GAME NOTES: A pair of Big West Conference schools looking to climb in the standings are set to collide on Saturday when the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos take on the UC Davis Aggies at The Pavilion.
The Gauchos are coming off a very poor overall performance in which they suffered an 80-62 setback at Pacific on Thursday. The loss dropped UCSB to a 5-10 overall record including its 1-3 mark in Big West action. Its place in the standings is even less impressive considering two of the five wins came over non-Division I foes. Still, UCSB has shown flashes of potential with wins over San Diego, Santa Clara, and UC Irvine. On the season, UCSB is one of just four Big West teams with a negative scoring margin (minus-5.7), putting up just 66.1 ppg while allowing 73.5 ppg.
Coming in with three losses in four games to their last outing, the Aggies were desperate for a win heading into Thursday's matchup with Cal Poly. UC Davis overcame a six-point halftime deficit and Corey Hawkins drained a jumper as time expired to help it improve to 5-9 and clinch its first Big West division. Despite their struggles, producing points has not been an issue for the Aggies this year, as they shoot an impressive 46.8 percent from the field to generate 71.3 fourth-most points in the conference (73.4 ppg).
The Gauchos have dominated this rivalry in recent years with eight consecutive victories over UCD. UCSB's recent domination has given them a 21-5 all-time series lead over the Aggies.
In its recent loss to the Tigers, Pacific converted 13 UC Santa Barbara turnovers into 16 points while turning the ball over only five times as a team. Alan Williams posted a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Gauchos while Kyle Boswell added 15 points off the bench. Although UCSB is struggling overall, Williams is having a tremendous campaign among the wreckage. The 6-7, 240-pound sophomore forward recently raised his averages up to 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest with three 22-point outings in his last four appearances.
Hawkins, who is fourth in the Big West in scoring at 17.6 ppg, was in the right place at the right time on Thursday as he scooped up the ball after Paolo Mancasola was blocked to hit the game-winning triple and lift the Aggies to the two-point decision. During the contest, UC Davis connected on a red hot 60.5 percent of its field goal attempts and assisted 17 of its 26 makes from the floor. The Mustangs outscored UC Davis 19-9 on points off of turnovers, but the Aggies had a 32-26 edge on the boards. J.T. Adenrele had a game-high 20 points, while Ryan Sypkens and Hawkins tallied 15 each.
The Aggies have a great shot of finally ending their losing slide to UCSB. The Gauchos will continue to pound it inside to Williams to produce offensively, but they will find some difficulty when trying to slow down Hawkins, Adenrele, and Sypkens.
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