UC Davis (9-20) at UC Riverside (9-19)
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams fighting to play in the Big West Tournament meet at RC Arena when the UC Davis Aggies take on the UC Riverside Highlanders.
Both teams are 4-10 in the conference, but since only the top eight teams make the tournament one will be left out of event. In a sense, it's a "win and you're in" scenario. A UC Riverside win would give the Highlanders a spot in the Big West tourney. That's because UC Riverside already beat UC Davis on Jan. 16, 81-69, with a big second-half comeback. The Highlanders rallied from a 19-point deficit. Meanwhile, a UC Davis victory will give the Aggies a big advantage going into Saturday's regular season finale. That's because it would force the Highlanders to beat Long Beach State Saturday to get the No. 8 seed. UC Davis plays at first-place UC Irvine Saturday to finish the regular season slate.
The Aggies, losers in five of their last six games, are coming off a 67-54 home loss to UC Santa Barbara Saturday. Corey Hawkins had 16 points to pace UC Davis, which averages 71.1 ppg. Hawkins (18.5 ppg) and Ryan Sypkens (11.6 ppg) lead the way offensively for the Aggies, who are also getting 8.7 ppg from freshman forward Georgi Funtarov. The Aggies are allowing teams to shoot 38.4 percent from beyond the arc and are giving up 77.8 ppg.
The Highlanders snapped a five-game skid with a 106-105 double-overtime win at home against Cal State Northridge on Saturday. A pair of free throws by Austin Quick with 18 seconds remaining in double-overtime proved to be the difference. Quick finished the marathon contest with 17 points off the bench for the Highlanders. Chris Patton led all scorers with 30 points, adding 11 rebounds, while Sam Finley tacked on 20 points, Steven Thornton 16 and Taylor Johns 14 points, the latter also clearing 10 rebounds of his own.
UC Riverside is averaging 68.9 ppg, which is about 10 points better than last season. In fact, it's the highest scoring average since making the move to Division I in the 2001-02 season. Finley, a freshman, has upped his scoring average to 12.2 ppg. That's behind both Patton (13.5 ppg) and Johns (12.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg). It's the first time the Highlanders have three players averaging double figures since the 2006-07 season. Thornton (8.5 ppg) has been coming on strong of late. He's 12-for-15 from the field over his last two games after being mired in a 2-for-14 shooting slump. Thornton has also made half of his last 36 3-point attempts.
The Highlanders are struggling from long distance at just 30 percent from 3- point range, but if they can carry over the offensive performance from Saturday's game they may lock up the final spot in the Big West tourney and complete a sweep of the Aggies, who have won just once in 12 road games this season.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams fighting to play in the Big West Tournament meet
at RC Arena when the UC Davis Aggies take on the UC Riverside Highlanders.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: RC Arena (6,500) -- Riverside, California. Television:
ESPN3.com. Home Record: UCD 6-9, UCR 7-7. Away Record: UCD 1-11, UCR 2-12,
Neutral Record: UCD 2-0, UCR 0-0. Conference Record: UCD 4-10, UCR 4-10.
Series Record: UC Riverside leads, 30-28.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 6, 10 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
UC Riverside 75, UC Davis 74