Dec 14, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal forward Josh Huestis (24) center fights for position against UC Davis Aggies forward Georgi Funtarov (12) and forward Iggy Nujc (1) during the first half of their NCAA basketball game at Maples Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Big West Game Preview: UC Davis Aggies at UC Santa Barbara Gauchos


Fresh off a stirring 62-58 road win over Cal Poly on Thursday, the UC Davis Aggies look to pull another upset victory against Big West Conference-leading UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at the Thunderdome on Saturday.

The Aggies (7-14, 2-4 BWC) will look to dethrone the bigger Gauchos (13-6, 4-2 BWC) by continuing to drain perimeter jump shots in their current central coast road trip.

Corey Hawkins may be the most consistent outside threat for the Aggies, but it was Ryan Sypkens who provided clutch 3-point shooting to seal the victory over the Cal Poly Mustangs at Mott Gym.  Sypkens’ back-to-back 3-pointers gave UC Davis its last lead which it would not relinquish.  The road win was all the more impressive as it snapped the Mustangs’ 16-game home winning streak against Big West competition.

However, a visit to the Thunderdome will present an even taller task, literally.  UCSB fields a starting frontcourt with listed heights of 6’8″, 6’8″, and 6’8″, including Big West Player of the Year candidate Alan Williams.  Williams is among the nation’s leaders in both scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double of 23.1 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game.  Most teams end up double-teaming Williams down low, which presents another problem as the Gauchos sport sharpshooters in Kyle Boswell, Michael Bryson, and Taran Brown.

The Aggies will counter with a platoon of guards who will need to knock down outside shots and defend the perimeter, including Hawkins, Sypkens, Avery Johnson, Darius Graham, and Lemar Brynton.  In the post, Georgi Funtarov needs to defend and limit the hefty Williams off the glass.  Justin Dueck, Iggy Nujic, and Clint Bozner will need to take turns in defending Williams, who often fouls out opposing post defenders.

If the Aggies can frustrate Williams inside, and effectively close out on UCSB’s perimeter shooters, they will have a chance in pulling off a rare and difficult road sweep in San Luis Obispo and Goleta.

Tip off is 4 p.m. Pacific.

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