GAME NOTES: The UC Irvine Anteaters had a six-game win streak snapped in their last outing, and they'll try to get back in the win column as they travel to face the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in Big West Conference play at the Thunderdome.
UC Irvine, which leads the Big West with a 4-1 conference record, lost its first conference game in its latest matchup with Hawaii - a 90-86 overtime defeat. The loss snapped a six-game win streak and a perfect Big West record.
UC Santa Barbara also had a win streak snapped in its last matchup, dropping a close 74-72 contest to Cal State Fullerton. The loss set the Gauchos back to 3-2 in Big West play - a game behind UC Irvine for the conference lead.
UC Santa Barbara has a hold of the all-time series lead between the two programs, 48-31. The Anteaters and Gauchos will meet again later this season on Feb. 27.
UC Irvine held a 43-38 lead over Hawaii at the half, but the Warriors battled back in the second half to force an overtime period, in which Hawaii went on to win. Six players recorded point totals in the double digits for the Anteaters, led by Alex Young's 14 points. Aaron Wright, Mamadou Ndiaye and Chris McNealy each netted 12 points, and Luke Nelson chipped in 11. Will Davis II rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points. The Anteaters shot an impressive 55 percent from the floor.
McNealy leads the group in scoring this season with 12.2 ppg on 44.3 percent shooting from the floor. Davis is second at 11.4 ppg, and Nelson is close behind in third at 11.3 ppg. Young tops the team in assists with 94 on the year, while Davis leads the squad in rebounding at 6.9 rpg. The Anteaters are scoring an average of 75.2 ppg this season.
Although UC Santa Barbara outscored Cal State Fullerton, 51-44, in the second half, the Titans built up enough of a lead in the first period to sustain any comeback attempt. Alan Williams continues to prove he's one of the most underrated players in the college game, netting 26 points for Santa Barbara and pulling down nine rebounds. Michael Bryson scored 16, and Kyle Boswell came off the bench to add 11. The Gauchos shot 46.3 percent in the game.
Williams' numbers this season speak to his ability, and prove that he could be one of the top snubs from the Wooden Award watch list. Williams is scoring 22.7 ppg this season on 55.5 percent shooting from the floor. He averages a double-double with a 10.7 rpg mark, a team-best 36 blocked shots and a second- best 19 steals. Boswell is second on the team in scoring, well behind Williams' total, at 11.8 ppg. Bryson is third at 10.3 ppg.
Williams will be a dominant force regardless, but the Gauchos' success will be determined by other players stepping up to aid him in the effort. The home advantage helps out greatly for UCSB, as the Gauchos look to climb back up toward the top spot in the Big West.
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