Cal Santa Barbara Gauchos (20-6) vs. Cal Irvine Anteaters (14-15)
Where and when: Bren Events Center, Irvine, California, Thursday, 10:30 pm EST
On Thursday, 10:30 pm EST, at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, California, the visiting Gauchos of Cal Santa Barbara will travel to meet the Anteaters of Cal Irvine. In their last matchup on 1/20/2018, the Gauchos got the 70-58 home win. Despite the Anteaters going up by 1 at the half, they seemed to implode in the second half, being outscored 46-33 en route to the road loss. For the game, the Gauchos shot 43.6% from the field and only 30.8% from 3-point range, while Cal Irvine shot 39% from the field and only 26.1% from 3-point range. The Gauchos dominated on the boards by a margin of 40-29, while committing 8 turnovers compared to 9 for the Anteaters. Coming in as 7-point favorites, the Gauchos were able to cash in on the spread in this matchup.
Cal Santa Barbara comes into this matchup as winners of 8 of their last 10 games (7-3 ATS), while Cal Irvine enters as winners of 8 of their last 10 as well (7-2-1 ATS). In their last outing, the Gauchos were stunned at home by UC Davis by a score of 71-54 on Saturday. As 6-point favorites, the Gauchos were not able to cover the spread. On the other hand, the Anteaters got the 75-58 road win versus Cal Poly on Saturday. As 5-point favorites, the Irvine was able to cover the spread in this contest.
Santa Barbara Falls to Aggies at Home
UC Davis went up 5 at the half, and outscored the Gauchos 37-25 in the second half on their way to a stunning 71-54 road win on Saturday. For the game, the Aggies shot 54.9% from the field and 36.4% from the 3-point arc. On the other hand, the Gauchos shot 33.3% from the field and a mere 28.6% from 3-point range. The Aggies edged the Gauchos on the boards 34-31, while committing 9 turnovers compared to 8 for Cal Santa Barbara. The loss ended an 8-game winning streak for Santa Barbara.
Offensively, the Gauchos average 77.2 points per game on 46.7% shooting from the field (37.9% from 3-point range). They also shoot an average of 70% from the free throw line while pulling down 37.1 rebounds per game.
Max Heidegger (20.3 ppg, 2.6 rebs, 2.4 ass), Leland King II (16 ppg, 10.7 rebs), and Jalen Canty (12.9 ppg, 7.8 rebs) are the leading scorers for the Gauchos. Furthermore, Gabe Vincent and Marcus Jackson are also key contributors to the offensive attack averaging 11.7 ppg, 3.3 assists and 8.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists, respectively.
Defensively, the Gauchos are allowing opponents to score an average of 70.2 points per game on 43.4% shooting from the field (34.5% from 3-point range). Lastly, they are also permitting teams to grab 31.1 rebounds per outing.
Cal Irvine Blitz Cal Poly
Cal Poly was outscored 35-27 in the first half and 40-31 in the second half by Irvine on their way to a 75-58 home loss on Saturday. For the game, the Mustangs shot only 35.2% from the field and a mere 22.7% from 3-point range, while the Anteaters were on fire shooting 51.8% from the field and 31.6% from 3-point range. While the Anteaters dominated on the boards by a margin of 42-19, they committed 11 turnovers compared to 6 for the Mustangs. The win was the 6th in 7 games for Cal Irvine.
Offensively, the Anteaters average 70.2 points per game on 44.2% shooting from the field (34.2% from 3-point range). They also shoot an average of 69.1% from the free throw line while pulling down 41.3 rebounds per outing.
Evan Leonard (13.1 ppg, 3.3 rebs, 2.1 ass), Evassu Worku (11.1 ppg, 2.9 rebs, 3.7 ass), and Tommy Rutherford (10.9 ppg, 6.1 rebs) are the leading scorers for the Anteaters. John Edgar Jr. and Max Hazzard are other key contributors to the offense averaging 8.4 points, 4 rebounds and 8 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, respectively.
Defensively, Cal Irvine is allowing opponents to score an average of 67.5 points per game on 38.9% shooting from the field (32.6% from 3-point range). They are also permitting teams to pull down 30.1 rebounds per outing.
- The Gauchos are 10-2 ATS in last 12 road games
- The Gauchos are 7-2 ATS in last 9 games overall
- The Gauchos are 4-0 ATS in last 4 games versus Anteaters
- The Anteaters are 0-4 ATS in last 4 games versus Gauchos
- The Anteaters are 16-19-2 ATS in last 37 games overall
This will be an interesting battle between the 1st and 2nd place teams within the Big West Conference. Both teams have had outstanding seasons and despite the Gauchos holding the tie breaker with a recent win against the Anteaters at home, there is still reason to believe Cal Irvine will indeed make this an exciting matchup to watch. Irvine possessed a slim lead at the half in their last contest against the Gauchos, yet, lost their footing for the remainder of the game, thus resulting in the loss. It would be important to note that the Gauchos are 8-5 SU on the road this season against conference opponents, while Irvine is 6-4 SU at home for the season against the Big West. In all, Santa Barbara is not only an above average team as illustrated by their record, but, they are experienced at exploiting the weaknesses of other teams, thus overpowering them as the game progresses. I expect this to be the case on Thursday night, as the Gauchos will take control of the overall pace of the game, thus getting the hard-fought victory and, not to mention, maintain their top ranked position in the Big West.