UC-Davis recently joined D-1 and the Big West Conference. With a 5-23 record last year, and their dismal performance in the Stott Center last year, prospects look very good for the Vikings. However, to succeed, they will have to focus on Shane Hanson, a talented sophomore for the Aggies. The Aggies’ 2-2 record is like saying the Viks are really 3-2. Both of their wins came at home against D-III opponents. The only game they have played which one can really gauge is a 75-65 loss against New Mexico State. If they have really improved that much they might be dangerous at home. However, they also dropped a game to Texas by 31. This is a program who should benefit from having a very large arena (relative to it’s conference), and thus room for growth, and a draw for recruits even though it’s not new.
Davis: Kyle Brucculeri PSU: Scott Morrison
Davis plays what they call a four guard line-up. However Hanson is listed as a guard, and he’s 6’7″. At 6’8″, Brucculeri will start against Morrison, but there is a possibility the Aggies will be forced to replace him with seldom used 7’2″ back-up Michael Boone, especially if Morrison is able to stay assertive on the offensive end. I predict that this will be the case, because Brucculeri has a history of difficulty rebounding against bigger players. Boone has played a total of 6 minutes against the two D-1 opponents so far. Their other option is the 6’9″ Dominic Calegari who averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes over the same two games.
Davis: Shane Hanson PSU: Tyrell Mara
PSU will need Mara to be on his game if they want to win this one. Hanson can be very explosive at times, averaging 14.5 points a game. He has a solid all-around game (3.8 rpg, 2.5 apg, and 3 three-balls per contest.) Mara has a similar game, and should be able to keep up in all categories, maybe with the exception of points. He did have that 18 point game in Alaska, but if the rest of team does its job, he shouldn’t need to do that in this one.
Davis: Mike Payne PSU: Deonte Huff
Freshman Mike Payne is the best passer as well as one of the better scorers. He’s started the year hot, doing a little bit of everything (averaging 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals so far.) Although PSU started Andre Murray in the game against Linfield, Huff should be the one starting this one. Murray didn’t play that well, so whether or not they want to play a 3 guard line-up, it’s probably not advisable at this point. Huff looked really explosive on Tuesday, so the Viks will need to look for him on the break, and hope he continues to fight for the tough boards. Payne is also very tall for a guard, so using Huff will somewhat offset the height difference.
Davis: Vince Oliver PSU: Dupree Lucas
Oliver is the other big scorer for the Aggies. He had a tough shooting night against Texas, scoring only 7 points in 10 shots. However, against NM State he had 17, so Lucas will have to try to force him into taking the difficult shots. Lucas looks like he is slowly getting back to his form from last year. However, he needs to make sure he doesn’t get away from his mid-range game, because it is much more of a strength for him then the outside shots he sometimes resorts to.
Davis: David Carter PSU: Jeremiah Dominguez
Carter hasn’t been much of an offensive threat through the first four games of the season. If he is ineffective, look for the Aggies to go with Ryan Silva in his place. Though only 5’10”, the true freshman can be an offensive threat, especially from the outside. Look for Dominguez to continue his hot streak. He’s easily the team MVP, and should again be able to use his speed to get a few steals and make some big shots.
The Aggies managed just 42 points against Texas, and 65 against New Mexico State. Playing at home, I think they will be able to get a few more. However, if they want any shot in this one, Payne and Hanson will have to have really big games.
Prediction: PSU pulls this one off, but it won’t be pretty. 77-69