UC Irvine meets UCSB in the Big West Finals

No. 2 seed UC Irvine (18-8, 15-4) against No. 1 seed UC Santa Barbara (21-4, 17-3) Big West Conference Tourney …

No. 2 seed UC Irvine (18-8, 15-4) versus No. 1 seed UC Santa Barbara (21-4, 17-3)

Big West Conference tournament championship, Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas; Saturday, 11:30 PM EST

BOTTOM: UC Irvine competes in the Big West Championship against UC Santa Barbara. In the regular season, UC Irvine won both head-to-head matchups. The teams last met on December 28, when the anteaters shot 44.4 percent off the field and capped UC Santa Barbara shooters to just 39.6 percent en route to a four-point win.

Groundbreaking: UC Santa Barbara’s JaQuori McLaughlin averaged 15.9 points and 5.3 assists while Amadou Sow averaged 13.7 points and 7.5 rebounds. For the anteaters, Collin Welp averaged 14.9 points and 7.7 rebounds, while Brad Greene averaged 9.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and two blocks.

CREATE VIOLATIONS: McLaughlin has scored or assisted 40 percent of all UC Santa Barbara field goals in the past five games. The Senior Guard scored 27 field goals and 22 assists in these games.

PERFECT WHEN: The gauchos are 17-0 if they keep opposing teams at 66 points or less, and 4-4 if the opponents exceed 66 points. The anteaters are 10-0 if the team has at least eight steals and 8-8 if that total is not met.

ASSISTANT ACCOUNTING: The gauchos have recently used assists to make buckets more frequently than the anteaters. UC Santa Barbara has 41 assists for 77 field goals (53.2 percent) in the last three games, while UC Irvine has assisted 30 out of 72 field goals (41.7 percent) in the last three games.

Suffocating Defense: UC Irvine has kept opposing teams off the field with 38.2 percent shooting this year, the third lowest percentage among any Division I teams. During their six-game winning streak, the Anteaters kept opposing shooters at 35.2 percent .

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