No. 2 seed UC Irvine (18-8, 15-4) vs. No. 1 seed UC Santa Barbara (21-4, 17-3)
Big West Conference Tourney Championship, Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas; Saturday, 11:30 p.m. EST
BOTTOM LINE: UC Irvine is set to face off against UC Santa Barbara in the Championship of the Big West tourney. In the regular season, UC Irvine won both of the head-to-head matchups. The teams last met on Dec. 28, when the Anteaters shot 44.4 percent from the field while limiting UC Santa Barbara’s shooters to just 39.6 percent en route to a four-point victory.
LEADING THE WAY: UC Santa Barbara’s JaQuori McLaughlin has averaged 15.9 points and 5.3 assists while Amadou Sow has put up 13.7 points and 7.5 rebounds. For the Anteaters, Collin Welp has averaged 14.9 points and 7.7 rebounds while Brad Greene has put up 9.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and two blocks.
CREATING OFFENSE: McLaughlin has either made or assisted on 40 percent of all UC Santa Barbara field goals over the last five games. The senior guard has accounted for 27 field goals and 22 assists in those games.
PERFECT WHEN: The Gauchos are 17-0 when they hold opposing teams to 66 points or fewer and 4-4 when opponents exceed 66 points. The Anteaters are 10-0 when the team records at least eight steals and 8-8 when falling short of that total.
ACCOUNTING FOR ASSISTS: The Gauchos have recently used assists to create buckets more often than the Anteaters. UC Santa Barbara has 41 assists on 77 field goals (53.2 percent) over its past three matchups while UC Irvine has assists on 30 of 72 field goals (41.7 percent) during its past three games.
STIFLING DEFENSE: UC Irvine has held opposing teams to 38.2 percent shooting from the field this year, the third-lowest percentage among all Division I teams. Over their six-game winning streak, the Anteaters have held opposing shooters to 35.2 percent.
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