Cal Poly (10-6) vs. UC Irvine (6-10) at 7:05 p.m. in Irvine, CA

Tonight’s battle against Cal Poly will be a great litmus test to determine where UCI is at as a team. If they can play the Mustangs close and pull it out in the end, UCI has a legitimate chance to be in the top three in the Big West. If not, UCI may have to be content with being the best of the worse.

In terms of style of play, Cal Poly is basically the opposite of UCI. They walk the ball up the court, slow everything down, and try to take up as much time off the shot clock as possible. Their defensive style tries to lull opposing opponents to sleep, forcing them into bad shots and a lack of any sort of rhythm. The result is a surplus of games in the 50’s range.  They held USC to 36 points earlier this season in a 42-36 barnstormer of a game. On the other hand, the Anteaters gun for 78 points per game just on their own. Should be an interesting contrast to see which style persists over the other one.

Players to watch out for: Senior forward David Hanson has consistently killed UCI in years past with his combination of size and clutch outside shooting, and is probably Cal Poly’s best player. Point guard Amaurys Fermin runs the show, and will provide an interesting match-up against Derrick Flowers. Dylan Royer is Cal Poly’s 3-point specialist, while Will Taylor provides the muscle down low. The entertainingly named Drake U’u is a crafty steal-monger, while backup post player Chris Eversley just had a breakout game against Cal State Fullerton.

Tonight’s game also seems to be the first game that ASUCI is “partnering” with Athletics for. Free turkey legs and other gimmick giveaways will hopefully lure students to the game and not just the pre-game festivities. Hopefully they will stick around until the end and provide a good energy boost for a rarely-been-at-home ’Eaters team, which will inspire an entertaining performance, which will hopefully inspire these fans to keep coming out.