UC Davis, fresh off its First Four victory over North Carolina Central, meets No. 1 seed Kansas on Friday in an NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament first round game at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.
UC Davis Records First NCAA Win
UC Davis, the seventh different program in seven years to advance to the NCAA Tournament, won its first NCAA game in Wednesday’s 67-63 decision over North Carolina Central at Dayton, Ohio in the First Four. The Big West has now earned one NCAA Tournament victory in three of the last four years – Cal Poly (2014), Hawai‘i (2016) and UC Davis (2017).
How The Aggies Got To Tulsa
UC Davis, seeded second in the Big West Tournament, defeated No. 7 Cal Poly, No. 3 Cal State Fullerton and the top-seed UC Irvine to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the Big Dance. Honda Center’s seventh year as the host venue of the tournament has witnessed the following champions: UC Davis (2017), Hawai‘i (2016), UC Irvine (2015), Cal Poly (2014), Pacific (2013), Long Beach State (2012) and UC Santa Barbara (2011).
Jim Les is the only current Big West head coach to win an NCAA Tournament game with two Division I programs –UC Davis and Bradley.
Aggies Post Second-Highest Win Total
Entering the NCAA First Round game against Kansas, UC Davis is 23-12 overall, owners of its second 20-win season in the last three years under head coach Jim Les. The Aggies finished 11-0 at home this season.
UC Irvine Reaches Fifth Straight Postseason
UC Irvine has won 114 games over the last five seasons with Russell Turner at the helm. He has led the Anteaters to at least 20 wins in all five years. UCI concluded its season Wednesday in the NIT at Illinois State, marking the first straight year the program has played in a postseason game. UCI also has appeared in the CIT (2013), NIT (2014), NCAA Tournament (2015) and CIT (2016).
UC Irvine has won the Big West regular season crown – either shared or outright – in three of the last four seasons. UCI won the outright title in 2013-14, and shared the top spot with Hawai‘i in 2015-16. The ‘Eaters won this year’s outright title with a 12-4 record. The team’s three seniors – Luke Nelson, Jaron Martin and Ioannis Dimakopoulos – have been part of a regular season or Big West Tournament title-winning team in each of their four years with the program.
Fullerton Enjoys Resurgence With Taylor
Cal State Fullerton fourth-year head coach Dedrique Taylor has returned the Titans to the postseason for the first time since 2012 with a 17-14 season, a seven-win improvement over the 2016-16 campaign. The Titans will host Weber State in the first round of the CIT, marking the first time they will play a home postseason game.
Nelson In The Record Books
UC Irvine senior Luke Nelson finished his collegiate career with 17 points in Wednesday’s first round NIT loss to Illinois State. He wrapped up his career No. 4 in school history with 1,531 career points and No. 8 in Big West history with 253 career three-pointers made.
PRIOR TO TIPOFF
• UC Davis junior Chima Moneke was named the Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 13.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in the three wins. He notched his conference-leading 12th and 13th double-doubles of the season in the quarterfinals against Cal Poly and semifinals versus Cal State Fullerton. His 18 rebounds against Cal Poly was a career-high and tied for the second-most in Big West Tournament single-game history.
• Moneke proceeded to tally his 14th double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds against North Carolina Central in the First Four game.
• UC Davis senior Brynton Lemar averaged 20.1 points during the Big West Tournament. He scored 20 points in the championship game against UC Irvine, marking his 10th 20-point game of the season.
• The Aggies are 13-1 on the season when limiting the opponent to 70 points or less. They held UC Irvine to 47 points, the second-fewest scored by any team in a championship game. They allowed only 63 points to North Carolina Central in the First Four game.
• Cal State Fullerton senior Lionheart Leslie has 33 steals over the last seven games, and at least three in each game.