The Weber State University men’s basketball team heads to the University of California Irvine on Saturday evening. WSU enters this weekend with a 2-0 victory on the season. UCI has a 0-2 record on the season. The last time the Wildcats faced off against the Anteaters was in 1983.
“I think we have to push this game the same way we pushed the game against Utah State,” said WSU point guard Damian Lillard. “We have to come out hungry and focus on getting it done on defense and let that translate to our offense.”
Previously this week, WSU played the first of four instate rival games against Utah State University. WSU beat USU 73-63. Shooting guard Scott Bamforth had a career high of 28 points, with seven 3-pointers. The win over the Aggies brought the Wildcats record to 2-0 for the first time in five years.
UCI is averaging 53 points a game and gives up an average of 64 points a game. The team is being out-rebounded 44-34.5 and only shooting 50 percent from the free throw line. The Wildcats will have to watch out for Will Davis II for UCI. He is averaging 10 points and nine rebounds a game.
UCI lost to San Jose State University (51-50) and the University of California (77-56). Both of these schools are going to play WSU later in the season. In the game against SJSU, UCI’s Adam Folker tipped in a basket at the buzzer. After reviewing the play, the referees called it back, causing the loss.
Last year, the Anteaters finished their season with a 13-19 record overall and 6-10 in the Big West Conference. They have two returning starters and four returning letterwinners.
Both Bamforth and Lillard said the team is going to keep doing what it has been doing, and that by working hard, it can contain the Anteaters.
“Our main focus has been on defense,” Bamforth said. “When we play good defense, it leads to great offense, and we get good shots.”
The Anteaters head coach, Russell Turner, is in his second season at UCI. Before becoming head coach, he served as assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors in the National Basketball Association.
After playing in game-like situations, Bamforth said he likes the feel of this team because the players all have the same goals. Bamforth said he has played on teams where players plays to boost their own stats. This team is not like that, he said.
“This year, our team has one goal and that is to win every single game we play,” Bamforth said. “Whether it happens or not, it’s up in the air, but right now, we are going to try.”
This week, forward Kyle Bullinger was named to be a candidate for Lowe’s Senior Class Award. Only 30 senior athletes across the country were nominated for this award. Bullinger is the only candidate from the Big Sky Conference as well as the state of Utah.
This season marks the 50th season for the WSU men’s basketball team on the four-year level. The Wildcats will have a week off before they compete at the Saint Mary’s Shamrock Office Solutions Classic on Nov. 27-28 in Moraga, Calif. They will open the tournament with Jacksonville State University.