UC Irvine ran away with the regular-season championship in the Big West this season, which ended with a dominant 30-5 record (15-1 in their conference), at least eight more wins than any other team.
UC-Irvine escaped with a 70-64 victory, their first NCAA tournament win in program history.
Senior Kamau Stokes, in his last game as a Wildcat, led the way with 18 points on 4-of-12 field goals, including 3-of-9 from 3-point range, to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists in almost 39 minutes. The Anteaters proved to be deep as well, accruing 19 bench points.
The Wildcats cut the deficit to two points, before Hazzard hit a corner 3 with 1:25 to play to make it 66-61 and then struck a pose to the delight of the Anteaters fans who made the trip up from Orange County. The over/under total for the contest is listed at 125.5 points.
Evan Leonard had 11 and Tommy Rutherford added 10 for UC Irvine (31-6), which saw its 17-game win streak come to an end, but leading scorer Max Hazzard had just seven points and made just 1 of 8 attempts from behind the arc. They did, however, advance as far as the Elite Eight last season and will hope to go even better this term, poised to open their competition against last-64 opponents UC Irvine on Friday. "We have another game on Sunday, and we're planning to put ourselves in position to win again, and hopefully we can do that and play into next weekend".
That's a good formula against Kansas State, a poor outside shooting team that was playing without maybe its best 3-point shooting threat. OR set out as the favourites to win the Pac-12 back in the fall and was a preseason top 15 ranked side. Robert Cartwright added another 3-pointer and Leonard made three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer to make it 59-51. No. 14 UC Irvine hit a three-pointer just before the half to enter a 30-30 tie with No. 4 Kansas State.
The Wildcats held the Anteaters scoreless for the next 4:38, a span, in which, they forced 3 turnovers. Brown sat much of the first half after accumulating 2 fouls in the opening minutes. The Ducks have now won nine straight games following a 72-54 win over Wisconsin on Friday. Pritchard has produced 12.9 points and 4.6 assists while King has averaged 13.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. It marked his 70th career double-digit scoring game, including his 21st this season, and eighth straight game in double digits. As a team, OR is averaging 70.5 points per game on 45.2% shooting from the field, 34.6% from behind the arc and 72% from the foul line this season.