Not Total Strangers

Kenyon McNeaill

UC-Irvine has been able to watch Louisiana Tech play twice in two days. The Anteaters also have a player on their team who has faced the Bulldogs.

Daman Starring helped lead Centenary with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in a 102-96 loss to Louisiana Tech a year ago. The 6'3" sophomore from Las Vegas played 46 minutes in the game and hit 5 of 7 from deep. Starring will now suit up for UC-Irvine tonight as the Anteaters host Louisiana Tech.

Both UC-Irvine and Louisiana Tech have had wins over Seattle and Navy and now face off in the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. Olu Ashaolu leads the 4-1 Bulldogs into the game averaging 15 points and 10.4 rebounds.

Ashaolu could have a big game tonight because he creates matchup problems for the Anteaters. UC-Irvine played in their last game with almost all guards 6'4" and under. Two post players totaled only 26 minutes off the bench. 6'5" Eric Wise, sat out the Anteater's last game with a shoulder injury suffered last week against USC. Wise, a 230 pound junior, led the team last season with 16.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. If he is able to go, he should provide a great matchup for Ashaolu. Wise played 14 minutes against Navy and had 6 points and 2 rebounds.

Louisiana Tech has had a balanced attack so far this weekend. Ashaolu had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Seattle, while DeAndre Brown had 18 points and 7 assists. Guards Kenyon McNeaill and Brandon Gibson each added 13 against the Redhawks. Last night against Navy, Darius Redding joined the other four starters, Gibson, McNeaill, Brown, and Ashaolu with double digit points. Junior Romario Souza, in his first action of the season, was 5-5 for 12 points and 3 rebounds. Souza gives the Bulldogs an added dimension with his scoring inside. The 6'9" Brazilian will help take the pressure off Ashaolu to do all the work in the paint.

Brandon Gibson has emerged as a perimeter threat for the Bulldogs. The 6'5" sophomore had 13 points and 8 rebounds against Seattle, then added 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and two steals against Navy. True freshman Kenyon McNeaill has settled into the point guard role. The 6'0" McNeaill had 13 points and 5 assists against Seattle and had 12 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds against Navy. McNeaill's emergence at the point allows senior DeAndre Brown to play shooting guard. Brown had 18 against Seattle, the hit five three-pointers to lead the team with 15 points against Navy.

True Freshmen James "Duece" Johnson and Lonnie Smith each played at least 8 minutes in both games for Coach Rupp. Johnson gives the Bulldogs a big body that can defend and grab rebounds. Smith scored 7 points and had two rebounds in extended minutes against Seattle. Patrick Rembert has led UC-Irvine with 19.5 points per game and Darren Moore has added 18.5 points per game over the weekend. The two guards will likely be joined in the starting lineup with Starring. Eric Wise will likely get the start if his shoulder allows. Pavol Losonsky and Peter Simek will man the paint for UC-Irvine. Losonsky, a 6'8" senior, averages 7 points and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes per game. Simek, a 6'9" senior, averages 9 minutes and 1.2 points per game. Both Losonsky and Simek are Bulgarian nationals who came to UC-Irvine by way of Butte College. Chris McNealy, a 6'3" freshman guard, averages 7.8 points per game in 21 minutes per game off the bench.

Tipoff for UC-Irvine against Louisiana Tech is 7:30 tonight.

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