UC Irvine Men's Basketball 2017 NIT Tournament Capsule


UC Irvine Anteaters

Big West (21-14, 12-4)

UC Irvine lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, but Coach Russell Turner rallied his team to earn an outright title in a very competitive Big West. Much like last season, this is a big Anteaters team that will always play tough defense. That did not always help during non-conference play, but most of the time UCI will be able to stay close against tougher competition because of their defense.
Big Wins: 11/25 vs South Dakota State (63-52), 11/30 at Santa Clara (58-55), 3/4 UC Davis (79-49)
Bad Losses: 11/26 vs Milwaukee (37-54), 1/26 Cal Poly (66-79), 2/22 at Cal State Fullerton (54-56)
Coach: Russell Turner
Why They Can Surprise:
Senior center Ioannis Dimakopoulos is the biggest presence in the paint this year. The 7-2 center is not a great shot blocker, but his presence alone can make anybody think twice about driving the lane. Tommy Rutherford, Jonathan Galloway and Brandon Smith are all shot blocking threats and that can make it very difficult for even the best slashers to finish around the basket effectively. With all of that size, the Anteaters are also a very good rebounding team. Galloway, a 6-10 sophomore, is not a major scoring threat, but he has emerged as a great rebounder. Rutherford is having a very good freshman campaign. On top of his solid rebounding, he is emerging as a decent interior scoring threat.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The Anteaters offense is not too bad either though. Luke Nelson missed a lot of time this season, but his return has given UC Irvine a go-to scorer who can take all of the clutch shots. On the year, in limited action, Nelson is averaging 16.9 points per game. But even with Nelson, this is not always the most potent offense. Dimakopoulos is tough to defend since he can shoot three-pointers and point guard Jaron Martin is a very prolific outside shooter who can finish around the basket too. But if Nelson, Dimakopoulos or Martin are having an off night in the scoring department, the Anteaters will not be able to pull off an upset.
Probable Starters:
Jaron Martin, Senior, Guard, 13.8 ppg, 3.1 apg
Luke Nelson, Senior, Guard, 16.9 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.5 spg
Brandon Smith, Sophomore, Forward, 3.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Jonathan Galloway, Sophomore, Forward, 4.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg
Ioannis Dimakopoulos, Senior, Center, 11.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Key Role Players:
Tommy Rutherford, Freshman, Forward, 6.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Eyassu Worku, Freshman, Guard, 7.3 ppg, 1.9 apg
Max Hazzard, Freshman, Guard, 5.0 ppg, 1.3 apg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.6 (240th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.8 (34, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.6 (163, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.1 (7, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.5 (161, 2)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.4 (113, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.7 (227, 6)
Rebound Margin: 7.4 (11, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.0 (213, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (218, 4)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2016    CIT      First Round win over North Dakota
2016    CIT      Quarterfinal win over Louisiana-Lafayette
2016    CIT      Semifinal win over Coastal Carolina
2016    CIT      Championship loss to Columbia
2015    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Louisville
2014    NIT      First Round loss to SMU
2013    CIT      First Round win over High Point
2013    CIT      Second Round loss to Oral Roberts
*all team stats through 3/5