UC Irvine Pregame

Vs. Cal State Fullerton

Thursday at 7 at Bren Events Center

The Anteaters (11-7, 2-0 in the Big West Conference) have won four straight and six of their last eight and are off to the program's best start after 18 games since the 2002-03 team also went 11-7.

Cal State Fullerton (6-9, 1-0) is coming off a conference-opening win over UC Riverside.

UCI won at Long Beach State and UCR last week to finalize a stretch of six straight road games. Tonight's contest is the first of three straight home games, including Cal State Northridge on Jan. 23 and Hawaii on Jan. 25 (homecoming).

UCI enters the week first in the Big West in field-goal percentage (.482), field-goal-percentage defense (.387), assists per game (17.06) and blocked shots per game (6.44).

Junior forward Will Davis, who leads the 'Eaters in scoring (12.1 per game) and rebounding (7.4 per contest), is second in the Big West and 13th nationally in field-goal percentage (60.7).

Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-foot-6 freshman center, ranks fourth nationally with 59 blocked shots. He is shooting 76.8% from the field, including 88.2% the past seven games (30 for 34). He does not have enough attempts to qualify among the national leaders.

Davis and Ndiaye are expected to return to the starting lineup after sitting out Saturday's win at UC Riverside due to physical limitations Coach Russell Turner refused to specify.

Senior Chris McNealy (11.7 ppg), freshman Luke Nelson (11.5 ppg) and sophomore Alex Young (9.7 ppg) round out a balanced starting five for UCI.

The Titans, under first-year coach Dedrique Taylor, are led by senior guard Michael Williams (15.6 ppg) and junior guard Alex Harris (12.1 ppg).

UCI has won three straight against the Titans.

— Barry Faulkner