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UCI, Keeping Its Head Up, to Play Penn

December 11, 1987|JOHN WEYLER | Times Staff Writer

UC Irvine's basketball team is coming off a 36-point loss, but the Anteaters are feeling pretty good as they prepare to play host to Penn at 7:30 tonight in the Bren Center. Irvine was blown away by third-ranked Iowa, 124-88, but somehow managed to gain confidence from the experience.

As losses go, this one did have some big positives for UCI:

The Anteaters top four scorers--Wayne Engelstad, Kevin Floyd, Ed Johansen and Justin Anderson--shot 68% from the field (27 of 40) and scored 61 points against a talented defense.

UCI handled Iowa's reknowned full-court zone press better than most and got the Hawkeyes (who obviously enjoyed it) to play at its preferred racehorse pace.

Senior forward Frank Woods, one of Irvine's best players last season but almost invisible this season, showed signs of awakening with 8 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes.

And sophomore point guard Mike Labat, who missed the Iowa trip after re-injuring his left ankle against Pepperdine, will start tonight. It will be Irvine's sixth different starting lineup in six games.

"I'm happy with the team right now," Coach Bill Mulligan said. "I think we're going to be fine. I just want to win one or two of the next four games."

The Anteaters (3-2) play Penn and New Orleans at home, then UCLA and Bradley on the road.

Penn (1-2) may be the easiest mark. The Quakers won the Ivy League title last season and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to North Carolina, but they lost four starters from that team.

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