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After Good Start, Irvine to Get Good Test

December 14, 1987|JOHN WEYLER | Times Staff Writer

UC Irvine is 4-2 and off to its best start since the 1982-83 season when the Anteaters won five of their first six games. The next six games, however, will likely have a larger impact on whether this season is filed under the fond-memories or let's-not-talk-about-it categories.

UCI completes its nonconference schedule with three games this week, beginning at 7:30 tonight when it plays New Orleans at the Bren Center. The Anteaters then have 15 days off before beginning Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. play with three games in seven days.

Irvine travels to UCLA on Thursday and Bradley on Saturday. It begins conference play Jan. 4 at home against UC Santa Barbara and then plays at Fullerton Jan. 7 and at Las Vegas Jan. 9.

"Here we go," Coach Bill Mulligan said after UCI beat Penn, 90-66, Friday. "I'll get to savor this win for about two hours. It gets a lot tougher from here on in. The next six games are crucial."

Last season, New Orleans were 26-4 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing to Alabama. Saturday, they rolled to an 80-57 victory over Cal State Fullerton, the team picked to finish third (five places higher than UCI) in the PCAA.

New Orleans (2-1), with its loss coming against Bradley, 111-94, starts an all-senior lineup. Forwards Ledell Eackles and Sam Jones are both averaging 23 points a game.

Irvine hopes to hold those two to their average and continue at its pace of scoring almost 90 points a game.

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