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UCI Opens a Busy Week, Plays New Orleans at Home

December 14, 1987|JOHN WEYLER

UC Irvine's basketball team 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 category.

UCI completes its nonconference schedule with three games this week, beginning at 7:30 tonight against the University of New Orleans in 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."

The Anteaters won't get the luxury of looking past anyone, especially New Orleans. The Privateers were 26-4 last season and lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament 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 is 2-1, its only lost coming to Bradley, 111-94. It starts an all-senior lineup, led by forwards Ledell Eackles and Sam Jones, who average 23 points a game each.

Irvine hopes to hold those two to their averages and continue to score almost 90 points a game.

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