PEORIA, Ill. — UC Irvine brings it's barnstorming basketball show into another town tonight and you can tell the locals to bring out the women and children but hide the record books.
Irvine is a college team with an NBA outlook on the game as Bradley fans are sure to discover tonight shortly after 6:05, PST, when the Anteaters take the floor at 10,470-seat Carver Arena.
Thursday night, Irvine (5-3) became the first team other than the Bruins to score 100 points in Pauley Pavilion, losing to UCLA, 116-100. On Dec. 5, Iowa scored a school-record 124 points to beat Irvine in the championship game of the Amana-Hawkeye tournament. And the last time Irvine and Bradley met, the Anteaters won, 121-111.
"A lot of people say we're not quick enough to play the up-tempo style of basketball we do," Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan said, "but when you're in a sports market where there is so much competition, you better be entertaining."
Bradley guard Hersey Hawkins should be the center of attention, though. The 6-foot 3-inch senior All-American is averaging 40 points a game against the rest of the world, so he might have that many at halftime against Irvine.
And Hawkins might have some added incentive. He missed the front end of a one-and-one situation in regulation Thursday night before Memphis State's John McLaughlin hit a three-pointer to send the game into overtime. The Braves (3-1) ended up losing, 113-108, to the 19th-ranked Tigers in Memphis.
Mulligan isn't worrying too much about Bradley, however. Tonight is Irvine's last nonconference game of the season--the Anteaters have 15 days off before opening Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. play Jan. 4--and Mulligan isn't satisfied he's determined who is best players are.
Originally, Mulligan said he would like to enter conference play with a winning record. The Anteaters have met that goal no matter what transpires tonight, but the UCI coach doesn't know as much about his team as he would like.
"I'd like to get our team squared away," he said. "I'd like to get our rotation down to eight, maybe nine guys. I'm not even thinking about Bradley. We've got to get us ready to play."