After finishing sixth in the Big West last season, the UC Davis men’s basketball team looks to improve as it opens conference play Thursday.

The Aggies have been adequate when playing at home or at neutral sites, however, the problems this season have arisen from the inability to capture a road win. Davis is 0-6 facing opponents on the road, leading to its overall record of 5-10.

Despite the record, the Aggies have many positives to look at as they begin conference play, winning two of their last three games, including a decisive home win over Simpson in their previous contest (93-69). Junior guard Corey Hawkins and senior guard Ryan Sypkens have led the charge.

For Hawkins, stellar play comes as no surprise. The 6’3” junior ranks among the top 100 NCAA Division I college basketball players according to CBS Sports and has been nothing but consistent. Hawkins is averaging 17.1 points a game combined with 5.1 rebounds and leads the squad averaging over 34 minutes a game.

Sypkens has been a pleasant surprise for the Aggies averaging over 20 points in their last three games. Sypkens leads the team with 49 three-pointers made; 10 of which came in the last game against Simpson, which set a new school record.

Sypkens has certainly done a phenomenal job filling in for senior guard/forward Josh Ritchart, who has been hampered by a lower leg injury. Through nine games, Ritchart led the team in scoring, averaging 17.3 points, and in rebounds, averaging 6.6 per game. Ritchart also shot an incredible 63 percent from the field.

The key for this team will be its defense and ability to perform on the road. In every game won this season, the Aggies have held their opponent to under 76 points. They are giving up an average of 78 points per game.

Davis opens conference play Thursday at Northridge.


A version of this article appeared on page 10 of January 8, 2013’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.