UC Irvine predicting defensive battle with 'similar' K-State team

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (WIBW) -- This isn't the first time UC Irvine and Kansas State have matched up. The two met a couple weeks into last year's season with KSU coming out on top... big.

UC Irvine starters guard Evan Leonard (14), guard Max Hazzard (2), forward Tommy Rutherford (42) and forward Jonathan Galloway (5) celebrate in the last seconds of the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Cal State Fullerton for the Big West men's tournament championship in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, March 16, 2019. UC Irvine won 92-64. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Anteaters head coach Russell Turner said that matchup is helping his team to prepare for the Wildcats.

He added that K-State has a similar lineup to the one the 'Cats used in their 71-49 win in 2017, but Turner doesn't think the game, itself, will be similar.

"I dont think the games are going to be similar," Turner said. "At least I hope not.

"I know the game is going to be a defensive battle, like we're used to playing in. We're just not used to being in those battles with teams who are better than us."

Turner said his team has made massive improvements since their first brush with Kansas State.

"We're used to being the hunted in our conference," Turner said. "Everybody that we play in our conference wants to beat us. We held up well to that pressure throughout the year and I think we're going to hold up well to the pressure in this environment too."

To Turner, talk of an upset is not enough--his UC Irvine team has to perform on the hardwood if they want to advance.

The Wildcats play on Friday at 1 p.m. CT on TBS.


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