One week from its Big West Conference opener, the UC Irvine men's basketball team shares the conference lead in victories with Pacific.
With a 6-5 record heading into Thursday's nonconference clash at UCLA, most would say the Anteaters, under first-year coach Russell Turner, have performed better than preseason expectations.
Even more encouraging would be the fact that junior Eric Wise, a two-time second-team all-conference performer who led the team in scoring, rebounding and assists in 2009-10, has played a full game in only one of those wins.
The Anteaters, in fact, have scarcely had three of their top four big men to this point. Wise strained a hip-flexor in the second game at USC, played sparingly the next game, then sat out six of the next seven. He returned to the starting lineup Saturday at Pepperdine, but had just six points and two rebounds in 17 minutes before fouling out of the 76-69 setback.