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Colleges: Hair-raising week for UCI athletes

February 28, 2011|By Barry Faulkner
  • UC Irvine freshman Kyle Hooper is 2-0 in two starts for the unbeaten Anteaters.
UC Irvine freshman Kyle Hooper is 2-0 in two starts for… (KENT TREPTOW, Daily…)

The week that began with Mustache Monday at UC Irvine's Bren Events Center, went on to feature a pair of extremely close shaves.

The Anteaters' men's volleyball team took care of visiting Hawaii in four games, the first of back-to-back Mountain Pacific Sports Federation wins over the Warriors, to start the prosperous week at the Bren.

Several UCI players sported real and artificial mustaches and hundreds of fans donned imitation black, blond or gray lip accessories passed out as part of a promotion that played off the Island connection of television's Magnum P.I.

Even game officials caught the spirit of the brainchild of UCI assistant coach David Kniffin, who added Magnum's trademark Detroit Tigers cap to complete the effect.

The close shaves in question were a pair of double-overtime wins by the men's basketball team, Thursday against UC Davis and Saturday against Pacific.

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The two victories, which included 193 points scored by the Anteaters, the highest-scoring team in the Big West Conference, also allowed Coach Russell Turner's squad to clinch a berth in the eight-team conference tournament, March 10-12, at Honda Center.

UCI, which closes out its regular season Saturday at UC Riverside, could still get a No. 5 seed in the tournament, should it win and UC Santa Barbara lost at home to second-place Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Saturday.

A UCI loss Saturday, combined with two wins this week by UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton, would make the 'Eaters a No. 8 seed, meaning a first-round matchup against regular-season champion Long Beach State.

UCI has wins over four of the top five teams in the conference standings, including Long Beach State.

Meanwhile, the 7-0 start for the UCI baseball team has featured only one closely contested game.

Coach Mike Gillespie's unit has outscored opponents, 85-15 this season. UCI, which leads Big West Conference teams in just about every hitting category, also tops the conference in most pitching categories, as well as defense.

Junior Jordan Fox leads all Big West hitters in hits (17) and runs batted in (14). The 5-foot-8 first baseman, who bats second in the order, is second in the conference in average (.531), slugging (.688) and on-base percentage (.579).

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