Best, Ndiaye lead UC Irvine past Boston College 80-67

FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) UC Irvine thought it let one get away in losing its opening game of the Wooden Legacy tournament. Facing an ACC team on Friday might not have seemed like the best way to rebound, considering the Anteaters had never beaten a team from that Power Five conference.

Mike Best scored 18 points and Mamadou Ndiaye added 16, leading UC Irvine to an 80-67 win over Boston College.

''I'm real proud of our team's performance,'' Irvine coach Russell Turner said. ''We bounced back from a performance that disappointed us yesterday and defeated a team that's really talented. ... To win that game wire-to-wire that way we did was the type of performance I hope we'll get more of. It was really outstanding on the defensive end for us.''

Best and Ndiaye split 20 points in the first half as the Anteaters (5-1) shot 60 percent from the floor and led by up to 20 points before settling for a 43-31 advantage at the break. That was a good response to the 71-64 loss to Boise State on Thursday.

And there is that ACC thing.

''Beating an ACC team feels good for me,'' Turner said. ''Where I grew up, that was the highest level of basketball. In Virginia, it was all about ACC basketball. Ralph Sampson and Virginia was the biggest story in basketball when I was young. It probably means more to me than the players.

''We respect teams from that level, but we don't fear them.''

While the Anteaters were making 16 of their first 27 shots, BC had six turnovers that Irvine turned into 11 points and the Eagles trailed 35-15 when Ioannis Dimakopoulos knocked down a jumper at the 5:29 mark.

A.J. Turner hit a 3-pointer and Ervins Meznieks knocked down treys on back-to-back possessions to quickly cut the margin down to 11, but after the Eagles got within nine, Ndiaye scored six straight.

''I think Mamadou and I definitely set out to get it done inside today,'' Best said. ''I think we took it upon ourselves, since we didn't perform as well last game.''

The Eagles (3-2), who lost big to No. 3 Michigan State on Thanksgiving as Tom Izzo won his 500th game, were led by Jerome Robinson with 15 points while Eli Carter and Dennis Clifford added 14.

Shooting 40 percent in the second half, Boston College never cut the deficit to single digits, though the Eagles made 14 of 16 free throws.

Jerome Robinson hit a jumper with seven minutes left to pull BC within 65-55, but Jaron Martin made 3s on Irvine's next two possessions, which offset a 3-point play by Dennis Clifford.

Martin had 11 points for Irvine with Alex Young adding 10. Luke Nelson had 10 assists - the Anteaters had 21 helpers on 31 baskets. Nelson scored seven points, including a back-breaking 3-pointer with 1:45 left to push the lead to 14.

Best also grabbed nine rebounds as Irvine outrebounded Boston College 36-26.

''The challenges are huge, they are a big load on the front line and we aren't very big at some positions,'' BC coach Jim Christian said. ''We did a bad job containing the ball on the perimeter. If you don't contain the ball in the perimeter it's going to really hurt you because then our guys with size have to rotate over. I thought as bad as we played one-on-one defense in the post, it was our perimeter defense that killed us tonight.''

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.