Jimmy DeGraffenried poured in 23 points, including five three-pointers, and Kirk Smith added 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to propel Weber State to an 86-59 victory over UC-Davis Monday night in Ogden.
The Wildcats, now 3-1 on the season, knocked off a road-weary Aggie team that played twice over the weekend in Colorado and was battling three cases of food poisoning. Davis fell to 2-3 on the year.The Wildcats took a quick 7-1 lead as DeGraffenried scored, Ruben Nembhard canned a trey and Lewis Lofton slammed home a rebound. Weber never trailed, and the Aggies were able to tie the game only once, at 11-all.
But the Wildcats were streaky in the first half, often pulling away but never really putting UC-Davis away. Part of the reason was Davis' zone defense.
"We haven't seen much zone so far," coach Ron Abegglen stated. "They swarmed us defensively inside, and when we kicked the ball outside, we weren't ready to shoot it."
That began to change when DeGraffenried nailed three treys in a three-minute span.
"We finally got Jimmy to look at the hoop," Abegglen said. "He's our zone breaker, and we needed him to take those shots to open things up inside."
After baskets by Chris Vlasic and Kevin Vasquez brought the Ags to within four at 33-29, Justyn Tebbs entered the game for Weber. He hit a three-pointer immediately, then, following a basket by Nembhard, sank two free throws and scored again, giving him seven quick points in just under a minute. When Nembhard dunked 30 seconds later, Weber enjoyed a 44-29 lead, its largest first-half margin. The score was 46-34 at the break.
The Wildcats seemed posed to salt it away by scoring nine of the first 11 points in the second half. Kirk Smith made a pair from the line as a part of his big second-half performance, DeGraffenried sank another trey and two free throws, and Smith scored again to make it 55-36.
Davis turned to the long ball, as former Alta High player Shem Van Der Veur, the only non-Californian on the Davis roster, made back-to-back treys, and the Aggies crawled back to within 12 at 59-47 with 12:03 to play.
Smith continued his second half assault for Weber with two more baskets sandwiched around a free throw from Bryan Emery to stretch the lead back to 64-49.
Davis' last gasp came when Vasquez and Brian O'Connor both scored, the second basket with 7:35 left cutting the lead to 64-51. But the Aggies scored only three more points in the next five minutes, while Weber pulled away to make it 80-54 with 2:22 to go.
Abegglen was much more pleased with his team's play the second half, particularly inside. "We seemed to have much more intensity, and I thought we did a good job of holding them down defensively," he said.
Indeed, the Aggies shot only 29 percent from the field in the second half, finishing at 41 percent for the game. Weber made 49 percent of its shots from the field.
Nembhard chipped in 20 points and had seven assists for Weber. And it was a nice homecoming for Van Der Veur, who led Davis with 13 points. The Aggies missed forward Brad Foss, their leading scorer, who was ill and played only six minutes, scoring two points.
Now the Wildcats turn their sights to Saturday night's matchup with Utah in the Huntsman Center. Weber then travels to Honolulu Dec. 16 and 17 for the Nike Classic before returning home Dec. 21 to host BYU.