Anteaters Highlights

General Information

  • NCAA Division: Division I
  • Conference: Big West
  • City: Irvine, California
  • Stadium: Bren Events Center


  • National Championships: 0
  • Conference Titles: 2
  • NCAA Tournaments: 1982, 1986, 2001, 2002, 2014, 2017(Indicates Division II)2015, 2019(Indicates Division I)

Past Conferences:

  • Big West
  • PCAA

Team History

The UC Irvine Anteaters men’s basketball team was established in the 1965 season and has a relatively short history compared to some of the other programs that compete in the Big West Conference. Before building its foundation, the school’s basketball program’s inaugural seasons were spent at the Division II level.

Over the years, the Anteaters men’s basketball team has experienced both unbelievable lows and incredible highs. While the school has made four appearances in the Division II NCAA Tournament, the odds were not in favor of the team because the program registered a combined record of 2-8 in those tournaments, which amplifies some of its struggles in the postseason.

Despite the setbacks, UC Irvine successfully transitioned from Division II to Division I and became a member of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. Tim Tift was the coach at the time, but many anticipated that the pace of the game, level of competition, and recruiting process would be too much to handle all at once.

For the first three years, the program struggled with losing records after making the transition to Division I. However, by the fourth year, the team started to turn things around by making some tough decisions. During this process, the Anteaters parted ways with the head coach and hired Bill Mulligan to fill in the position for the next decade.

Eventually, the Pacific Coast Athletic Association became the Big West Conference. With Mulligan at the helm, the Anteaters had a volatile run from winning 23 games at the start of his tenure to just five towards the end of his tenure. Even with a level of success, the school was far from reaching its goal.

Throughout all this, the team was unable to secure an invitation to any of the NCAA Tournaments. However, the school did participate in the NIT twice, winning two games and losing two games in the 1982 and 1986 seasons.

It was both an underwhelming and a challenging experience for Rod Baker during his tenure with the program. During his six-year tenure, the team had only one winning season. In his final year, the Anteaters struggled tremendously, finishing with a record of 1-25 in the regular season, with their only win coming in conference play. As a result of this turbulent period, it was evident that the program needed to move on.

The program failed to receive any invitations to any postseason tournaments. In the four years since then, the UC Irvine men’s basketball team has participated in the NIT four times but has lost all four first-round games. Additionally, the team made two appearances in the CIT; the 2013 and 2016 seasons.

The best result came in the 2016 invitation. Although the final result is what they hoped, the school lost in the Championship Game to Columbia.

Russ Turner became the only head coach to lead UC Irvine to the March Madness Tournament. In the 2015 season, the Anteaters earned a spot in the dance as a 13th seed for winning the regular-season championship and the conference tournament in the Big West.

The UC Irvine team stats showed major improvements in the scoring department and the harder strength in schedule did not faze the team. Unfortunately, the team lost a close one against Louisville after nearly being on the verge of pulling a major upset in the opening round.

It was the first time in UC Irvine’s history that the team won both the regular season and conference tournament in the same season, which marked a historic season for the program.

In 2019, the UC Irvine men’s basketball team had another chance to make a mark in the program’s history. The script for the Anteaters was essentially similar to their last appearance. Winning the Big West in the regular season, and the tournament earned the program the 13th seed once again.

However, luck was on UC Irvine’s side for the opening game. This time, they did just that by pulling off a significant upset against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament. Regrettably, all good things came to an end, as Oregon’s play style was difficult to overcome since tipoff. Despite the loss, it was a major accomplishment for the program.

Ross Turner will be entering his 13th season with the program and has played at an exceptional level. The team is in a sound position with solid NCAAB odds to win the Big West as they sit in first place in the standings.

All-Time Records

  • Points Scored

Jerry Green 1,993
Tod Murphy 1,777
Luke Nelson 1,531

  • Rebounds

Jerry Green 1,993
Tod Murphy 1,777
Luke Nelson 1,531

  • Assists

Alex Young 576
Raimonds Miglinieks 475
Ben McDonald 426

  • Steals

Jeff Gloger 167
Jerry Green 162
Michael Hunter 160


What is the highest win total in program history?

The program had a highly successful 2018-19 season, winning a total of 31 games. A significant factor in their success was their outstanding conference play record of 15-1, which earned the school a conference title and a ticket to March Madness. In the first round, the team defeated Kansas State, notching the school’s first Division I tournament win in the school’s history.

Who is the winningest coach in program history?

As he enters his 13th season as head coach, Russ Turner is undeniably the most successful coach in UC Irvine men’s basketball history. He is the only coach in the school’s history to reach both the 200-win milestone and the 250-win milestone.

Additionally, he is the only coach to help bring the program to the March Madness Tournament and win a game in the dance. If he stays with the team for the next two to three years, he could separate himself from the rest with 300 wins.

Who is the greatest player in program history?

Several players from the program went on to play in the NBA. However, there are only a few players, such as Scott Brooks and Tom Tolbert, who can be considered the best to come out of the program. Brooks also went to TCU during his collegiate playing career.

Brooks played for several teams in the league for 11 years and won an NBA championship in the 1994 season with the Houston Rockets. In contrast, Tolbert played just seven seasons in the league and made 312 appearances during that span.

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