November 11, 2011

Nunnally Shines as Gauchos Open Season With Victory Over Chapman, 74-48

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - James Nunnally scored 20 points and Orlando Johnson chipped-in 14 as UC Santa Barbara (1-0) opened its 2011-12 season with a 74-48 win over visiting Chapman University (0-1) on Friday night at the Thunderdome. 

Nunnally scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half as the Gauchos blew open what had been a 34-22 game at halftime.  The senior finished the game 9-for-12 from the field overall and 1-for-2 from three-point range.  Johnson was making his first appearance.  He resumed practicing this week after sitting out nearly three weeks with a sore Achilles.  Johnson did not play in last week's exhibition game against San Francisco State.

"James was really, really good tonight," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams who is beginning his 14th season in Santa Barbara.  "He really let the game come to him, showing great patience and unselfishness."

Johnson made just 6-of-13 shots from the field and showed some rust after the long lay-off.

"That wasn't the mid-season O.J. out there tonight," Williams said.  "His timing just isn't there yet, but with him you know it will be."

Nunnally and Johnson, both Preseason All-Big West choices, didn't lack for help from their teammates.  Sophomore guard Kyle Boswell made 4-of-5 shots overall, including 3-of-4 from outside the three-point line, to tie his career-high with 11 points.  He also had a pair of steals.

Freshman point guard T.J. Taylor came off the bench to play 21 minutes.  He had five points and a game-high six assists, including one on a spectacular second half alley-oop to Nunnally with 9:18 left in the game, giving the Gauchos a 55-39 lead.  Williams was more impressed with the catch than the pass. 

"That was a fantastic catch of a tough pass," he said.  "That is a play very few players can make and Nunn is one who can." 

Junior point guard Nate Garth started and also played 21 minutes.  He had two points and four assists.  In fact, Garth and Taylor combined for 10 assists and no turnovers.  UCSB had just seven turnovers as a team to go along with 20 assists.

Another freshman, Alan Williams, made the most of his seven-minute stint as he scored five points, tied for team-high honors with five rebounds and recorded a blocked shot.

As a team, the Gauchos made 29-of-50 shots from the field, 58.0%.  They also hit 8-of-15 three-point attempts, 53.3%. 

Chapman was led by Brandon Lin who made 3-of-6 three-point attempts and scored 11 points.  Jordan Young added nine, all on three-point baskets.  The Panthers shot 40.5% for the game, but hit 9-of-20 three-point attempts, 45.0%.

A negative that came out of the game was a mid second half injury to UCSB freshman guard John Green, who to that point had scored five points and dished off two assists.  After Young made a three-pointer for Chapman, Green turned to go back in the offensive direction and crumpled to the floor with a left foot injury.  The extent of the injury will not be known until x-rays are taken on Saturday.  He was replaced in the game by his fellow-freshman Lewis Thomas.

"That's scary to see," Williams said.  "We can only hope for the best."

The Gauchos remain at home for the next five games.  They will host Santa Clara on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.

Tickets for all UCSB games are available by stopping by the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or by clicking here.  Fans can also still purchase season tickets or for $99, the Big West +1 Plan.  With that plan, fans get a ticket for all eight exciting Big West Conference games and one for either the Nov. 26 game with San Diego State or the Nov. 30 showdown against UNLV.