UCSB Returns Home to Host UCI Thursday, Long Beach in TV Showdown Saturday at 4:00 pm

Taran Brown (Photo by Kelley Cox)
Taran Brown (Photo by Kelley Cox)

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• This Week
Game No. 13
Thursday, January 3, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. 
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Irvine Anteaters 

at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video Streaming: BigWest.TV
Live Stats: Primetime 

Game No. 14
Saturday, January 5, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. 
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Long Beach State 49ers 

at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Live Stats: Primetime 

• Single Game Tickets Available!
Single game tickets for all Gaucho men's and women's basketball games are now available and can be purchased in advance from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here

• On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live in Santa Barbara on AM 1290 KZSB and will stream live online at UCSBgauchos.com and NewsPress.com. Gerry Fall is in his ninth year as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos. Former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford  and Santa Barbara News-Press legend Mark Patton handle the color commentary.

• Talk'n Gauchos
UCSB Athletics' weekly radio show, Talk'n Gauchos, airs every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on AM 1290 KZSB. The show is broadcast live from The Beachside Café, located on Goleta Beach and it features UCSB coaches and athletes.  Hosted by Gerry Fall, the voice of the Gauchos.  Fans can also catch Gaucho head coach Bob Williams every Thursday morning at 8:50 a.m. as he visits with Baron Ron Herron on "Bob and The Baron" on AM 1290.

Gauchos Return Home, Look To Get Back On Track   
UC Santa Barbara opened the 2012-13 Big West schedule at Cal State Fullerton, one of the league favorites on Dec. 29.  The Gauchos dropped the high-scoring affair to the Titans, 86-79.  This week, UCSB returns to the Thunderdome for the first time since Dec. 15 and just the second time in 36 days to host conference foes UC Irvine and Long Beach State.  Saturday's game against the 49ers will tip-off at 4:00 p.m. to accommodate Fox Sports Prime Ticket which will televise it live.  

The UCSB Record
UCSB enters Thursday game against UC Irvine with a record of 4-8 overall and an 0-1 mark in the Big West.  The Gauchos are coming off an 86-79 loss to Cal State Fullerton that opened Big West play.  In all, Santa Barbara has dropped three straight games and four of its last five.  The four losses have come at the hands of San Diego State, Cal, Wyoming and Fullerton. 

Offense Perks Up, Defense Take Some Time Off In 86-79 Loss At Fullerton
Alan Williams scored 22 points and added 16 rebounds, and Taran Brown had 20 points, eight rebounds and a career-high six three-pointers, but UCSB struggled on the defensive end and suffered an 86-79 loss at Cal State Fullerton to open Big West play.  The Gauchos allowed the Titans to make 26-of-49 shots overall, including 14-of-30 from three-point range.  Fullerton's Sammy Yeager was outstanding from the outside, making 8-of-11 three-point attempts and finishing with a career-high 30 points.  UCSB was solid offensively as it made 31-of-64 overall, 48.4%, and 15-of-36 from three-point territory, 41.7%.  The 15 three-pointers were a season-high for the Gauchos who had produced a season-low one in their previous game at Wyoming.  Lewis Thomas made 3-for-5 from three-point range to score a career-high 11 points, all in the first half.  T.J. Taylor made all three of his three-point attempts and had nine points.  Nate Garth added nine points and a game-high eight assists.  Kwame Vaughn added 27 points for the Titans.  Fullerton was 20-of-21 from the free throw line while UCSB was just 2-of-3.

Strength Of Schedule + Young Team = Tough Start 
In a survey conducted at the outset of the season, UCSB had the third youngest team at the NCAA Division I level.  The Gaucho roster includes eight freshmen, three sophomores, four juniors and one senior.  The only two programs younger were Navy and Dartmouth.  In the most recent Division I RPI, UCSB's non-conference Strength of Schedule ranked number one.  The Gaucho non-conference schedule of San Diego State, Wyoming (twice), Boise State, LSU, Illinois State, Santa Clara and the University of San Diego (plus two NAIA opponents) is ranked as the toughest in the nation, ahead of No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Colorado, No. 5 North Carolina State and No. 6 Butler.  The combination of a very young team and a very difficult schedule, played primarily on the road, has combined to equal a 4-8 start for the Gauchos.

Probable Starters - Quick Fact (Note: These are almost completely guesses.)
G 1   Nate Garth - Had eight assists and just one turnover in UCSB's game at Fullerton.
F 12 Lewis Thomas - Made three three-pointers and had career-high 11 points at Fullerton.  
F 15 Alan Williams - Has two straight double-doubles and six on the season.
G 24 Michael Bryson - Missed three shots and was scoreless at Fullerton.  
F 35 Taran Brown- Made career-high six three-pointers and had 20 points at Fullerton.

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
G 4 Aamahd Walker - Back injury has him sidelined him indefinitely and he could redshirt.
F 5 Keegan Hornbuckle- Ankle sprain has him sidelined indefinitely.
G 10 Kyle Boswell - Streak of six-straight double-figure scoring games ended at Fullerton.
G 11 T.J. Taylor- Tied career-high with three three-point baskets in game at Fullerton.  
F 21 Mitch Brewe - Collected career-high seven rebounds at Wyoming on Dec. 21.
G 32  John Green - Projected starter, but broken bone in his foot has him sidelined indefinitely.
F 34  Shawn Moore - Played seven minutes at Wyoming, but was a DNP at Fullerton
G 43  Duke DaRé - Injured shoulder kept him out of Fullerton game.
F 44  Sam Beeler - Has made 10-for-13 from the field in the last five games, 76.9%.

The Opponents
UCSB has played UC Irvine 77 times since 1968.  The Gauchos hold a 47-30 edge and swept last year's two meetings, winning at Santa Barbara on Jan. 14 by a score of 74-56 and at Irvine on Feb. 15, 85-62.  Santa Barbara has played Long Beach State more than any other opponent.  The 49ers and Gauchos have met 114 times and Long Beach holds a 59-55 all-time edge and won all three games last season, including a 77-64 victory in the Big West Tournament Championship game.  The match-up in the league tourney final was the third straight between the schools.  UCSB won the first two.

Dome, Sweet Dome 
UCSB is 3-1 at home this season.  After opening the year with Thunderdome wins over The Master's College and the University of San Diego, the Gauchos dropped a game to Wyoming.  On Dec. 15, they defeated San Diego Christian.  That was their last home appearance.  Last season, UCSB went 11-3 at home with the losses coming to Long Beach State, San Diego State (in overtime) and UNLV (in double overtime), all teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In the last five-plus years, the Gauchos have gone 54-17.

The Injury Roundup 
Junior forward Keegan Hornbuckle re-sprained his ankle in UCSB's Dec. 1 win at Santa Clara and has missed the last five games.  He remains sidelined indefinitely and most likely will not return until some later point in January.  Freshman guard Aamahd Walker remains sidelined with a back injury and after playing in the first two games of the season, is a candidate to redshirt.  Another freshman guard, John Green, expected to be a starter this season, is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his foot. 

Youth Is Served
The Gauchos' leading scorer is sophomore Alan Williams.  Their second leading scorer is freshman Taran Brown.  The fifth leading scorer is freshman Michael Bryson.  Of the 786 points that UCSB has scored through 12 games this season 565, or 71.9%, have been scored by freshmen or sophomores.  Of the team's 399 individual rebounds 341, or 85.5%, have been collected by freshmen and sophomores.  Finally, of the team's 50 blocked shots 50, or 100.0%, have been recorded by freshmen and sophomores.   

Three-Pointers Make A Comeback
UCSB made a season-high 15 three-point baskets in its Big West-opener at Cal State Fullerton.  The 15 rank as the third most in school history, three fewer than the record 18 threes the Gauchos hit in a Big West Tournament game against New Mexico State in 1995 and one fewer than the 16 they drained in an NCAA Tournament game against Arizona in 2002.  The 15 three-pointers came one game after UCSB made a season-low one, in 13 attempts, at Wyoming on Dec. 21.  That game against the Cowboys ended a run of four straight games in which the Gauchos set or tied their previous season-high. In two games prior to Wyoming they made a season-high 13 three-point baskets - a win over San Diego Christian on Dec. 15 and a Dec. 18 loss at Cal.  The pair of 13 three-point performances came on the heels of games at San Diego State  (Dec. 6) and Santa Clara (Dec. 1) in which UCSB hit 12 and 11 three-pointers respectively.  Santa Barbara has made 40.6% or better from three-point range in five of the last six games.  On the year, they are averaging 8.75 three-pointers per game, a figure that would give them about 260 over the 30-game schedule, well ahead of the current record of 242 set in  32 games during the 2007-08 season.

Nothing Is Free
Three-pointers are all well and good, but when you only attempt three free throws in a game, it's tough to win.  The Gauchos - Alan Williams, actually - made just 2-for-3 from the free throw line in the loss to Fullerton.  It was the fourth time in the last seven games that they attempted five or fewer free throws.  On the season, UCSB is averaging just 14.2 free throw attempts per game, 4.2 fewer than its opponents, and the Gauchos have been outscored at the line by 41 points, 3.4 points per game.  

UCSB's seven-point defeat at Fullerton was its narrowest loss of the season.  Previously, the Gauchos 68-59 loss at Cal was their closest loss.  The only other single-digit margin, win or lose, in a game this season came on Dec. 1 when Santa Barbara went on the road and defeated Santa Clara in overtime, 83-80.  In all, nine of the team's 12 games have been decided by 14 points or more. 

The "Other" Williams
Sophomore Alan Williams continues to lead the Gauchos in scoring (16.8 points per game), rebounds (10.3 per game) and blocked shots (2.0 per game).  He enters the week ranked sixth in the Big West in scoring, first in rebounding and second in blocked shots.  Williams is averaging a double-double.  The last Gaucho to finish the season averaging 10 or more points and 10 or more rebounds per game was Eric McArthur in 1990.  After struggling offensively at Cal on Dec. 18, Williams  has responded with back-to-back double-doubles.  He had 16 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 21 at Wyoming and in the league-opener at Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 29, he had 22 points and 16 rebounds.  The 16 boards were the second-highest total of his career.  It marked the sixth double-double Williams has put up this season and the eighth in his career.  In fact, he has double-doubles in three of his last four games and four of his last six. On Dec. 1 at Santa Clara, Williams had a career-best game with 29 points and 17 rebounds.  That performance was the first time a Gaucho has had 25 or more points and 15 or more rebounds in the same game since Jan. 29, 1990 when McArthur had 28 points and 21 rebounds against Cal State Fullerton.  The 17 boards were the most by a UCSB player since Josh Merrill collected 18 against Westmont on Dec. 7, 1996. For his efforts, Williams was named Big West Player of the Week.  He has scored in double-figures in 11 of 12 games this season and has 20 or more three times.  Williams had a blocked shot in the game at Fullerton and now has 65 for his career, in just 42 games, a total that ranks 10th on UCSB's all-time career list.  This year he has a high of five on Nov. 21 against San Diego and he's had at least one in nine of 12 games.  In fact, he's had at least two in eight of the games.  Finally, Williams has seven games this season with 10 or more rebounds and only one other Gaucho has had at least 10 in any single game. 

Taran It Up
Freshman Taran Brown bounced back from one of his worst games of the season with one of his best.  Brown struggled in his return to his home state of Wyoming on Dec. 21, making 2-of-9 shots from the field, missing all five of his three-point attempts and scoring just four points. On Dec. 29 at Cal State Fullerton, Brown was 7-for-15 from the field overall, including 6-of-13 from three-point range, and had 20 points.  He also had eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.  The six three-pointers were a career-high and it was his first 20 point game since he had 22 and 20 in back-to-back games against Illinois State and The Master's College in mid-November.  When he did have 20 or more in consecutive games, he became the first Gaucho freshman ever to do so.  The 22 he had at Illinois State were the most by a UCSB freshman since James Nunnally had 22 in a game against North Carolina on Nov. 21, 2008.  Brown is still second on the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game, a figure that ranks him first among Big West Conference freshmen and 13th overall.  He also leads the team in three-point baskets with 33, or 2.7 per game, a figure that ranks second in the Big West. Brown is second on the team in rebounding at 5.8 per game and he has had six or more five times.  He recorded his first career double-double when he had 20 points and 13 rebounds vs. The Master's College on Nov. 17.  Brown has now made at least one three-point basket in 10 of 12 games, two or more nine times and three or more eight times, including five of the last six games. Since missing his first eight three-pointers this season, he has gone 33-of-88, 41.2%. With 33 three-point baskets this season, he already ranks third on UCSB's all-time freshman list, easily within striking distance of the record of 43 set by Idris Jones in 1990.  Finally, Brown has 13 blocked shots on the year, tied for the sixth most by a Gaucho freshman. 

Who's The Bos?
Junior Kyle Boswell had his career-long streak of six straight double-figure games ended at Cal State Fullerton when he finished with eight points on 3-of-11 overall and 2-for-9 from three-point range.  Boswell is third on the team at 11.5 points per game and second in three-point baskets with 32.  His 2.67 threes per game rank third in the Big West Conference.  In seven games since his scoring average dipped to a season-low 8.0 per game, Boswell has averaged 14.7 points per game, making 24-of-57 from three-point range over that span, 42.1%.  He had a career-best 23 points and a career-best seven three-point baskets on Dec. 6 at San Diego State.  The game against the Aztecs was the second of four straight in which Boswell made at least four three-point shots, also a career-first.  The seven threes he drained at SDSU were the most by a Gaucho since Joe See made eight at Utah State on Jan. 6, 2005.  He has now made 97 career three-point baskets and needs 24 to move into 10th-place on UCSB's all-time list.  Finally, since starting the first five games of the season, Boswell has come off the bench in seven straight.

The World According To Garth 
Point guard Nate Garth has had two of his best games as a Gaucho in the last three.  On Dec. 29 at Cal State Fullerton, Garth played a season-high 34 minutes and had nine points, eight assists and just one turnover.  He made 4-of-9 shots overall, including 1-of-4 from three-point range.  On Dec. 18 at Cal he had 11 points, six assists and six rebounds.  On the season, the team's only senior is averaging 5.9 points and a team-high 4.3 assists per game.  He is fourth in the Big West in assists and  fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio.  Garth had a career-high nine assists on Dec. 6 at San Diego State and has had five or more six times in 12 games.  He has started all 12 games and while he played a high of 34 minutes in the game at Fullerton , he has now played 21 or more six straight and 25 or more in five of the last six.

Aussie Rules 
One game after going scoreless at Wyoming, sophomore forward Lewis Thomas scored a career-high 11 points in the game at Cal State Fullerton.  Thomas made three three-point baskets and scored all 11 of his points in the first half against the Titans.  On the season the Perth native is averaging 3.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.  He has exactly 47 points and 47 rebounds.  Thomas is tied for third on the team with 11 three-point baskets.  Interestingly, while he is 11-of-23 overall from three-point range, he has gone 0-for-4 in home games and 11-for-19 in road games, 57.9%.  In fact, in the team's last six road games he has made nine of 14 three-point attempts, 64.3%.  His rebounding, which at 3.9 per game ranks third on the team, has been solid everywhere.  He had a career-high nine on Nov. 17 vs. The Master's College, but he's had six in three other games, including two of the last four.   

Taylor Made
Sophomore point guard T.J. Taylor had one of his best all-around games on Dec. 29 at Cal State Fullerton.  Taylor had five assists and just one turnover, but he was also a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range and scored nine points.  The six assists were one shy of his season-high (on Dec. 1 at Santa Clara he had six assists and no turnovers) and the nine points were one off of his season-high (10 in games at Illinois State and vs. The Master's College). 

The Life Of Bryson
Freshman Michael Bryson is averaging 4.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.  He has played in 11 of the 12 games this season, missing most of the Nov. 12 game at Illinois State and all of the Nov. 17 contest against The Master's College with a strained back.  Bryson is tied for third on the team with 11 three-point baskets, having made two in five different games.  He scored a season-high 10 points in UCSB's opener at LSU.  He has, however, struggled with his shooting lately.  He was scoreless and 0-for-3 from the field at Fullerton and has now gone 3-for-22 in the last five games, 13.6%.  Bryson had a season-high seven rebounds on Nov. 21 at Boise State and he has had five two other times. 

Sam He Is
Freshman Sam Beeler had his best game in front of his hometown fans.  On Dec. 6 at San Diego State he made all four of his field goal attempts and had career-highs of eight points and five rebounds.  In the next game, against San Diego Christian, he had six points and made all three of his field goal attempts.  Beeler is averaging 4.0 points per game over the last five games.  Also, in the last five, he's made 10-of-13 shots, 76.9%.