Gauchos, Anteaters First-Place Showdown Set for Thursday in Irvine

Taran Brown (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Taran Brown (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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• Coming Up
Game No. 26
Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. 
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Irvine Anteaters

at UCI's Bren Events Center - Irvine, Calif. 
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio:
On-Line Video: ESPN3 or Watch ESPN app

Game No. 27
Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. 
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Davis Aggies

at UCD's Pavilion - Davis, Calif. 
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio:

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters its Thursday game at UC Irvine with an overall record of 18-7 and a Big West record of 9-3. The Gauchos are tied with Irvine for first-place in the Big West Conference and have won two straight, six of seven, nine of 11, and are 15-4 in the last 19 games. In fact, of the four losses in the last 19 games, two came in overtime and another came by two-points. 

ESPN2, ESPNU Opts To Air Pair Of Gauchos Games 
As part of its agreement with the Big West Conference, ESPN selects its late-season games from among any on the schedule and the network has opted for a pair of UCSB contests as its "Wild Card" games this year. The Gauchos' Saturday, Mar. 1 game at UC Davis, scheduled for 7:00 p.m., has been moved to 5:00 p.m. to accommodate ESPN2 and their Mar. 6 home game against Hawaii, scheduled for 7:00 p.m., has been moved to 6:00 p.m. and will air on ESPNU. The two additions to the television schedule will bring to 10 the number of appearances that UCSB has made on regional or national networks this season. The Gauchos will also add to that total with the Big West Tournament.

Williams Ties Big West Record, Named Player Of The Week For Fifth Time
UCSB junior Alan Williams was named Big West Player of the Week on Monday for the fifth time this season, equaling the single-season record previously set by Michael Olowokandi of Pacific (1997-98) and Aaron Nixon of Long Beach State (2006-07). Williams had 19 points, 15 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in the Gauchos' Feb. 20 win over UC Riverside. In that game, he scored six of his points in the final 1:50 to help ice the game. On Feb. 22 vs. Cal State Fullerton, he had 22 points, 18 rebounds and three blocked shots in just 32 minutes. In his career, Williams has now been named Big West Player of the Week seven times, one short of the record. He was selected twice during his sophomore season in 2012-13.

UCSB Remains 13th In Mid-Major Poll
After moving into the No. 10 spot in the Mid-Major Top-25 two weeks ago, the Gauchos remained in the No. 13 spot for the second straight week. When they did get to No. 10, it was the program's highest ranking in the poll since it was No. 6 in December of 2007. UCSB is joined in the poll by fellow Big West Conference member UC Irvine, which is ranked 22nd. Wichita State, which is ranked No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, is ranked No. 1 in the Mid-Major Top-25. 

Possible Starters - Quick Fact
G 3 Zalmico Harmon - Had first double-double with 20 points, 10 assists vs. Fullerton...Has 49 assists and 3 turnovers in the last 9 games, a span of 299 minutes.
G 35 Taran Brown- Has had 5 or more rebounds in 3 straight games...Played 29 minutes vs. Cal State Fullerton, equaling his highest total in 6 games.
F 21 Mitch Brewe - Was scoreless vs. Fullerton, a first in the last 7 games...Has 7 3-point baskets on the season.
F 15  Alan Williams - Leads the NCAA in rebounding at 12.0 per game...Has 15 or more boards in 5 of last 6 games, averaging 15.8 over that span.
G 24 Michael Bryson - Has scored in double-figures in 5 of the last 6 games...Averaged 12.2 points per game over the last 6.

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
G 1 Eric Childress - 27 steals are tied for the 4th most by a freshman in UCSB history...Played 15 minutes vs. Fullerton, lowest total in 6 games.
G 4 Aamahd Walker - Played 1 minute vs. Cal State Fullerton, his first action in 5 games.
G 10 Kyle Boswell - Has 205 threes and needs 13 to move into 2nd and 17 to move into 1st at UCSB...Played season-low 18 minutes in each of last 2 games.
F 31  John Green - Played in two games upon returning from foot injury and then fractured his wrist in practice and will miss the remainder of the season.
F 34  Shawn Moore - Scored 5 points vs. Fullerton, his first points since he had 2 vs. Cal Poly on Jan. 11.
F 44  Sam Beeler - Logged 11 minutes vs. Cal State Fullerton, equaling his highest total in six games...Scored 3 points vs. Titans.

The Opponents
UCSB and UC Irvine have played 80 times since the series began in 1968. The Gauchos hold a 49-31 all-time edge over the Anteaters, including an 80-60 win on Jan. 30 at the Thunderdome. Last year, each team won on its home floor with Irvine winning 62-60 at the Bren Events Center. Santa Barbara and UC Davis have played 28 times with the Gauchos holding a 23-5 lead in the series. UCSB defeated the Aggies on Feb. 1 in Santa Barbara, 82-67. Last year, the teams split games with each winning in the other team's arena. The Gauchos won in Davis, 66-59 and the Aggies won in Santa Barbara, 64-56.

The Gauchos On The Road
The Gauchos are 7-4 in true road games this season and 9-4 overall in games away from home. When they lost 74-72 at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 25 it ended a streak of four-straight wins away from home, but they've gotten back on the winning track with a decisive 75-64 win at Hawaii on Feb. 6 and then a thrilling 65-64 win at Long Beach State on Feb. 13. They have won six of their last seven games away from the Thunderdome, defeating Western Illinois at Logan, Utah on Dec. 21, Seattle on the road on Dec. 30, Cal State Northridge on Jan. 18 and UC Riverside on Jan. 23. The nine wins away from home are six more than UCSB won all of last season. 

Williams Stakes Claim To National Rebounding Lead
Alan Williams has been on a rebounding binge lately. In the last six games, he has collected 95 boards, an average of 15.8 per game to improve his season average from 10.6 per game to 12.0 per game. Williams now leads the nation in rebounding by 0.4 per game over Chad Posthumus of Morehead State. The only other Gaucho player ever to rank among the top-five in rebounding average at the NCAA Division I level was Eric McArthur who finished third in 1990 at 13.0 per game

Williams Continues To Climb Scoring List
Alan Williams tallied 22 points in UCSB's win over Cal State Fullerton and now has 1,205 in his career. In the win over the Titans, Williams passed James Powell (1,184), John Tschogl (1,197) and Dave Brown (1,199) to move into 16th on the Gauchos' all-time scoring list. His next targets are Gary Gray (1,227), Tex Walker (1,235), Conner Henry (1,236) and Richard Anderson (1,247). 

Williams Continues To Scale Rebound List Too
Alan Williams recently became the sixth UCSB player to eclipse 700 career rebounds and he hasn't stopped there. Williams had 18 rebounds in the Gauchos' win over Cal State Fullerton and now has 770, the fourth most in school history. Against the Titans, he passed Richard Anderson to claim the No. 4 spot. He needs 31 to move past Tex Walker and into third all-time.  

Williams Is First Gaucho With 20/20 In 24 Years
Alan Williams had 27 points and 20 rebounds in the Feb. 1 win over UC Davis and in doing so, he became the first UCSB player to have 20 or more points and 20 or more rebounds in the same game since Eric McArthur had 28 points and 21 rebounds in a Jan. 29, 1990 overtime win over Cal State Fullerton. In fact, Williams' 20/20 performance was the first in regulation by a Gaucho since McArthur had 24 points and 20 rebounds in a Dec. 9, 1989 game against Loyola Marymount. 

Harmon Has Milestone Of His Own
Alan Williams set a milestone when he went for 27 points and 20 rebounds against UC Davis and now, Zalmico Harmon has achieved his own milestone. When Harmon had 20 points and 10 assists in the Gauchos' Feb. 22 win over Cal State Fullerton, he became the first UCSB player to have 20 or more points and 10 or more assists in nearly 25 years. Carrick DeHart had 26 points and 11 assists in a Dec. 9, 1989 game at Loyola Marymount.

Near Perfect Harmony 
Zalmico Harmon played 32 minutes in the Feb. 22 win over Cal State Fullerton and did not commit a turnover. In the previous game, a win over UC Riverside, he logged 35 minutes...and didn't commit a turnover. In his last nine games, a span of 299 minutes, Harmon has three turnovers and 49 assists, a 16.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. His recent tremendous run has improved his season ratio to 4.52-to-1, second in the nation and first in the Big West Conference. For the season, Harmon is averaging a turnover every 27.1 minutes and in the last nine games he is committing one turnover every 99.7 minutes. Finally, he has zero turnovers in 10 games and one in six others. On two occasions this season, Harmon has had 10 assists and no turnovers in a game.  

From The Outhouse To The Penthouse
On Thursday, Feb. 20, the Gauchos shot a season-low 31.4% in their win over UC Riverside. Not only was the 31.4% a season-low, it was a season-low by a wide margin. The previous low of 35.8% was set on Dec. 21 against Western Illinois. In the Feb. 22 win over Cal State Fullerton, UCSB turned the tables by shooting 56.5%, the highest mark of the year and a 25.1% improvement over the previous game. It was the 11th time this season that the Gauchos shot 50.0% or better.

Rebounding Streak Continues
The Gauchos outrebounded Cal State Fullerton by a 34-28 margin and it was the eighth straight opponent that has been outreboundeded. While UCSB is third in the Big West in overall rebounding margin, it leads the way in rebounding margin in conference games at +5.4, nearly a rebound better than Hawaii, which is second at +4.5.

Putting The Three On Ice
For at least one game, UCSB put the three-point shot on the back burner. In its win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Santa Barbara attempted just eight three-point field goals, five fewer than the previous low of 13, set one game earlier against UC Riverside. In the last two games, the Gauchos have tried 21 threes, fewer than they attempted in five games this season and easily the lowest two-game total of the year.

That 70s Show
UCSB has allowed fewer than 70 points 17 times in the first 25 games of the 2013-14 season, going 17-0 in the process. The Gauchos have held nine of their last 11 opponents under the 70-point barrier.  

A Turnover Turnaround
In a Feb. 15 overtime loss to Cal State Northridge, UCSB had 18 turnovers, one shy of its season-high. In the two games since, the Gauchos have had a total of 16 turnovers, nine against UC Riverside and seven vs. Cal State Fullerton. The single-digit turnover performances against the Highlanders and Titans give them 11 such performances this season.

The "Other" Williams
Junior forward Alan Williams, who was named Big West Player of the Week for the fifth time this season on Monday, continues to lead the Big West in scoring (22.5 ppg) and rebounding (12.0 rpg). He has claimed the national lead in rebounding and now ranks eighth in scoring. In the last six games, Williams is averaging 15.8 rebounds per game catapulting him into national lead. He has scored 20 or more points in seven of the last nine games and 17 times this season. He has been in double-figures in all 23 games in which he has played and he's scored 25 or more seven times. Williams has 13 double-doubles on the year, including three straight and six of the last seven, and now has 30 in his career. In the Gauchos' Feb. 1 win over UC Davis, he had 27 points and a career-high 20 rebounds to become the first UCSB player in 24 years to record a 20/20 game or, for that matter, a 20 rebound game. He also had a career-high four assists in the win over the Aggies. On Jan. 18 at Cal State Northridge, Williams became the 26th UCSB player to score 1,000 points in a career and now ranks 16th with 1,205. On Nov. 29 he set a career-high and tied the school record for points in a game when he poured in 39 against South Dakota State. Williams tied a record previously held by Orlando Johnson and Scott Fisher. In that game, he also tied Greg Somogyi's school record with eight blocked shots. When he had 33 points and 15 rebounds on Jan. 11 vs. Cal Poly it marked the second time in his career that he had at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a game. Last season, he had 32 points and 16 rebounds in a win at Cal State Northridge and in doing so, he became the first Gaucho since 1990 to produce such a game. Williams had three blocked shots in the Feb. 22 game against Cal State Fullerton and now has 160 in his career, third all-time. Finally, after Saturday's win over the Titans, Williams' single-season totals of 518 points, 275 rebounds and 57 blocked shots rank him 10th, ninth and sixth respectively on UCSB's single-season top-10 lists. He is the only player in school history to rank in the top-10 in all three of those single-season categories, much less for the same season. 

Boswell That Ends Well
After starting the first five games of the season, Kyle Boswell has come off the bench in the last 25. The reigning Big West Sixth Man of the Year, he is third on the team in scoring at 10.4 points per game, but in recent games, Boswell has found the offensive going tough. He has scored fewer than 10 points in four of the last five games, including the last three. In the last five, he has averaged 4.2 points per game and made just 6-of-26 field goals overall, 23.1%, and 5-of-20 from three-point range, 25.0%. Despite the current lull, Boswell remains the Gauchos' leader in three-point field goals with 62 and three-point percentage at 43.4%. He now has 205 career threes, third in school history. He needs 17 to become UCSB's all-time leader. He scored a season and career-high 27 points on Dec. 20 at Utah State. In that same game, he tied his career-high with seven three-point baskets. On Dec. 30 at Seattle, Boswell scored 19 points and hit 5-of-6 three-point attempts. He has made at least one three-pointer in 23 of 25 games, including the first 20 in a row. He has hit two or more 16 times and four or more five times. In addition to the Utah State and Seattle games, Boswell made five in a Nov. 12 win at UNLV and five on Dec. 3 at UCLA. On Jan. 18 at Cal State Northridge, he notched a career-high eight assists. He is now averaging 2.8 per game and has had four or more 10 times. 

The Life Of Bryson
Michael Bryson, a two-time Big West Player of the Week this season, is second on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game and he enters the weekend having scored in double-figures in five of the last six games. In the last six, Bryson is averaging 12.2 points per game. Overall this season, he has scored 10 or more points 15 times in his 24 games. He went for a season-high 21 points in a Dec. 15 win at San Diego, earning him the first of two Big West Player of the Week honors. On Feb. 6, in a win at Hawaii, Bryson scored 18 points. In addition to ranking second on the team in scoring, he is third in rebounding at 4.4 per game and second in three-point baskets with 41. He made a season-high five threes in the win at San Diego and he's had two or more 11 times. On Dec. 3 at UCLA, Bryson registered the first double-double of his career when he had 15 points and 10 rebounds. He also had a career-high five assists against the Bruins. His personal best for points and three-pointers came in the Gauchos' game against Pacific at last year's Big West Tournament when he set a school record for points by a freshman with 29 and tied a freshman record with seven threes.  

Taran It Up
Taran Brown is averaging 7.9 points per game, fourth on the team, and 4.7 rebounds per outing, second on the team. In the last seven games, Brown has scored in double-figures four times and averaged 10.0 points per game. He scored a season and career-high 23 points and made a career-high seven three-pointers in a Nov. 21 game at Colorado. Overall, Brown has been in double-figures 10 times. He tied his season-high with eight rebounds on Feb. 15 vs. Cal State Northridge and he has had five or more in three straight and 13 times overall. His 35 three-point baskets rank third on the team. After a stretch in which he made 10-of-43 three-point attempts, 23.3%, he has made 13 of his last 33, 39.4%. Last season, Brown set a UCSB freshman record for three-point baskets with 58. Among everything else he does, he has become a shot-blocker for the Gauchos as well. He is second to Alan Williams with 24 blocks on the season. On two occasions, Brown has blocked a career-high four, on Nov. 6 vs. Cal and Feb. 15 vs. Cal State Northridge. Finally, while he has just 33 free throw attempts on the season, 18 have come in the last seven games.

Junior Zalmico Harmon is on one of the most amazing runs that a UCSB point guard has ever been on. In his last nine games, a span of 299 minutes, Harmon has 49 assists and a mere three turnovers. He has moved into second-place nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.52-to-1 and in Big West games the ratio is an even more impressive 6.3-to-1. In the Gauchos Feb. 22 win over Cal State Fullerton, Harmon had 20 points, 10 assists and no turnovers. He became the first UCSB player since December of 1989 to have 20 or more points and 10 or more assists in the same game. On Feb. 15 vs. Cal State Northridge, Harmon scored a career-high 21 points and added eight assists. He is now averaging a season-high 8.2 points per game and has scored at a 16.0 per game clip in the last three. Harmon is second in the Big West in assist average at 5.2 per game. He has had a season-high 10 assists three times and on two of those occasions didn't commit a turnover. In the third instance, he had one turnover. In fact, Harmon has had no turnovers 10 times this year and he's had one in six other games. In all, he has 29 assists in 784 minutes, or one every 27.1 minutes. In the last nine games, he has averaged one turnover every 99.7 minutes. Among his other attributes, he has also become a legitimate three-point shooting threat for the Gauchos. He was 2-for-2 in the win over Cal State Fullerton and has now made 18 on the season, including 10-of-20, 50.0%, in the last nine games.

Freshman Eric Childress is averaging 5.4 points, 3.1 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He played just 15 minutes in the win over Cal State Fullerton, his lowest total in six games. Childress had a career-high 11 points in the Gauchos' Feb. 13 win at Long Beach State, it was his third double-digit scoring effort of the season. He also had 10 (all on free throws) on Dec. 30 at Seattle, and 10 on Nov. 21 at Colorado. Childress set a career-high with seven assists on Jan. 25 at UC Riverside. He has also had six assists three times, once each against Colorado, South Dakota State and The Master's College. Finally, his 27 steals are the fourth most ever by a UCSB freshman.

Something's Brewing
Mitch Brewe is averaging 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds overall. He was scoreless in 22 minutes in the win over Cal State Fullerton. It was his first scoreless game in seven games. In the previous game, a win over UC Riverside, Brewe had eight points, including his seventh three-pointer of the season. He scored a career-high 12 points on Jan. 16 vs. Long Beach State and he had 11 points in wins over The Master's College and Cal State Northridge. Against The Master's Brewe had a career-high 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. He had an eight-rebound game in a Feb. 6 win at Hawaii and he's had five or more boards in seven times. Brewe has also developed into one of the team's best free throw shooters. Since missing his first free throw this season he has gone 18-of-20, 90.0%. At one point, he made 15 in a row. Finally, after missing the first three games of the regular season, Brewe has played in the last 22, making 19 starts.

Sam He Is
Sam Beeler is averaging 2.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. After totaling just eight points over a eight game span, he had three in the win over Cal State Fullerton. Beeler has been in double-figures twice. He scored a season-high 14 on Nov. 16 vs. Utah State and added 10 on Jan. 18 at Cal State Northridge. In the latter of the two, he hit all four of his field goal attempts. Beeler had a career-high three blocked shots on Feb. 1 vs. UC Davis and his 14 total blocks rank Beeler fourth on the team. Beeler had a career-high seven rebounds on Nov. 12 at UNLV, but after having 17 boards in his first three games, he's had 31 since.

A Little More Moore
Shawn Moore played 13 minutes vs. Cal State Fullerton, his longest stint since Jan. 11. He scored five points, one shy of his season-high, and made 2-of-3 field goal attempts.