Six-Game Winning Streak in Tow, UCSB Travels to Montana State for Saturday Afternoon Showdown

Leland King (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Leland King (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

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Upcoming Games
Game No. 10
Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Montana State Bobcats

at MSU's Brick Breeden Fieldhouse - Bozeman, Mont.
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: BigSkyConf.com

Game No. 11
Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos USC Trojans

at USC's Galen Center - Los Angeles, Calif.
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
TV: Pac 12 Network

This Week
UC Santa Barbara will play its last game prior to final examinations when it heads to Bozeman, Mont., to take on Montana State. The game will mark the team's fourth road game of the season and its sixth away from the Thunderdome. After the Gauchos play the Bobcats they will take a week off before returning to play at USC on Sunday, Dec. 17.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter Saturday's game at Montana State with a 7-2 record.  The 7-2 start is the program's best since the 2007-08 season when it began the year with an 8-1 record through nine games. That team ultimately went 10-1 before losing at top-ranked North Carolina. In 2016-17, the Gauchos were 1-8 through their first nine games.

• UCSB Extends Winning Streak to Six 
On Tuesday, UCSB defeated the Omaha by a score of 77-70. The win was the Gauchos sixth in a row, their longest winning streak since the 2015-16 season when they won nine in a row, eight to end the regular season and then another in the first round of the Big West Tournament. In 2016-17, Santa Barbara never won more than one game in succession, which they did six times during the 6-22 season.

Pasternack Off to Best Start Ever
Joe Pasternack is off to the best start of any first-year head coach in UCSB history. Pastrnack's 7-2 record is two games better than the 5-4 mark that Jerry Pimm's team produced to open the 1983-84 campaign and that Art Gallon's team was to begin the 1957-58 season.

UCSB Remains Perfect in the Golden State, Against the WCC
In November, UCSB played seven games over an 18-day period in five different cities and three different time zones. In the end, the Gauchos finished 5-2 over that span with two of the wins coming against West Coast Conference opponents in Pepperdine and San Francisco. They then opened December with a win over San Diego, a third WCC opponent. On Tuesday, Santa Barbara recorded a 77-70 win over Omaha at the Thunderdome. The victory over the Mavericks gives UCSB a perfect 7-0 record in games played in California this season. The meaning? Probably none, but it's still a cool fact.

Gauchos Top Omaha, 77-70
Max Heidegger scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half while Leland King II and Jalen Canty each added a double-double to help UCSB past visiting Omaha on Tuesday night, 77-70. The game was close for much of the way and, in fact, was tied at 45 when a Heidegger three-pointer gave the Gauchos a 48-45 lead and kick-started a 22-7 run that put them comfortably in front at 67-52 with 5:23 to play. The Mavericks got within seven points twice the rest of the way but could get no closer. At one point in the first half, UCSB missed 13 straight shots, but heated up in the second half, making 18-of-30 field goal attempts, 60.0%, to secure a seventh straight win. King had 22 points and 13 rebounds for his fourth consecutive double-double, while Canty added a season-high 14 points to go along with 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. It was his third double-double of the year. 

The Opponents
UCSB and Montana State have played 10 times in a series that began in 1972. The Gauchos hold a 9-1 all-time edge. The teams last met on Dec. 12, 2009 with the Bobcats recording a 76-64 victory in Bozeman. The last time Santa Barbara won a game in the series was on February 21, 2009, when it won a 78-72 overtime in game. The Gauchos and USC have played 14 times in a series that began in 1946 and the Trojans hold a decisive all-time advantage of 13-1, including a 96-72 win on Nov. 27, 2016. UCSB's only victory in the series came on Dec. 3, 2002, at the Thunderdome, 69-53.

UCSB Away From Home 
The Gauchos have won three consecutive games away from home and are 3-2 when they play away from the Thunderdome, including 2-2 in true road games. UCSB's streak reached three when it posted a 79-72 win at San Francisco on Nov. 28. The Gauchos also won both games at the Progressive Legends Classic, defeating the host Pepperdine on Nov. 20, 92-84, and then beating Montana on Nov. 21 in a neutral court game, 80-73. Santa Barbara was 1-14 away from home in 2016-17, going 1-12 in true road games and 0-2 in neutral site games. 

The Fab Five
UCSB enters Saturday's game at Montana State with three players averaging in double-figures and two others on the cusp. Guard Max Heidegger leads the team at 23.9 points per game and he is followed, in order, by Leland King II (18.6 ppg), Jalen Canty (10.9 ppg), Gabe Vincent (9.9 ppg) and Marcus Jackson (9.0 ppg). The Gauchos have had those five players score in double-figures in the same game twice this season, on Nov. 28 at San Francisco and Nov. 20 at Pepperdine. The game at Pepperdine was actually the first opportunity for them to achieve the feat. Jackson missed the first three games of the season with a hip injury and returned for the game in Malibu. Last season, UCSB had five players score in double-figures in the same game just once, an 80-76 loss to Seattle University. In fact, the last time a Gaucho team had five players score in double-figures in a game more than once was in 2012-13 when it occurred twice.

In Search of a Bench
While all five starters are averaging in or very near double-figures, UCSB is still searching for some punch off the bench. Gaucho starters, including Christian Terrell's three starts in place of the an injured Marcus Jackson, have scored 628 of the team's 676 total points, 93.0%. During the team's six-game winning streak, UCSB starters have scored 440 of the team's 464 points, 94.8%. The leading "scorer" off of the Gauchos' bench is Ami Lakoju who has totaled 19 points, including four in Tuesday's win over Omaha. 

Jackson Sets Career High in Assists
Graduate transfer Marcus Jackson missed all five of his shots in UCSB's 77-70 win over Omaha on Tuesday, but he was still, without question, an integral part of the victory. Jackson passed off for 11 assists, a career-high not only for his time as a Gaucho, but also for his three years of action at Rice. His previous career-high of eight came against James Madison during the 2015-16 season. Jackson's 11 assists were also the most by a UCSB player since Justin Joyner had 12 against Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 16, 2011.

Playing the Percentages
As a team, UCSB is shooting 45.8% from the field while its opponents have made just 42.8% of their shots. The Gauchos have limited three of the last four opponents to below 40.0% from the field and in the last four games the opposition has made just 97 of its 251 shots, 38.6%. Meanwhile, UCSB has made over 40.0% of its shots in seven consecutive games and eight times this season. During the current six-game winning streak, the Gauchos have shot 46.9% or better five times and they have made a higher percentage of their shots than all six of their opponents. Finally, in the last six, Santa Barbara has hit 157 of its 325 field goal attempts, 48.3%.

A Right, a Left, a Right, a Left...
Max Heidegger is leading the Big West Conference in scoring at 23.9 points per game while Leland King II is second on the team and third in the conference at 18.6 points per game. As a duo, either Heidegger or King has led UCSB in scoring in all nine games and they have combined for 382 points, a combined average of 42.4 per game. If Heidegger and King averaged 42 points per game as a tandem and the Gauchos play 29 games, they would score approximately 1,218 points, a figure that would exceed the most by two players combined in school history. Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally scored 1,194 in 2010-11.

A One-Two Rebound Punch Too  
Leland King II and Jalen Canty are giving UCSB a potent 1-2 rebounding punch. King (10.0 rpg) and Canty (8.6 rpg) are ranked second and third in the Big West respectively and their combined average of 18.6 is easily the top combined average of any two teammates in the league. Finally, each player has had 10 or more four times this season.