UCSB Looks to Close 2017 Strong, Travels to Sac State, Host Pacific Union

Christian Terrell (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Christian Terrell (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

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Upcoming Games
Game No. 13
Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 at 7:05 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Sacramento State Hornets

at Sac State's Nest - Sacramento, Calif.
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
Video: WatchBigSky.com
Live Stats

Game No. 14
Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Pacific Union Pioneers

at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: BigWest.tv
Live Stats

This Week
UCSB will play at Sacramento State on Saturday evening. It will mark the Gauchos' final road game of 2017 and of the 2017-18 non-conference schedule. It is also the penultimate game of the year and the non-league portion of the slate. They will host Pacific Union on Dec. 30 before opening league play after the new year.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter Saturday's game at Sacramento State with a 9-3 record.  The 9-3 start is the program's best since the 2007-08 season when it began the year with a 10-2 record through 12 games. That team ultimately set a school record with 23 wins. In 2016-17, the Gauchos were 2-10 through their first 12 games.

Jan. 6 UCSB-UCR Game Moved to 9:00 p.m. for ESPNU
The UCSB-UC Riverside game scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 6 at 7:00 p.m. has been moved to 9:00 p.m. to accommodate an ESPNU broadcast. The game between the Gauchos and Highlanders will be the first televised from the Thunderdome since the 2015-16 campaign. Two other games, Jan. 20 vs. UC Irvine and Feb. 24 at Cal State Northridge, are also Big West Wild Card games and could also be chosen for broadcast by one of ESPN family of networks.

UCSB Resumes Its Roll 
After having its seven-game winning streak ended on Dec. 17 at USC, UCSB resumed its winning ways with an 87-69 victory over San Diego Christian. After opening the season at 1-2, with road losses at Pittsburgh and Texas A&M, the Gauchos won seven consecutive games, their longest winning streak since they won nine in a row near the end of the 2015-16 season. 

Pasternack Off to Best Coaching Start Ever
Joe Pasternack is off to the best start of any first-year head coach in UCSB history. Pastrnack's 9-3 record is three games better than the 6-6 mark that Ralph Barkey and Art Gallon posted in 1966-67 and 1957-58 respectively.

UCSB Now at No. 22 in Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Poll
After debuting at No. 21 in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Poll, UCSB is now ranked No. 22. The Gauchos, who were one spot behind UC Davis in the previous poll, have moved ahead of the Aggies, who are now ranked No. 24. A trio of West Coast Conference schools – Gonzaga, St. Mary's and BYU –are ranked 1-2-3 in the latest poll. Santa Barbara is the next highest ranked west coast school, followed by UC Davis and Portland State, which checks in at No. 25. Hawai'i, another Big West school, is also receiving votes.

Gauchos Run Past San Diego Christian, 87-69
Max Heidegger scored 19 points, all in the first half, to lead UCSB past San Diego Christian on Tuesday, 87-69. The Gauchos made 12 of their first 13 field goal attempts and piled-up an 81-46 lead before coasting to the 18-point victory. Jalen Canty and Ami Lakoju each scored 12 points and combined to make 10-of-13 field goal attempts. For Lakoju, the 12 points tied a career-high. Leland King II played just 18 minutes scoring 11 points and collecting a game-high seven rebounds. UCSB shot a season-best 57.6% from the field overall and also made 8-of-17 three-point attempts, 47.1%. The Gauchos also had a season-best +24 rebound margin in the victory and eight different players had at least four rebounds. SDCC, which finished the game on a 23-6 run to narrow a 35-point margin to 18, made 12-of-24 three-point field goal attempts, 50.0%. The 12 three-point baskets were the second most by a Santa Barbara opponent this season.

The Opponents
UCSB and Sacramento State have met just four times in a series that began in 1953. The Gauchos hold a 3-1 all-time edge, but the Hornets won the last meeting between the schools, 51-50 at the Thunderdome on Feb. 23, 2013. That game was part of the now, thankfully, deceased Bracket Busters fiasco. The meeting between UCSB and Pacific Union will the a first.

UCSB Away From Home 
The Gauchos had their four-game away-from-home winning streak ended at USC on Dec. 19 and are now 4-3 away from home and 3-3 in true road games. UCSB's four-game streak came on the road at Pepperdine, San Francisco and Montana State, and a neutral site victory over Montana. In addition to USC, the defeats have come at Pittsburgh and Texas A&M.

The Gauchos at the Thunderdome
UCSB has opened the regular season with a 5-0 record at the Thunderdome. Dating back to last year, the Gauchos have won six straight and seven of eight at home.  In two season prior to this year, UCSB was just 5-8 and 6-5 at home respectively, a combined 11-13.

UCSB Statistically in the Big West Conference
Category                 Stat            Rank
Scoring                   78.4 ppg     1st
Scoring Defense       73.2 ppg    6th
Scoring Margin        +5.2           2nd
FG%                       48.2%        1st
FT%                        67.6%        6th
3-FG%                    39.7%        2nd
FG% Defense           43.8%        6th
3-FG% Defense        34.6%        5th
3-Pt. Field Goals        8.2 pg       2nd
Reb. Margin             +1.4 pg      4th
Blocked Shots           4.2 bpg      2nd
Assists                     15.2 apg     1st
Steals                      4.6 spg       8th
Turnover Margin       +0.7 pg      2nd
Assist:TO Ratio          1.3            1st

Making Their Points
One season removed from averaging 60.8 points per game overall and 57.1 per game in Big West Conference play, UCSB is leading the league in scoring with an average of 78.4 points per game. The Gauchos have scored 91, 87 and 87 points in the last three games, a total of 265 and an average of 88.3 per game. Through three games this year, they were averaging 70.7 points per game, but in the last nine contests, they have scored an average of 81.0 points per game. Last season, Santa Barbara scored a season-high 76 points twice, in losses to Seattle and Long Beach State. This year, the Gauchos have eclipsed 76 points eight times, 80 points six times and 90 points twice. The last time the team scored 80 or more in three straight games was in 2015-16. The last time a UCSB team scored 90 points or more twice in season was in 2014-15.

Playing the Percentages
A primary reason that scoring is up for UCSB this season is field goal percentage. Well duh. As a team, the Gauchos are shooting 48.2% from the field, tops in the Big West Conference, and since starting the year by shooting 41.3% through the first three games, they have gone 260-for-514, 50.6%. In the last three games, Santa Barbara has made 103-of-189 field goal attempts, 54.5%. The school record for field goal percentage in a season is 50.9% set in 1978-79. The current 48.2% would rank this Gaucho team in a tie for ninth all-time.

The Fab Four
UCSB enters Saturday's game at Sacramento State with four players averaging in double-figures. Guard Max Heidegger leads the team at 22.5 points per game and he is followed, in order, by Leland King II (18.2 ppg), Jalen Canty (11.4 ppg) and Gabe Vincent (11.2 ppg). The Gauchos have had five players score in double-figures in the same game twice this season, on Nov. 28 at San Francisco and Nov. 20 at Pepperdine. Last season, UCSB had five players score in double-figures in the same game just once, an 80-76 loss to Seattle University. 

A Right, a Left, a Right, a Left...
Max Heidegger is leading the Big West Conference in scoring at 22.5 points per game while Leland King II is second on the team and third in the conference at 18.2 points per game. As a duo, either Heidegger or King has led UCSB in scoring in all 12 games and they have combined for 488 points, an average of 40.7 per game. In fact, they are the sixth highest scoring tandem in the country. If Heidegger and King average a combined 40.7 points per game and the Gauchos play 31 games, which would mean just one in the Big West Tournament, they would score approximately 1,260 points, a figure that would exceed the most by a one-two punch in school history. Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally scored 1,194 in 2010-11.

Bench Shows Signs of Life
While four of the five starters are averaging double-figures, UCSB is still searching for some punch off the bench. Gaucho starters, including Christian Terrell's four starts in place of the an injured Marcus Jackson, have scored 829 of the team's 941 total points, 88.1%. That being said, the reserves scored their season-high with 35 points in the team's win over San Diego Christian and they had 17 in the Dec. 17 loss at USC. The combined 52 points in the last two games are just six fewer than the bench scored in the first 10 games. Ami Lakoju has been a key factor in the emergence of the reserves. He tied his career-high with 12 in the game against San Diego Christian and he has 24 in the last three games, 8.0 per game.