UCSB Looks to Avenge Earlier Loss, Hosts Hawai'i Thursday in Thunderdome

Gabe Vincent (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Gabe Vincent (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

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Upcoming Games
Game No. 22
Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Univ. of Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors

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

Game No. 23
Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. CSUN Matadors

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

The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter Thursday's game against Hawai'i with a 16-5 overall record and a 5-2 mark in Big West Conference play. The Gauchos have won four consecutive games, including two straight on the road, their first two conference road victories of the season. They are tied with UC Davis for second place in the league, one-half game behind Long Beach State, which stands at 6-2. The 16-5 start is the program's best since the 2007-08 season when it also began the year with a 16-5 record. That team ultimately went 17-5 and set a school record with 23 wins. 

2017-18 is Officially More Than Double the Fun 
A mere 21 games into the 2017-18 season, UCSB's win total of 16 is 10 more than last season. In addition, with five wins in Big West play, the Gauchos have surpassed their conference win total of a year ago by one less than half way through the league schedule. Last year UCSB battled through eligibility and injury issues and struggled to a 6-22 overall record and 4-12 mark in the Big West. The 22 losses were the most in the history of the program. 

UCSB Turnaround is Tops in Nation
UCSB's improvement from 2016-17 to 2017-18 is astounding and it is the most impressive in the nation. The Gauchos' victory total has jumped from six in 28 games last season to 16 in 21 games, this year, a 10-win improvement. The only other school that has improved by 10 wins to this point is North Carolina A&T, which won three games last year and is currently sitting at 13-8. UCSB's leap in winning percentage is just as impressive. Last season, Santa Barbara posted a winning percentage of .214 while this year it has a mark of .762, a leap of .548. North Carolina A&T has improved from 3-29, a winning percentage of .093, to 13-9, a percentage of .591 and an improvement of .498. 

Pasternack Off to Best Coaching Start in UCSB History
Joe Pasternack is off to the best start of any first-year head coach in UCSB history. Pastrnack's 16-5 record  through 21 games is three games better than the 13-8 mark that Art Gallon's Gaucho team posted in 1957-58.

UCSB Now No. 15 in Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Poll
UCSB enters the week ranked 15th in the latest Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Poll. The Gauchos moved up two spots this week after the road wins at Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside. They are the only Big West Conference school in the top-25. West Coast Conference members St. Mary's and Gonzaga are ranked 1-2 respectively.  

Gauchos Battle Past UC Riverside, 76-69
Jalen Canty scored 20 points while Gabe Vincent and Christian Terrell added 18 and 13 respectively to lead UCSB to a 76-69 win at UC Riverside on Jan. 27. On a night when Max Heidegger and Leland King II, their top two scorers, combined to make just 3-of-20 shots from the field, the Gauchos were able to lead from start-to-finish against the Highlanders. UCSB opened up a 15-point lead on two occasions in the first half, but UCR rallied back to within 51-47 with 12:42 left in the game. Back-to-back baskets by Terrell, the second on a steal and breakaway slam dunk, pushed the lead back to eight. Then, after a three-pointer by the Highlanders' Brandon Rosser cut the gap to five, Vincent made a three-pointer and Canty scored on a lay-up to make it a 60-50 game. Riverside would creep back within five one more time, at 60-55, but another three by Vincent put an end to the threat. Vincent finished with a season-best four three-point baskets on five attempts. For Terrell, the 13 points were a career-high and he was 6-of-7 from the field, his best shooting game ever. While King struggled with his shooting and finished with six points, he also added 12 rebounds. Both the Gauchos and UCR made 26-of-59 shots from the field, 44.1%, and UCSB committed just six turnovers.

UCSB's Probable Starters
1 Leland King II  - Scored season-low 6 points on Jan. 27 at UCR, but added 12 rebounds.
2 Gabe Vincent  - Made 4 3-point baskets on Jan. 27 at UCR and now has 221, tied for 2nd all-time.
5 Jalen Canty - Scored 20 points in 2 of last 3 games and is averaging 17.9 per game over that span.
21 Max Heidegger - Battled early foul trouble at UCR and finished with season-low 8 points.
5 Marcus Jackson - Has 10 assists and just 1 turnover in the last 2 games combined.

UCSB's Probable Reserves
0 Jarriesse Blackmon - Has collected 3 rebounds in 4 of the last 5 games, all since returning from concussion.
10 Maxwell Kupchak - DNP in each of the last 3 games...Logged 1 minute at was scoreless on Jan. 17 vs. CSUF. 
11 Brandon Davis - Played 3 minutes at UCR, but has totaled just 11 minutes in the last 5 games.
12 Alex Hart - Has played in just 4 of the last 9 games and was a DNP in the last 2.
13 Sam Walters - Was a DNP in last 3 games...Had a career-high 24 minutes vs. Pacific Union.
14 Ami Lakoju - Scored 8 points in 13 total minutes in last 2 games, making 4-of-5 field goal attempts.
23 Christian Terrell - Had career-bests of 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting at UCR.
43 J.D. Slajchert - DNP in last 7 games...Played season-high 10 minutes on Dec. 30 vs. Pacific Union.

The Opponents
UCSB and Hawai'i have played 20 times with the UH holding an 11-9 advantage. The teams met in Honolulu on Jan. 13 with the Warriors winning 77-76. The Gauchos won last year at the Thunderdome, 56-54. UCSB and Cal State Northridge have played 54 times since 1959 with the Gauchos holding a 35-19 all-time edge. Last season, the Matadors swept the series, winning 77-55 in the San Fernando Valley and 78-57 in Santa Barbara. Prior to last year, UCSB had won three straight against CSUN.

The Gauchos at the Thunderdome
UCSB has opened the regular season with an 9-0 record at the Thunderdome. Dating back to last year, the Gauchos have won 10 straight and 11 of 12 at home. In two seasons prior to this year, UCSB was just 5-8 and 6-5 at home respectively, a combined 11-13. 

Gauchos Home Streak is Longest in a While
UCSB has opened the 2017-18 season with a perfect 9-0 record at the Thunderdome. This marks the first time that the Gauchos have gone 9-0 at home to start a season since they went 10-0 to begin the 1989-90 home schedule, their best start in school history. Dating back to last season, Santa Barbara has won 10 consecutive games at the home, the program's longest run since the 10-game streak to open the 1989-90 season. 

A Variety of Weapons
The Gauchos defeated UC Riverside on Jan. 27, 76-69. Impressively, they were able to do so with their top two scorers, Max Heidegger (eight) and Leland King II (six), combining to total just 14 points on 3-of-20 shooting from the field, 15.0%. It marked the first time this season that Heidegger scored fewer than 13 points and just the second time that King was in single digits. Picking up the slack were Jalen Canty (20), Gabe Vincent (18) and Christian Terrell (a career-high 13).

On the Margins
UCSB is 5-2 in Big West Conference games, but that doesn't tell the entire story. The Gauchos have posted wins over UC Riverside (65-57 and 76-69), Cal State Fullerton (83-64 and 70-65) and UC Irvine (70-58) by an average margin of 10.2 points. Their losses have come at Cal Poly and Hawai'i and they have been by a combined two points, an average of 1.0 per game. Santa Barbara lost a heartbreaker in its league opener at Cal Poly, 80-79 after leading 79-77 with one second to play. Then on Jan. 13, UCSB survived a ballistic missile scare in the morning only to lose a tough 77-76 game to the Rainbow Warriors later that night. 

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 77.3 points per game, a figure that would be the program's highest since it averaged 78.0 per game in 1974-75 and its seventh highest in program history. Last season, the Gauchos scored a season-high 76 points twice and 70 or more just five times. This year, they have scored 76 or more in nine of the last 12 games and 14 times in 21 games, and 70 or more 16 times. UCSB has also scored 80 points or more nine times and 90 or more twice. The last time the team scored 80 or more in more games was in 2011-12 when it did so 10 times. 

A Turn for the Better
UCSB had just six turnovers in its Jan. 27 win at UC Riverside, the fifth time in seven Big West games that it has had fewer than 10 turnovers. On the season, the Gauchos are now averaging just 10.8 turnovers per game and they have had fewer than 10 on 10 occasions. They had a season-low five in a Dec. 23 win at Sacramento State and they had six in wins over North Dakota State and Pepperdine, in addition to UC Riverside. Finally, in seven conference games, UCSB has just 65 turnovers, 9.3 per game.  

Double-Digit Delights
It is no accident that the Gauchos have emerged as a good rebounding team and leading the way have been Leland King II, the Big West's leading rebounder at 10.5 per game, and Jalen Canty, who is third at 7.7 per game. In the win at UC Riverside, King posted his 12th game with 10 or more rebounds, 10 of which have been double-doubles. Canty, meanwhile, has six double-doubles and seven games with 10 or more boards.  

A Shooting Turnaround 
UCSB is currently shooting 46.6% from the field overall, third in the Big West and 80th nationally, and 38.0% from three-point range, first in the conference and 54th nationally. The Gauchos' shooting is a far cry from a season ago when they made 37.7% of their field goals, 350th out of 351 schools (including reclassifying schools), and 29.0% of their three-pointers, 348th in the nation.