First-Place UCSB Hosts CSUN in Search of 11-0 Home Record to Open Year

Max Heidegger (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Max Heidegger (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

Upcoming Games
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.
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The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter Saturday's game against CSUN with a 17-5 overall record and a 6-2 mark in Big West Conference play. The Gauchos, who have won five consecutive games, are tied with UC Davis for first-place in the league. Both teams are a half-game ahead of Long Beach State.  The 17-5 start is the program's best since the 2007-08 season when it also began the year with a 17-5 record. That team lost its 23rd game to go 17-6, but finished the season with a school-record 23 wins. The last UCSB team to go 18-5 to open a season was the 1988-89 squad. 

2017-18 is Nearly Triple the Fun 
A mere 22 games into the 2017-18 season, UCSB's win total of 17 is 11 more than last season and nearly triple the six-win total that the team posted in 2016-17. In addition, with six wins in Big West play, the Gauchos have surpassed their conference win total of a year ago by two with half the conference schedule yet to be played. 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 is the most impressive in the nation. The Gauchos' victory total has jumped from six in 28 games last season to 17 in 22 games this year, an 11-win improvement. The only other school that has improved by as many10 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 .773, a leap of .559. 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 17-5 record  through 22 games is three games better than the 14-8 mark that Art Gallon's Gaucho team posted in 1957-58.

UCSB Now No. 15 in Mid-Major Poll
UCSB entered the week ranked 15th in the latest 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 Top Hawai'i in OT Thriller, 84-82
UCSB had three players score 20 or more points and Marcus Jackson had a pivotal blocked shot to end the game as the Gauchos defeated the University of Hawai'i in overtime on Thursday, 84-82. Max Heidegger had 25 points, while Jalen Canty and Leland King II each scored 21 in the win. Santa Barbara had a nine-point lead in the second half, but UH battled back. In the last 3:47 of regulation, there were seven lead changes and a pair of ties. The final tie was when Brocke Stepteau hit a three-pointer to make it a 70-70 game with seven seconds left, sending it into the OT. Mike Thomas, who finished with a game-high 27, scored the first basket to open the overtime, but Heidegger and King responded with three-pointers to give UCSB a 76-72 lead. The lead was still 83-79 when Jack Purchase made a three with 15 seconds to play, cutting the gap to 83-82. After King made 1-of-2 free throws to make it a two-point game, UH had one final chance to tie the score, but a running floater by Stepteau was blocked by Jackson and Canty came down with the rebound as time ran out. Canty finished with 10 rebounds for a double-double.

UCSB's Probable Starters
1 Leland King II - One game after scoring a season-low 6 points, scored 21 in win over UH.
2 Gabe Vincent  - Has 222 career 3-pointers, 2nd in UCSB history...6 assists vs. UH were his BWC high.
5 Jalen Canty - Tied career-high with 21 points vs. UH and added 10 boards for his 7th double-double.
21 Max Heidegger - Bounced back from season-low 8-point game at UCR to score 25 vs. Hawai'i on Feb. 1.
55 Marcus Jackson - Had UCSB-best 2 blocked shots vs. UH, the 2nd ended the game in OT.

UCSB's Probable Reserves
0 Jarriesse Blackmon - Played 14 minutes vs. UH on Thursday, his highest total since Nov. 17 at Texas A&M.
10 Maxwell Kupchak - DNP in each of the last 4 games...Logged 1 minute, was scoreless on Jan. 17 vs. CSUF. 
11 Brandon Davis - Was a DNP vs. UH, his third in the last 6 games.
12 Alex Hart - Has played in just 4 of the last 10 games and was a DNP in the last 3.
13 Sam Walters - Was a DNP in last 4 games...Had a career-high 24 minutes vs. Pacific Union.
14 Ami Lakoju - Has made 5-of-6 field goal attempts in the last 3 games.
23 Christian Terrell - Had 2 points, 5 rebounds vs. UH...Scored career-high 13 on Jan. 27 at UCR.
43 J.D. Slajchert - DNP in last 8 games...Played season-high 10 minutes on Dec. 30 vs. Pacific Union.

The Opponents
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.

Gauchos Home Streak is Longest in a While
UCSB has opened the 2017-18 season with a perfect 10-0 record at the Thunderdome. This marks the first time that the Gauchos have gone 10-0 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 11 consecutive games at the home, the program's longest run since a 15-game streak that spanned the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons. 

• Streaking
The Gauchos enter Saturday's game against CSUN with a five-game winning streak. Earlier in the season, they put together a seven-game winning streak, the program's longest since the 2015-16 season when it won nine in a row. This marks the first time since the 1989-90 season that UCSB has won five or more consecutive games twice in a season. In all, the program has put together two streaks of five or more wins nine times, but only four times since the beginning of the 1970-71 season.  

20-20-20 Vision
Max Heidegger scored 25 points to lead the Gauchos in Thursday's overtime win over Hawai'i. He paced a trio of 20+ point scorers. Jalen Canty and Leland King II each added 21 points, giving UCSB three 20+ point scorers in the same game for the first time since Dec. 9, 1989 when Carrick DeHart (26), Eric McArthur (24) and Gary Gray (21) turned the trick in a 104-101 loss at Loyola Marymount. According to the NCAA, there have only been three other instances of three teammates scoring 20 or more in the same game this season. 

On the Margins
UCSB is 6-2 in Big West Conference games, but that doesn't tell the entire story. The Gauchos have posted wins over Hawai'i (84-82), 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 8.8 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. That defeat was avenged on Thursday night in overtime, 84-82.

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 77.6 points per game, a figure that would be the program's highest since it averaged 78.0 per game in 1974-75 and its sixth 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 10 of the last 13 games and 15 times in 21 games, and 70 or more 17 times. UCSB has also scored 80 points or more 10 times and 90 or more twice. The last time the team scored 80 or more in 10 games was in 2011-12. 

A Shooting Turnaround 
UCSB is currently shooting 46.8% from the field overall, tied for first in the Big West and 76th nationally, and 37.7% from three-point range, first in the conference and 71st 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.

Free at Last
UCSB made 16-of-19 free throws in its win over Hawai'i on Thursday, 84.2%. It was the team's third-best mark of the season and they are now shooting a season-best 69.8% from the line overall. In the last three games, the Gauchos are 57-of-72, 79.25, and in eight Big West games they are shooting 74.4%, third in league.