Gauchos Head North Thursday for First-Place Showdown at UC Davis

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

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Upcoming Games
Game No. 24
Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Davis Aggies
at UCD's Pavilion  - Davis, Calif.
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Game No. 25
Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Long Beach State 49ers

at LBSU's Walter Pyramid  - Long Beach, Calif.
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The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter Thursday's game at UC Davis with an 18-5 overall record and a 7-2 mark in Big West Conference play. The Gauchos, who have won six consecutive games, are tied with UC Davis for first-place in the league. The 18-5 start is the program's best since the 1988-89 season when it also began the year with an 18-5 record. The 7-2 record in league matches the best start since 2013-14.

UCSB-CSUN Game Moved to 5:00 p.m.
UCSB's Feb. 24 game at Cal State Northridge has been switched from a 7:00 p.m. tip-off to a 5:00 p.m. tip-off to accommodate the Big West Conference's ESPN3 package. The game against the Matadors will be the sixth time that a Gaucho game will be carried by one of the league's broadcast partners.  

2017-18 is Triple the Fun 
A mere 23 games into the 2017-18 season, UCSB's win total of 18 is 12 more than last season and triple the six-win total that the team posted in 2016-17. In addition, with seven wins in Big West play, the Gauchos have surpassed their conference win total of a year ago by three with seven conference games 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. 

King Named Big West Player of the Week 
Leland King II was named Big West Player of the Week on Monday after leading UCSB to wins over Hawai'i and CSUN last week. In the win 84-82 overtime win against Hawai'i, King scored 21 points on 9-of-14 from the field. He also added six rebounds, two assists and two steals. He scored six of his points in the decisive OT. On Saturday, King had his 11th double-double of the year as he tied his season-high with 25 points and set a new career-high with 17 rebounds. He tallied nine of his points during a 19-1 second half run that put the game away for the Gauchos. In all, King averaged 23.0 points and 11.5 rebounds while shooting 59.4% overall and 50.0% from three-point range.

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 18 in 23 games this year, a 12-win improvement. The only other school that has improved by as many as 11 wins to this point is North Carolina A&T, which won three games last year and is currently sitting at 14-9. 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 .782, a leap of .568. North Carolina A&T has improved from 3-29, a winning percentage of .093, to 14-9, a percentage of .591 and an improvement of .516. 

UCSB Now No. 12 in Mid-Major Poll
UCSB has climbed to No. 12 in the latest Mid-Major Poll. The Gauchos moved up three spots this week after the road wins over Hawai'i and Cal State Northridge. 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.  

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 18-5 record  through 22 games is three games better than the 15-8 mark that Art Gallon's Gaucho team posted in 1957-58.

Big Second Half Leads Gauchos Past CSUN, 75-51
UCSB used big in the second half to blow open a close game and roll to its sixth consecutive win, 75-51 on Feb.3 over visiting CSUN. Leland King II had 25 points and 17 rebounds, while Max Heidegger added 14, Marcus Jackson 12 and Ami Lakoju 10 in the win. Leading 49-43 with 10:42 to play, the Gauchos went on a 19-1 spree over the next 7:04 to make it a 68-44 game and that was all she wrote. King scored nine of his 25 points during the run, which ended on consecutive three-pointers by King, Heidegger and Jackson. UCSB outrebounded CSUN 49-32 in the game and limited the Matadors to 32.8% shooting from the field.

UCSB's Probable Starters
1 Leland King II -Tied season-high with 25 points and set career-high with 17 rebounds vs. CSUN.
2 Gabe Vincent  - Has 223 3-pointers and 1,294 points, ranking 2nd and 14th respectively in school history.
14 Ami Lakoju - Made his first start of season vs. CSUN and responded with 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 BS.
21 Max Heidegger - Made 4 3-pointers vs. CSUN and now has 72 on the year, tied for 9th all-time.
55 Marcus Jackson - Had 12 points, 4 assists and tied his season-high with 6 rebounds in win over CSUN.

UCSB's Probable Reserves
0 Jarriesse Blackmon - Scored a season-high 8 points while also adding 6 rebounds and 2 blocks vs. CSUN.|
5 Jalen Canty - Suspended for Feb. 3 game vs. CSUN and his status for Feb. 8 at Davis is undetermined.
10 Maxwell Kupchak - Played 5 minutes vs. CSUN, 3 more than 7 previous games combined.
11 Brandon Davis - Had 2 assists and no turnovers in 6 minutes vs. CSUN, equaling his longest stint in league.
12 Alex Hart - Played 6 minutes vs. CSUN, 1 more than previous 6 games combined.
13 Sam Walters - Played 2 minutes vs. CSUN after 4 consecutive DNPs.
23 Christian Terrell - Set a career-high with 6 assists and had no turnovers in the win over CSUN.
43 J.D. Slajchert - After 8 DNPs, played 1 minute in the win over CSUN.

The Opponents
UCSB and UC Davis have played 36 times in a series that began in 1939. The Gauchos hold an all-time lead of 28-8, but the Aggies won both of the games between the schools last season. Davis won 73-47 on its home court and 67-64 in Santa Barbara. Prior to last season, UCSB had won four straight games against the Aggies. The Gauchos have played Long Beach State 124 times, more than they have played any opponent. The 49ers hold a 66-58 all-time advantage and they have won four straight.

UCSB Away From Home 
The Gauchos are 7-5 away from home and 6-5 in true road games. They have won their last two league road games and are now 1-2 on the road in Big West Conference games with both losses coming by one point.

Gauchos Home Streak is Longest in a While
UCSB has opened the 2017-18 season with a perfect 11-0 record at the Thunderdome. This marks the first time that the Gauchos have ever gone 11-0 at home to start a season. The previous record of 10-0 was set during the 1988-89 season. Dating back to last year, Santa Barbara has won 12 consecutive games at the Thunderdome, the program's longest streak of consecutive home wins since a 15-game stretch that spanned the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons. 

The Gauchos enter Thursday's game at UC Davis with a six-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 1940-41 season that UCSB has won six or more consecutive games twice in a season. In 1940-41, one of the streaks included two wins over the Broadway Clowns, so it's safe to say that this marks the first time in UCSB's NCAA era that it has two six-game winning streaks.  

On the Margins
UCSB is 7-2 in Big West Conference games, but that doesn't tell the entire story. The Gauchos have posted wins over CSUN (75-51), 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 11.0 points. Their losses have come at Cal Poly and Hawai'i 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 dropped a tough 77-76 game to the Rainbow Warriors.

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 77.5 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 14 games and 15 times in 23 games, and 70 or more 18 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. 

On the Rebound
UCSB's current rebound margin of +4.0 is at its highest point since it was +5.0 through three games. In nine Big West Conference games, the margin is +4.7 and in the last 12 games, the Gauchos have outrebounded their opponents by a total of 100 rebounds, an average margin of +8.5

20-20-20 Vision
Max Heidegger scored 25 points in the Feb. 1 OT win over Hawai'i. He was one of three UCSB players to score 20+ in the game. 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. 

A Shooting Turnaround 
UCSB is currently shooting 46.8% from the field overall, second in the Big West and 80th nationally, and 37.8% from three-point range, first in the conference and 67th 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.