First-Place UCSB Travels to UC Irvine Thursday for Another 1-2 Showdown

Ami Lakoju (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Ami Lakoju (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

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Upcoming Games
Game No. 27
Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Irvine Anteaters
at UCI's Bren Events Center  - Irvine, Calif.
On-Line Audio:
TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket

Game No. 28
Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at CSUN Matadors

at CSUN's Matadome  - Northridge, Calif.
On-Line Audio:
On-Line Video: ESPN3/Watch ESPN

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters Thursday's game at UC Irvine with a 20-6 overall record and a 9-3 mark in Big West Conference play. The Gauchos, who had their eight-game winning streak ended by UC Davis on Feb. 17, are one-half game ahead of the Aggies and UC Irvine for first-place in the conference. The 20-6 start equals the the 1987-88 team's start as the program's best ever and the 9-3 record equals the 1991-92 team for the best 12-game league start ever.

Pair of UCSB Games Moved to Accommodate ESPN3, ESPNU
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 home game against Long Beach State on Thursday, Mar. 1 has been switched from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for ESPNU.  

2017-18 is More Than Triple the Fun 
A mere 26 games into the 2017-18 season, UCSB's win total of 20 is 14 more than last season and more than triple the six-win total that the team posted in 2016-17. In addition, with nine wins in Big West play, the Gauchos have more doubled their league win total of a year ago with four 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. 

UCSB Turnaround is Tops in Nation
UCSB's improvement from 2016-17 to 2017-18 is astounding and it equals the best in the nation. The Gauchos' victory total has jumped from six in 28 games last season to 20 in 26 games this year, a 14-win improvement. North Carolina A&T has also improved by 14 games, going from 3-29 last season to 17-11 thi season. 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 .769, a jump of .555. North Carolina A&T has improved from a winning percentage of .093 to a percentage of .607 and an improvement of .514.  UCSB's 14-game improvement is two short of the Big West's single season record of 16 set in 1982-83 by Utah State and in 2014-15 by UC Davis. Finally, the Gauchos have become just the fourth Big West program to go from a season in with a win total in single-digits to a season with 20 or more wins. The other programs to do so were UC Davis (2013-14 to 2014-15), Utah State (1981-82 to 1982-83) and Fresno State (1976-77 to 1977-78).

Pasternack Most Successful First-Year Coach in UCSB History
Regardless of what happens the remainder of the season, Joe Pasternack will complete the 2017-18 season as the most successful first-year head coach in UCSB history. Prior to this season, Art Gallon's 15-10 record in 1957-58 and Bob Williams' 15-13 mark in 1998-99 were the two best records for a first-year coach. 

UCSB Now No. 14 in Mid-Major Poll
UCSB is currently ranked No. 14 in the latest Mid-Major Poll. The Gauchos had jumped to a season-best No. 11 ranking last week before dropping a game to UC Davis. Gonzaga remains No. 1 in the poll and Davis is now receiving votes. 

Gauchos Home Streak to Open Season Set a New School Standard
Before dropping a 71-54 decision at the Thunerdome to UC Davis on Feb. 17, UCSB had opened the 2017-18 season with a perfect 11-0 record at the home, marking the first time that the Gauchos had ever gone 11-0 at home to start a season. The previous record of 10-0 was set during the 1988-89 season. 

Aggies Exact Their Revenge, Top UCSB, 71-54
On Feb. 8, UCSB ended UC Davis' 19-game home winning streak and nine days later, the Aggies turned the tables with a 71-54 win at the Thunderdome. The loss ended the Gauchos' perfect start to the home season at 11-0 and their overall home winning streak at 12 in a row. T.J. Shorts II made 9-of-10 shots and finished with a game-high 20 points for Davis. The 54 points were a season-low for UCSB, as weas the 33.3% shooting from the field. The Aggies, on the other hand, made 54.9% of their shots, including 60.9% in the second half. Gabe Vincent had 17 points and Max Heidegger added 13 for Santa Barbara.

UCSB's Probable Starters
1 Leland King II - F - Gr. - Has 13 double-doubles on the season, most in the Big West Conference.
2 Gabe Vincent  G - Sr. - With 229 career 3-point baskets, ranks second in UCSB history.
14 Ami Lakoju - F - Jr. - Tied season-high with 8 rebounds vs. UC Davis and is averaging 5.5 in the last 4 games.
21 Max Heidegger - G - So. - 78 3-point baskets are tied for 4th most in school history and needs 10 to break record.
55 Marcus Jackson - G - Gr. - Tied his season-high with 3 3-pointers on Feb. 17 vs. UC Davis.

UCSB's Probable Reserves
0 Jarriesse Blackmon - F - Jr. - Has scored 20 of his 29 points in the last 4 games, 5.0 per game.
5 Jalen Canty - F - Sr. - Has missed the last four games and remains suspended indefinitely.
10 Maxwell Kupchak - F - Jr. - Played in back-to-back games for the first time since the first two games of league play.
11 Brandon Davis - G - Fr. - Attempted a field goal on Feb. 17 vs. UC Davis, his first shot since Jan. 6.
12 Alex Hart - F - Sr. - Played 5 or more minutes in each of the last 4 games after being a DNP in 3 straight.
13 Sam Walters - G - Jr. - Has been a DNP in 7 of the last 8 games.
23 Christian Terrell - G - So. - Produced 3 or more rebounds in 4 of the last 5 games.
43 J.D. Slajchert - F - Jr. - Has 11 DNPs in the last 12 games, having only played on Feb. 3 vs. CSUN.

The Opponents
UCSB and UC Irvine have played 89 times since 1968 with Santa Barbara leading the series 52-37. The Gauchos defeated the Anteaters in Santa Barbara on Jan. 20, 70-58. UCI won both games between the schools last season. UCSB and Cal State Northridge have played 55 times since 1959 with the Gauchos holding a 36-19 all-time edge, including a 75-51 win at the Thunderdome on Feb. 3 Last season, the Matadors swept the series, winning 77-55 in the San Fernando Valley and 78-57 in Santa Barbara. 

UCSB Away From Home 
The Gauchos are 9-5 away from home and 8-5 in true road games. Since opening their Big West road schedule with a pair of road defeats, they have won four consecutive games.

Vincent Scales the Lists
UCSB senior guard Gabe Vincent is climbing several career statistical lists. In Saturday's game against UC Davis he made two three-point baskets to give him 229 in his career, second on the school's all-time list. Michael Bryson holds the record with 241. With 17 points in against the Aggies, Vincent now has 1,348 points, 14th all-time, and he needs four points to move into 13th-place. He also ranks second all-time in three-point attempts (609) and 10th in field goal attempts (1,144).  

Heidegger Zeroes in on Three-Point Record
Sophomore Max Heidegger enters Thursday's game at UC Irvine with 78 three-point baskets in 182 attempts, 42.9%. The 78 three-point baskets are tied with Mark Hull and Kyle Boswell for the fourth most in school history. Heidegger's should soon pass James Powell (79) and Gabe Vincent (80) to move into second on the all-time list. He also needs 10 more to move past Brian Johnson (87) and become the school's all-time single-season leader. Johnson's record is one of UCSB's longest standing single-season record as he hit his 87 threes in 1986-87. 

The Gauchos had their eight-game winning streak ended on Feb. 17 by UC Davis. The eight-game winning streak was the program's longest since the 2015-16 season when it won nine consecutive games. In November and December of this season, UCSB put together a seven-game winning streak and that one, coupled with the recently ended eight-game streak, give the program two winning streaks of at least seven games in the same season for the first time in school history 

Making Their Points
UCSB scored a season-low 54 points in its Feb. 17 loss to UC Davis Despite that, jut one season removed from averaging 60.8 points per game overall and 57.1 per game in Big West Conference play, the Gauchos are leading the league in scoring with an average of 77.2 points per game, a figure that would be the program's highest since it averaged 78.0 per game in 1974-75. The current average would be the sixth highest in school history. Last season, UCSB scored a season-high 76 points twice and 70 or more just five times. This year, it has scored 76 or more in 17 times in 26 games, and 70 or more 20 times. UCSB has also scored 80 points or more 12 times and 90 or more three times. The last time the team scored 80-plus points in 12 games was in 1975-76. 

General Assistance
Marcus Jackson leads UCSB in assists with an average of 4.1 per game, but the Gauchos have had seven different players lead or tie for the team-lead in assists this season, In fact, a different player (Christian Terrell, Max Heidegger, Leland King II and Gabe Vincent) has led the team in assists in each of the last four games. 

As the World Turns...Over 
UCSB had just eight turnovers in its Feb. 17 game against UC Davis. It marked the second straight game and the 12th overall in which the Gauchos had fewer than 10 turnovers. Overall, they are averaging 10.6 turnovers per game, the 14th fewest in the nation. Additionally, their 276 total turnovers ranks as the eighth fewest among all 351 NCAA Division I programs.

20-20-20 Vision
On Feb. 1, in an 84-82 over time win against Hawai'i, the Gauchos had three players score 20 or more points. Max Heidegger (25), Leland King II (21) and Jalen Canty (21) each scored 20+ to become the first UCSB trio to do so 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.