No. 2 Gauchos Return to Big West Tournament Semifinals for 15th Time, Play No. 3 UC Irvine

Ami Lakoju (left) and Max Heidegger (right) were instrumental in UCSB's won over Cal Poly in the first round of the Big West Tournament on Thursday night. The Gauchos will play UC Irvine in a Big West Tournament semifinal game Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. at Honda Center in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Brown)
Ami Lakoju (left) and Max Heidegger (right) were instrumental in UCSB's won over Cal Poly in the first round of the Big West Tournament on Thursday night. The Gauchos will play UC Irvine in a Big West Tournament semifinal game Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. at Honda Center in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Brown)

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Tonight's Game
Game No. 32
Friday, Mar. 9, 2018 at 9:00 p.m.
Big West Conference Tournament Semifinal
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Irvine Anteaters
at Honda Center  - Anaheim, Calif.
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
TV: ESPNU
On-Line Video: ESPN3/Watch ESPN

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters its Big West Tournament semifinal game against UC Irvine with a 23-8 overall record. The Gauchos finished the regular season with a Big West Conference record of 11-5 and while they were tied with UC Irvine in the league standings, they earned the No. 2 seed by virtue of a tiebreaker.  

What a Difference a Year Makes: Gauchos Equal School Record for Wins
UCSB's 23 wins equals the program record for most victories in a single-season. The Gauchos also reached 23 wins during the 2007-08 season. This marks the 13th time in school history that they have won 20 or more games in a season and the first since 2013-14. UCSB has tied its school record for wins just one season removed from setting a school record with 22 losses. Interestingly, the 2007-08 Santa Barbara team that also won 23 contests entered the Big West Tournament as the No. 1 seed and was upset by No. 8 UC Irvine in the first round.

UCSB in the Big West Tournament Semifinals
The Gauchos will be making their 15th appearance in a Big West Conference Tournament Semifinal. The last time they advanced was in 2016 when they lost an 88-76 decision to Hawai'i, the eventual champion. UCSB has won its semifinal game and advanced to the tournament championship game four times. The program's first semifinal win was in 2002 when it defeated UC Irvine, the only win over the Anteaters in Big West Tournament play. The Gauchos also won their semifinal games in 2010 (UC Davis), 2011 (CSUN) and 2012 (Cal Poly). The 2002, 2010 and 2011 teams ultimately won the league title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

2017-18 Win Total Improvement Breaks Big West Record
As they enter the Big West Tournament Semifinal, the Gauchos' win total of 23 is 17 more than the six they posted in 2016-17 when they went 6-22 overall. This season's 17-win increase breaks the Big West's previous record for improvement from one season to the next of 16 wins, originally set in 1982-83 by Utah State and equaled in 2014-15 by UC Davis. UCSB has also become just the fourth Big West program to go from a season with a win total in single-digits to a season with 20 or more wins one year later. 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).

UCSB Turnaround is Tops in Nation
UCSB's improvement from 2016-17 to 2017-18 is astounding and it is also the best in the nation. The Gauchos' victory total has jumped from six last season to 23 this year, a 17-win improvement. North Carolina A&T has the second biggest improvement in the nation having gone from 3-29 last season to 19-13 this season, a jump of 16 victories. 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 .742, a jump of .528. North Carolina A&T has improved from a winning percentage of .093 to a percentage of .594 and an improvement of .501. 

Pasternack is the Most Successful First-Year Coach in UCSB History
At 23-8, regardless of what happens the remainder of the season, Joe Pasternack will be 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 UCSB coach. 

UCSB Trio Earns All-Big West Honors
Max Heidegger and Leland King II were named First Team All-Big West, and Gabe Vincent earned second team honors, it was announced earlier this week. Heidegger enters the Big West Tournament Semifinal averaging 19.2 points per game and leading the league in three-point baskets with 93. King is averaging 15.7 points and a league-leading 10.4 rebounds per game. He is the only player in the conference averaging a double-double and he has 15 on the season. Vincent bounced back from reconstructive knee surgery in February of 2017 to have an outstanding senior campaign. He is averaging 12.5 points and 3.4 assists per game. He also leads the Big West and is ranked 15th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.9-to-1.

The Gauchos and Anteaters
UCSB and UC Irvine have played 90 times in a series that began in 1968. The Gauchos hold an all-time advantage of 52-38. The teams split a pair of games this season with each winning on its home floor. On Jan. 20, UCSB won 70-58 at the Thunderdome and UCI returned the favor on Feb. 22 with a 69-49 win at the Bren Events Center. The teams have played six Big West Tournament games with the Anteaters holding a 5-1 advantage. The last time they met in the tourney was in 2015 when Irvine won a semifinal game in overtime, 72-63.

Vincent Sets Three-Point Record, Moves Into Top-10 in Scoring
UCSB senior guard Gabe Vincent made two three-point baskets in the Gauchos' game against Cal Poly in the first round of the Big West Tournament on Thursday night to give him 242 in his career, one more than Michael Bryson's previous record of 241. With 12 points against the Mustangs, Vincent has 1,430 in his career and has moved into 10th all-time. He needs just five points to pass Doug Rex for ninth-place on the school's career list. He also ranks second all-time in three-point attempts (641)and seventh in field goal attempts (1,207). Finally, Vincent enters Friday's game with 116 career steals, tied for seventh on the career list. 

Heidegger Adds to Single-Season Three-Point Standard
Sophomore Max Heidegger made 3-of-8 three-point attempts in Thursday night's win over Cal Poly and, in the process extended his own UCSB record for three-point baskets in a season with 93 and three-point attempts in a season with 227. In the Mar. 3 regular season finale against Cal Poly, Heidegger broke the school record for threes previously held by Brian Johnson. Johnson made 87 three-point baskets during the 1986-87 season and his record was one of the longest standing single-season records. The previous record for three-point attempts was Gabe Vincent's 208 in 2015-16. 

Heidegger Also Creeps Up Scoring List
Max Heidegger has not only set a new UCSB record for three-point baskets in a season, but he is also climbing the single-season scoring list. He enters the Big West Tournament Semifinal with 594 points, the eighth most in school history and most ever by a sophomore. He needs three points to move into seventh and six to become just the fifth different Gaucho to score 600 points in a season, joining Orlando Johnson and Alex Harris, who each scored 600 or more twice, as well as Raymond Tutt and Lucius Davis. Also, Heidegger's scoring average of 19.2 points per game, if it were to stand, would rank as the 10th highest in school history. 

UCSB Breaks School's Single-Season Points Record
Just one season removed from averaging 60.8 points per game overall and 57.1 per game in Big West Conference play, the Gauchos have scored 2,367 points, the most in school history. With 75 points on Thursday night, they broke the previous school record of 2,335 set in 2015-16. In addition, UCSB is leading the league with an average of 76.4 points per game, a figure that would be the program's highest since it averaged 76.8 per game in 1975-76. The current average would rank as the ninth 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 19 times and 70 or more 23 times. UCSB has also scored 80 points or more 14 times and 90 or more three times. The last time the team scored 80-plus points in 14 games was in 1970-71 and the last time it scored 90 or more three times in a season was in 1975-76. 

It's a Three for All as UCSB Breaks Record for Threes, Extends Three-Point Streak to 429 Straight Games
The Gauchos were 10-of-22 from three-point range on Thursday night against Cal Poly, 45.5%. It was the fourth straight game UCSB has made 10 or more threes. With the 10 threes, Santa Barbara has now made 250 on the season, a new school record, breaking the previous mark of 247 set in 2012-13. The streak of 10 or more is the longest of the year. The last time the team had four straight games of 10 or more three-pointers was in December of 2012. The Gauchos also had a season-high six players make at least one three and the team has now hit one or more three-point baskets in 429 consecutive games, the 41st longest streak in the nation. The last time UCSB failed to make a three-point basket was in the first round of the 2003 Big West Tournament against CSUN when it went 0-for-9. Finally, for the first time in history, the Gauchos have four players (Heidegger, King, Vincent and Jackson) with 40 or more three-point baskets.

Getting Defensive
On Thursday, UCSB limited Cal Poly to just 27.5% shooting from the floor. It was the lowest percentage by an opponent this season. The previous low of 27.9% was by Pacific Union on Dec. 30. It was the 10th time this season that a Gaucho opponent has shot below 40.0%.

Heidegger, King II Move Up UCSB's 1-2 Punch Top-10
After combining for 20 points in UCSB's Big West Tournament first round win over Cal Poly, Max Heidegger and Leland King II have combined for 1,080 points this season. Heidegger (594) and King (486) are the third highest scoring duo in school history. Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally hold the top two spots on the list having scored 1,194 in 2010-11 and 1,106 in 2011-12.