Gauchos Battle Arkansas-Pine Bluff Saturday Night at Thunderdome

JaQuori McLaughlin (Photo by Tony Mastres)
JaQuori McLaughlin (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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Game No. 9
Saturday, Dec. 8 , 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lions

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

Game No. 10
Saturday, Dec. 5 , 2018 at 12:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Rice University Owls

at Rice's Tudor Fieldhouse - Houston, Texas
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: Watch ESPN

Gauchos Host Arkansas-Pine Bluff Before Time Off for Final Exams
UC Santa Barbara will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday, Dec. 8 in the first-ever meeting between the schools. The game against the Lions will be UCSB's last contest before heading into final examinations week. The Gauchos return to the court on Saturday, Dec. 15 when they travel to Houston to play Rice University. On Wednesday, Dec. 19, they will continue their tour of some of the coldest locations in the U.S. when they play at Nebraska-Omaha before returning home for five consecutive games, including the start of Big West Conference play. The five-game homestand will include Idaho State (Dec. 22), San Francisco (Dec. 29), Bethesda (Jan. 2), Cal Poly (Jan. 9) and UC Riverside (Jan. 12). 

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters Saturday's game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff with a 6-2 record. On Sunday, Dec. 2, the Gauchos had their five-game winning streak ended at the University of Washington, 67-63. The five wins in the streak came against Sacramento State, Idaho, Portland State, Montana State and Cal Lutheran. In 2017-18, UCSB finished with an overall record of 23-9 and a Big West Conference mark of 11-5. The 23 wins equaled the most in school history and the 11-5 league record was good for second-place. 

UCSB Battles Back But Falls at Washington, 67-63
Just 3:51 into their game at Washington on Sunday, the Gauchos trailed 10-0, but they battled back before falling by a score of 67-63. By halftime of the game in Seattle, UCSB had pulled within 26-21. After Amadou Sow made a layup to start the second half, the Huskies went on an 8-2 run to extend their lead to 34-25, but Santa Barbara responded with a 12-2 surge that was capped by a Jay Nagle three-pointer and then a Sow free throw to give the Gauchos a 37-36 lead. They took their bigges lead of the game at 48-46 on a three-pointer by Ar'Mond Davis with 7:42 left in the game, but UW responded with a 9-0 run to go in front 55-48. UCSB, however, wasn't finished as it tied the score twice more at 57-57 and 60-60. The final tie came with 1:35 remaining. The Huskies outscored the Gauchos 7-3 down the stretch, with five of the points coming from the free throw line, to seal the win. Davis had his first career double-double with 20 points to go along with career-highs of 10 rebounds and three assists. Devearl Ramsey added 12 points, while Nagle had nine points and career-highs of six rebounds and three steals. 

Heidegger is Day-to-Day
Junior guard Max Heidegger, a First Team All-Big West choice in 2017-18 when he averaged 19.1 points per game, has yet to play for UCSB this season and he remains day-to-day as he recovers from a concussion. In addition to All-Big West Conference, Heidegger earned NABC All-District and Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American honors as a sophomore. 

UCSB in the Midst of its Best Stretch in 30 Years
In Joe Pasternack's first season, UCSB tied a school record for wins and went 23-9. Through the first six games in 2018-19, the Gauchos are 6-2 giving them a 29-11 record (.725) in Pasternack's first 40 games. The last time the program had a better 40-game stretch was when it went 22-8 in 1987-88 and then opened the 1988-89 season with a 10-0 record (ultimately 11-0 and 15-1), giving it a 32-8 record over a 40 game span. 

Gauchos Had Best Start in More Than a Decade
UCSB's 6-1 start to the season was the program's best since the 2007-08 season when it also began the year with a 6-1 record. That Gaucho team ultimately went 10-1 before losing at top-ranked North Carolina.  

UCSB's Possible Starters
1 Ar'Mond Davis - G - 1st career double-double, 20 and 10 vs. UW on Dec. 2...Averaging 18.8 in last 5 games. 
2 Jarriesse Blackmon - F - 1st career double-double, 12 and 10 on Nov. 24 vs. Idaho...Fouled out in 10 mins. at UW.
3 JaQuori McLaughlin G - Has 5 assists in 4 of the last 5 games...Season-high 38 mins. on Dec. 2 at UW.
4 Devearl Ramsey - G - Scored 12 points and made 2 3-pointers on Dec. 2 at UW...10 or more pts. in 4 games.
12 Amadou Sow - F - Has scored in double-figures in 4 of the last 6 games...5+ rebounds in 6 games.

UCSB's Possible Reserves
0 Sékou Touré - G - Played a season-low one minute on Dec. 2 at Washington.
5 Jay Nagle - F - Tied career-highs with 9 points and 6 rebounds on Dec. 2 at Washington.
10 Maxwell Kupchak - F - Was DNP in last 2 games after playing in consecutive games vs. Portland St. and Idaho.
14 Ami Lakoju - F - Had 1st assist of the season on Dec. 2 at UW...Scored career-high 16 Nov. 13 vs. Cal Lu.
21 Max Heidegger - G - Is day-to-day with concussion symptoms and has yet to play this season.
23 Christian Terrell - G - Had 3 rebounds in just 9 minutes on Dec. 2 at Washington.
34 Zack Moore - G - Played season-low 1 minute on Dec. 2 at Washington.
35 Robinson Idehen - F - Was scoreless on Dec. 2 at Washington, his first scoreless game since Nov. 6 opener.
40 Andrew Pickles - F - A DNP in the first 8 games...Has battled a sprained ankle.

The Opponents
UCSB and Arkansas-Pine Bluff have never met. The Gauchos are 2-0 all-time against Rice University, winning 74-71 in Houston on Dec. 23, 1972 and 84-80 in Santa Barbara on Dec. 29, 1973.

The Gauchos at the Thunderdome
The Gauchos have started the 2018-19 season with a 3-0 record at the Thunderdome. They have posted wins over Sacramento State, Montana State and Cal Lutheran and are now 15-2 at home under Joe Pasternack. In 2017-18, UCSB opened the regular season with an 11-0 record at the Thunderdome, equaling the longest streak to begin a home schedule in school history. The team finished with a 12-2 home record last season. 

UCSB Looks to Build on Big Turnaround
In 2016-17, the Gauchos went 6-22 overall and 4-12 in the Big West. Last season's team went 23-9, a 17-win improvement, the largest increase in victories in Big West Conference history and it equaled the most massive regular season improvement in NCAA history. In fact, last year's UCSB team became just the fourth Big West program to go from a season with a single-digit win total to 20 or more wins the following year. 

Pasternack Most Successful First-Year Coach in UCSB History
UCSB's 23-9 record in 2017-18 made Joe Pasternack the most successful first-year head coach in Gaucho history. Prior last season, Art Gallon's 15-10 mark in 1957-58 and Bob Williams' 15-13 in 1998-99 were the two best records for a first-year coach. 

In Defense of the Perimeter 
While UCSB is having its issues making shots from outside the three-point arc, its opponents are having even more trouble. Through eight games, Gaucho opponents have made just 43 out of 188 three-point field goal attempts, a paltry 22.9%, the best three-point field goal percentage defense in the Big West Conference and the second best in the nation. In the last four games, two at the Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase and games against Washington and Sacramento State, UCSB limited opponents to 17-of-82 from beyond the arc, 20.7%. Santa Barbara has allowed just two of its eight opponents to shoot over 30% from three-point range. North Dakota State made 34.5% and Montana State hit 34.8%.

Keeping Score
The Gauchos have scored 75 or more points in five of their eight games this season and are averaging 74.4 points per game. In fact, since scoring just 63 in a Nov. 11 loss at North Dakota State, UCSB has scored 393 points, an average of 76.0 points per game. On the flip side, opponents are averaging 61.6 points per game and since that Nov. 11 game when NDSU posted 82 points, Santa Barbara's opposition has totaled 283 points, 56.6 per game. Three of the last five Gaucho opponents have scored 58 points or less and all five have been below the 70-point threshold. 

Newcomers Make Their Mark
To say that UCSB has leaned on newcomers quite a bit through its first eight games would be a bit of an understatement. The top five Gaucho scorers and seven of their top eight are newcomers. Their top two rebounders and seven of their top eight are also newcomers. In all, exactly 500 of Santa Barbara's 595 points, 84.0%, have been scored by first-year players. The rebounding number is not quite as extreme with 219 of 294 individual rebounds, 74.5%, credited to newcomers. Finally of the 111 assists that UCSB has produced through eight games, 92 have been by newcomers, 82.9%.   

A Variety of Leaders
Through the first eight games of the 2018-19 season, UCSB has had four different players lead the team in scoring and seven pace the team in rebounds. Ar'Mond Davis has actually led the team in scoring in each oaf the last five games, but in the first three games the Gauchos were led by JaQuori McLaughlin (17 at Wyoming), Devearl Ramsey (13 at North Dakota State) and Ami Lakoju (16 vs. Cal Lutheran). In the rebound category, Amadou Sow, Jarriesse Blackmon and Ar'Mond Davis have each led the way twice.  

National Statistical Rankings
As mentioned to elsewhere, UCSB ranks second in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense. In addition, the Gauchos rank fairly high in a couple of other key categories. In overall field goal percentage defense, they are limiting opponents to 36.9%, 14th in the nation. Their rebound margin of +9.4 is also ranked among the top-20 in the nation at No. 18. Finally, Santa Barbara is allowing 62.3 points per game, 32nd best in the country.

Rebounds and Rings
Back in the Los Angeles Lakers' Showtime era, head coach Pat Riley had several favorite sayings intended to motivate his players. One that he would pull out during the postseason, and normally just prior to the Championship Series was: "No rebounds, no rings." This year's UCSB team seems to be taking that approach. The Gauchos have outrebounded seven of their first eight opponents, including the last three in a row, and have a +9.4 rebound margin. Santa Barbara has produced four games in which it outrebounded its opponents by 11 or more and three with a +17 or better margin. The only time the Gauchos have been outrebounded was on Nov. 23 vs. Portland State when they lost the battle of the boards, 41-39. Three UCSB players are averaging five or more rebounds per game. Amadou Sow is at 5.9 per game, Ar'Mond Davis is at 5.5 and Jarriesse Blackmon is averaging 5.1 per outing.