Gauchos Host Idaho State in Saturday Afternoon Thunderdome Matinée

Christian Terrell (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Christian Terrell (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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• Upcoming Games
Game No. 12
Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Idaho State Bengals

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

Game No. 13
Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Univ. of San Francisco Dons

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

UCSB Hosts Idaho State in the First of Five Straight at Thunderdome
UC Santa Barbara hosts Idaho State in a Saturday matinée to kick-off a five-game homestand that will bridge 2018 and 2019. On Dec. 29, the Gauchos will play the University of San Francisco in what is shaping up as one of the most difficult games of the season. The Dons are 11-1 heading into their Dec. 22 game at Stanford. UCSB will play Bethesda University in the first game of the new year on Wednesday, Jan. 2. On Jan. 9, Big West Conference begins with a match-up against rival Cal Poly at the Thunderdome. A Jan. 12 contest against UC Riverside will complete the homestand. Following the game against the Highlanders, the Gauchos will play four out of five on the road.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters Saturday's game against Idaho State with an 8-3 record. On Wednesday, Dec. 19, the Gauchos had a brief two-game winning streak ended in an 85-74 loss at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The two straight wins entering the game at Omaha had come in overtime against Rice, 99-89, and over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 55-45. Despite the loss on Wednesday, Santa Barbara has still won seven of their last nine games. 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. 

• Gauchos Complete Big Sky Schedule With Idaho State
UCSB has an overall record of 8-3 and a Big Sky Conference mark of 4-0. Actually, the Gauchos are in the Big West, but they've already played four Big Sky teams (Montana State, Portland State, Idaho and Sacramento State), and they will play a fifth when they host Idaho State on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome.

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 8-3 giving them a 31-12 record (.721) in Pasternack's first 43 games. The last time the program had a better 43-game stretch was when it went 22-8 in 1987-88 and then opened the 1988-89 season with an 12-1 record, giving it a 34-9 record over a 43 game span. 

Heidegger's Return is a Mixed Bag
Junior guard Max Heidegger, a First Team All-Big West Conference choice in 2017-18 when he averaged 19.1 points per game while setting a school record with 95 three-point baskets, made his season debut on Dec. 15 at Rice after missing the season's first nine games win a concussion. By most measures, Heidegger's debut was a success. In 29 minutes of activity, he made 6-of-16 field goal attempts, including 2-of-10 from three-point range, and 8-of-9 free throws, to tie for team-high 22 points. In his second outing of the year, which was also his first starting assignment, Heidegger was just 2-for-10 from the field overall and 1-for-7 from three-point range on Wednesday at Omaha. He did make all four of his free throws to finish with nine points. Heidegger, who was a Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American and a National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District selection in 2018, was named to the Big West Conference's 2018-19 Preseason All-Conference Team. In his season debut in Houston, he came off the bench for the first time since his freshman campaign. 

Gauchos Picked to Finish 4th in Big West Media Poll
With league play beginning during this homestand, it behooves us to take another look at the preseason media poll. UCSB was selected to finish in fourth-place in the Big West Conference in the annual poll of the media. The Gauchos received four first-place votes in the poll and totaled 149 points. UC Irvine collected 10 first-place votes and was picked to finish first with 192 poll points. Cal State Fullerton, which won the Big West Tournament in 2018, was picked second and UC Davis third.

The Opponents
The Gauchos are 3-2 all-time against Idaho State but the programs have not met since Dec. 19, 1977 when the Bengals posted a convincing 100-68 win in Pocatello. Nobody that played in that game remains active for either program. UCSB and San Francisco first met in 1961 and the Dons have won 25 of 39 meetings all-time. Last season, the Gauchos won in The City, 79-72. The last time the teams played in Santa Barbara was during the 2016-17 season and USF walked away with a 75-63 victory.

The Gauchos at the Thunderdome
The Gauchos have started the 2018-19 season with a 4-0 record at the Thunderdome. They have posted wins over  Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Sacramento State, Montana State and Cal Lutheran and are now 16-2 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's Possible Starters
1 Ar'Mond Davis G 6-5 190 Gr. Scored career-high 26 points at Omaha...5 3-pointers at UNO were his UCSB high. 
3 JaQuori McLaughlin G 6-4 190 So. Had career-highs with 6 3-pointers and 6 rebs. at Rice...22 points was his UCSB high.
4 Devearl Ramsey G 6-0 185 So. Posted career-highs with 5 3-pointers and 21 points at Rice...Double-figures in 4 straight.
12 Amadou Sow F 6-9 235 Fr. Has 5+ rebounds in 6 straight games...1st career double-double 12 pts, 11 rebs. vs. UAPB.
21 Max Heidegger G 6-3 180 Jr. Made 1st start of season on Dec. 19 at Omaha...Is 12-of-13 in free throws in 1st 2 games.

UCSB's Possible Reserves
0 Sékou Touré G 6-5 185 Fr. Has made 9 of his last 11 field goal attempts, 81.8%.
2 Jarriesse Blackmon F 6-7 220 Sr. Came off the bench for the 1st time this season on Dec. 19 atOmaha..
5 Jay Nagle F 6-8 205 Fr. Has played 15+ minutes in 5 straight games...12 of his 14 field goals are 3-pointers.
10 Maxwell Kupchak F 6-7 205 Sr. Made only field goal attempt and had 2 points at Omaha...Had been DNP in 4 straight.
14 Ami Lakoju F 6-9 260 Sr. Was 1-for-1 from the field on Dec. 19 at Omaha, his first field goal in 5 games.
23 Christian Terrell G 6-5 200 Jr. Made only shot and had 2 points in 4 minutes at Omaha, equaled shortest stint of year.
34 Zack Moore G 6-5 210 Jr. Was a DNP in last 2 games...Totaled 16 minutes in 4 prior games.
35 Robinson Idehen F 6-10 230 So. Has 2 or more rebounds in 5 straight and 8 times overall...Leads team in FG% at 67.7%.
40 Andrew Pickles F 6-7 225 Jr. A DNP in the first 11 games...Has battled a sprained ankle.

Complete Backcourt Has Decent First Showing
Until Dec. 15 at Rice University, UCSB's backcourt was playing without junior Max Heidegger, one of its key members who missed the first nine games of the season with the aftermath of a concussion. His debut against the Owls fueled the best game of the season for the Gauchos' backcourt overall. Heidegger (22 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 assist), sophomore JaQuori McLaughlin (22 points, 6-of-8 3-pointers, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal), sophomore Devearl Ramsey (21 points, 5-of-7 3-pointers, 3 assists, 1 rebound) and graduate transfer Ar'Mond Davis (10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) were instrumental in the win. If you add freshman Sékou Touré and Christian Terrell to the mix, the Gauchos backcourt combined to score 77 points, collect 15 rebounds, pass off for 12 assists and have five steals. They went 22-of-44 from the field overall, 50.0%, 14-of-28 from three-point range, 50.0%, and 19-of-20 from the free throw line, 95.0%.     

UCSB Continues Hot Free Throw Shooting
The Gauchos have been a solid free throw shooting this season, but in the last two games, they have been outstanding. On Dec. 15 at Rice, they were so exceptional it was nearly historic. Against the Owls, UCSB made 23-of-24 free throw attempts, 95.8%. It was the fifth best performance in program history and the best when not missing an attempt. When attempting at least 12 free throws the Gauchos have been perfect four times. They followed-up their superb performance at Rice with another outstanding effort in the game at Omaha. Against the Mavericks, they hit 16-of-19 charity attempts, 84.2%. This marks the first time this season that Santa Barbara has shot 80% or better from the line in back-to-back games. In the two games they have gone 39-of-43, 90.7% and are now shooting 73.3% for the year, tops in the Big West Conference.

20-20-20 Vision/Double-Double Vision
In its win at Rice University, UCSB had three players score 20 or more points and five score in double-digits. JaQuori McLaughlin (22), Max Heidegger (22) and Devearl Ramsey (21) became the first trio to score 20 or more points in a game since Feb. 1, 2018 when Heidegger (25), Leland King (21) and Jalen Canty (21) achieved the feat in an overtime win against Hawai'i. The last time five Gauchos scored 10 or more point in the same game was Jan. 13, 2018 when Heidegger (22), Canty (16), King (11), Gabe Vincent (11) and Marcus Jackson (10) did it at Hawai'i on Jan. 13, 2018. 

Three for the Show
In its win at Rice on Dec. 15, UCSB made 14-of-29 three-point attempts and then followed that up by making eighth (in 23 attempts) on Dec. 19 at Omaha. The 14 that the Gauchos made against Rice was three more than their previous season-high and the most they have made in a game since also hitting 14 on Dec. 30, 2015 at Seattle University. The 22 they have made in the last two games are six more than they made in any other back-to-back games this year.  In two games prior to Rice, UCSB combined to make 11 threes. 

Gauchos Look to Regain Defensive Prowess
The last two games have not been friendly to UCSB's defensive numbers. Through nine games, the Gauchos ranked among the nation's best in field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage defense and scoring defense. In the last two games, those numbers have trended up. Rice and Omaha combined for 174 points, 87.0 per game, upping the season average to 65.2. The last two opponents also made 63 out of 121 field goals overall, 52.1%, as compared to 39.6% for the season, and they drained 21-of-47 three-point attempts, 44.7%, well above the season mark of 28.3%.

Newcomers Make Their Mark
To say that UCSB has leaned on newcomers quite a bit through its first 11 games would be a bit of an understatement. The top four Gaucho scorers (Not including Max Heidegger who has played in just two games) and seven of their top eight are newcomers. Their top two rebounders and seven of their top eight are also newcomers. In all, exactly 670 of Santa Barbara's 823 points, 81.4%, have been scored by first-year Gauchos. The rebounding number is not quite as extreme with 295 of 387 individual rebounds, 76.2%, credited to newcomers. Finally of the 156 assists that UCSB has produced through nine games, 130 have been by newcomers, 83.3%.    

Win or Lose, It's Likely to Be a Big Margin
UCSB has played 11 games this season and of those, nine have been decided by 10 or more points. The only two games not decided by double-figure margins were the Gauchos' 76-69 Nov. 3 win over Portland State and their 67-63 loss on Dec. 2 at the University of Washington. Overall, UCSB has a +9.6 average point margin.