Jan. 4, 2007
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Senior guard Aaron Nixon scored a career-high 35 points and made seven of his team's 17 three-point baskets, as Long Beach State handed visiting UC Santa Barbara its worst defeat since December of 1979, 101-65 on Thursday night at the Pyramid.
The loss drops the Gauchos to 10-4 overall and 2-1 in the Big West. Long Beach was playing its league-opener, and improves to 10-4 overall and 1-0 in Big West play. The 49ers have won eight straight games.
Nixon scored 19 of his points in the first half, making 3-of-4 shots from three-point range. In the second half, he made his first four three-point attempts and scored 16 more points, all in the first six minutes, to finish with his 35 points. It was the most points scored by an opposing player against the Gauchos since Loyola Marymount's Bo Kimble went for 51 in December of 1989.
The game was never in doubt as UCSB had its problems on both end of the court immediately. The 49ers jumped out to a 5-0 lead and after an 18-foot jump shot by Alex Harris cut the gap to 5-2, they went on a 10-2 run to make it 15-4. A three-pointer by Harris brought the lead back into single-digits at 15-7, but but that was the last time the Long Beach edge would drop below 10. The 49ers finished the half by outscoring the Gauchos 35-20 and went into the locker room up 50-27.
The teams traded baskets to openthe second half. Nixon hit a short leaner from near the free throw line and UCSB forward Ivan Elliott responded with a lay-up on the other end. After Long Beach guard Kevin Houston made another short jumper, Chris Devine took a nice feed from James Powell and scored on a lay-up to draw UCSB to within 23, 54-31 with 18:42 to play. Led by Nixon, Long Beach outscored Santa Barbara 26-13 over the next eight minutes to take a huge 80-44 lead. Nixon had his final 12 points during the run.
The 49er lead peaked at 101-61 but a pair of baskets by Gaucho junior Trevor Bing in the final minute resulted in 101-65 final score.
The game was the worst defeat ever handed to a Bob Williams-coached UCSB team and the worst to a Gaucho team since Dec. 21, 1979, when they dropped a 102-58 game at UCLA. It was also the first time an opponent had scored 100 or more points in Williams' nine seasons and the first time in general since New Mexico State went for 113 in an overtime game on March 4, 1995.
The 49ers shot 54.5% for the game, including 51.5% from three-point range. They also had just 11 turnovers. As for the Gauchos, they made 45.2% of their shots overall and 35.0% from three-point range. They did, however, struggle from the line at 2-for-6. UCSB also had 19 turnovers.
Senior guard Cecil Brown made a trio of three-point baskets and finished with team-high 11 points. Devine and Harris each added 10 for the Gauchos.
UCSB will have to bounce back quickly. The Gauchos will travel to UC Irvine on Saturday night to take on the Anteaters in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Bren Events Center. UC Irvine defeated Cal Poly to open Big West play on Thursday night.