January 3, 2009

UCSB Seeks First Big West Win at UC Riverside Sunday

Jan. 3, 2009

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• The Schedule
Game No. 14
Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Riverside Highlanders
at UCR's Student Recreation Center
Radio: KIST 1490-AM in Santa Barbara

Game No. 15
Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Irvine Anteaters
at UCSB's Thunderdome
Radio: KIST 1490-AM in Santa Barbara
Game also available on Gametracker

• The Opponents
The Gauchos lead their all-time series against UC Riverside by a 19-4 margin. Last season, UCSB won both games between the schools, defeating the Highlanders in Riverside by a 64-53 count, and at the Thunderdome by a score of 73-55. UCSB holds an all-time edge of 41-28 over UC Irvine, but the Anteaters have won the last four games in the series, including a 55-50 decision in the semifinals of the 2008 Big West Tournament. The Anteaters, in fact, have knocked the Gauchos out of the league tournament in each of the last two seasons.

• UCSB Remains On The Road In First League Weekend
UC Santa Barbara opened its Big West schedule on Friday night with a loss at Long Beach State. On Sunday afternoon, the Gauchos will remain on the road for their second straight league game when they travel to UC Riverside for a 2:00 p.m. contest against the Highlanders. UCSB will return home for a two games on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10 when it hosts UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton respectively. The game against UC Irvine will be a Coke Family Pack Night and for $40.00 fans can get four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, and four t-shirts. Tickets for all Gaucho games can be obtained from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB, or online by clicking here.

• The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters Sunday's game at UC Riverside with a 6-7 overall record and a Big West mark of 0-1. The Gauchos dropped a 76-64 decision at Long Beach State on Friday night. The game against the 49ers was the league-opener for both teams. On Monday, Dec. 29, UCSB defeated Ball State, 71-51.

• UCSB Goes Cold, Drops Big West-Opener At Long Beach State, 76-64
After jumping out to an early lead, the UC Santa Barbara basketball team went ice cold at Long Beach State on Friday night, losing the Big West opener for both teams by a score of 76-64. The Gauchos made 9-of-14 shots, including 6-of-7 from three- point range and led 26-19 with just more than nine minutes to play in the first half. During the run that opened the game, Will Brew, Jr., made a pair of three-pointers and four other UCSB players - Sam Phippen, Paul Roemer, James Nunnally and D.J. Posley - each made one. That was when the 49ers went to work and the Gauchos stopped making shots. Over the final nine minutes of the first half, Santa Barbara missed 14 out of 15 shots, including its last four three-point attempts, and was outscored 17-3, falling behind 36-29 at the break. The Big West's defending scoring champ, guard Donovan Morris, was held to two points in the first 11 minutes, but he scored nine of the 49ers points during the 17-3 rally. Trailing 43-33 with 16:17 remaining in the game, UCSB used a 5-0 run to narrow the gap to 43-38, but Long Beach scored seven in a row, capped by a three-point basket from freshman guard Casper Ware, to reclaim a comfortable 50-28 lead. Ware finished with a game-high and career-high 21 points, which included a 3-for-3 performance from three-point range. The Gauchos could never get closer than seven the rest of the way, which they did at 68-61 on James Powell's only three-pointer of the game with 1:29 left. UCSB made just 22-of-57 field goal attempts overall - 38.6% - but they struggled even worse after their 9-for-14 start, making just 13-of-43 to end the game. Also after a 6-for-7 start from beyond the three-point arc, the Gauchos finished the game making just two of their final 18. The 49ers, on the other hand, made 57.8% of their field goals, including 7-of-13 from three-point range. The Gauchos, who were outrebounded 38-29, were paced by Chris Devine who finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. Powell was the only other UCSB player in double-figures as he finished with 10.

• The Bob Williams File
Bob Williams is in his 11th season as head coach at UC Santa Barbara. In 2007-08, Williams guided the Gauchos to a 23-9 overall record. The 23 wins were a school record, and UCSB also won its second Big West regular season title with a 12-4 conference record. Following the campaign, the Gauchos were awarded a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. It was the third time that a Williams-coached UCSB team advanced to postseason play. The 2002 Gauchos won the school's first Big West Tournament title, advancing to the NCAA Tournament, and in 2003, they won the league's regular season championship and played in the NIT. Williams has been selected Big West Coach of the Year twice, in 1998-99 and 2002-03. In 1998-99, he took over a UCSB program that had not recorded a winning season in five years, and after seeing his team lose its first eight games that year - extending a two-season losing streak to 16 straight games - the Gauchos turned things around, winning 15 of their final 20 games and finishing on top in the Big West's Western Division. Williams has a UCSB record of 169-138. He guided the program to eight winning seasons in his first 10 years, and a pair of 20 win seasons. He has a career record of 100-65 in Big West games. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, Williams spent eight years at UC Davis and in those eight years, his teams recorded 20 or more wins five times and a 158-76 record. In Williams's final season, the Aggies went 31-2, won the NCAA Division II National Championship and he was named NABC Division II Coach of the Year. Including two seasons at Menlo College, Williams has an overall career record of 358-238 (.603) at four-year schools.

• Big West Road Streak Ends Vs. 49ers
UCSB's 76-64 loss at Long Beach State on Friday night gave the Gauchos a 1-5 road record this season. The loss also started Big West play for Santa Barbara. In addition, the defeat ended a seven-game Big West road winning streak that the Gauchos ended the 2007-08 season on. After opening conference road play with a loss at UC Irvine last season, UCSB rattled off seven consecutive league road wins to secure a share of the regular season championship.

• A Fresh Approach
When UCSB played four freshmen in the season-opener against Cal State Los Angeles, it was the first time that four freshmen had played in the same game for the Gauchos since the 2000-01 season. The four freshmen, guards James Nunnally and Will Brew, Jr., forward Jaimé Serna, and center Greg Somogyi have each played in all 12 games. On Friday night at Long Beach State, they started three of the freshmen - Nunnally, Brew and Somogyi - also a first since the 2000-01 season when Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako, and Nick Jones were regular starters.

• Turnover Downturn Continues
One game after committing a season-high 23 turnovers at San Diego State, UCSB had a season-low in its Dec. 29 win over Ball State. The Gauchos had just 10 miscues against the Cardinals. On Friday night at Long Beach State, they repeated the feat with just 10 against the 49ers. For the season, UCSB is now averaging 16.6 per game, not bad considering the average was at 19.5 per game through the first five games.

• Possible Starters - Notes
G - 20 - Will Brew, Jr. - Had career-highs of five rebounds and two blocks vs. Long Beach State.
G - 21 - James Nunnally - Has made at least one three-pointer in three straight games.
G - 42 - James Powell - Scored 10 at Long Beach State, his second straight double-figure game.
F - 10 - Chris Devine - Became ninth Gaucho with 1,300 points and now has 1,313.
C - 55 - Greg Somogyi - Has 10 steals in 54 minutes over the last three games.

• Possible Reserves - Notes
F - 0 - Jaimé Serna -Has three or more rebounds eight times in 13 games.
G - 1 - D.J. Posley - Scored five points in 22 minutes on Friday. Missed Ball State game.
G - 2 - Nick Quick - Has played in eight out of the 13 games.
G - 3 - Jordan Weiner - Had three fouls in nine minutes at Long Beach State.
G - 4 - Paul Roemer - Has no rebounds in last three games, a span of 49 minutes.
F - 15 - Sam Phippen - After scoring seven points last year, he has 36 in 13 games this year.
F - 44 - Jesse Byrd - Could return in mid-February after knee surgery.

• Byrd Joins Joyner On Injured List
UCSB junior forward Jesse Byrd, a starter in the first 11 games of the year, injured his left knee in a Dec. 20 game at San Diego State. He will be sidelined until at least mid-February. Byrd, who leads the Gauchos and is second in the Big West in rebounding at 7.6 per game, joined point guard Justin Joyner on the injured list for the Gauchos. Joyner, the team's starting point guard in each of his first two seasons, will redshirt the 2008-09 season as he recovers from a wrist injury that required surgery last spring.

• Devine Intervention
Chris Devine had one of his best all-around games for the Gauchos in Friday's loss at Long Beach State. The senior from Eagle River, Alaska scored 20 points and had eight rebounds in the defeat. It was his second highest point total of the season - he had 24 on Nov. 24 at San Francisco - and it improved his scoring average to 14.2 points per game, the highest it has been since late-November. Devine has scored in double-figures in five straight games, averaging 16.4 points per game over that span. Also, while he is second on the team in rebounding at 5.5 per game, he has averaged 7.5 in the last two games. On Friday night, when he scored his first basket of the second half, Devine became the ninth player in UCSB history to eclipse the 1,300 point mark. He enters Sunday's game at UC Riverside with 1,313 total points and needs 39 to move into eighth all-time. In addition, Devine moved into the school's all-time top-10 for rebounds on Friday. He now has 593, the 10th most all-time. He needs just three to move into ninth. Devine also has a pair of double-doubles on the season - against Cal State Los Angeles (17 points and 11 rebounds) and Winston-Salem State (12 points and 10 rebounds) - giving him 11 in his career.

• Old Buddy, Old Powell
Junior guard James Powell scored 10 points in Friday's Big West-opener at Long Beach State. He also had a season-high five assists against the 49ers. On the year, Powell is now averaging 11.2 points per game, and although he has scored in double-figures in each of the last two games, he has really struggled offensively in recent games. Since scoring a season-high 22 at San Francisco on Nov. 24, the Pomona, Calif., native has averaged 9.3 points per game while making 28-of-90 shots overall, 31.1%, and 16-of-53 from three-point range, 30.2%. On the year, he continues to lead the Gauchos in three-point baskets with 26. Powell has been in double-figures seven times in 13 games this season, including three of the first four games. He is averaging 3.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He had a career-high seven rebounds on Nov. 14 against Cal State Los Angeles and he has had three or more rebounds eight times in 13 games, including six of the last seven. Finally, Powell has made 143 career three-pointers, the eighth most in UCSB history.

• A Hungary Hunter: The Sultan Of Swat
Freshman center Greg Somogyi made his second start on Friday night, playing 16 minutes while scoring three points, grabbing one rebounds and blocking one shot. He is now averaging 3.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. The native of Budapest has 10 blocked shots in his last three games, a total of 54 minutes. Somogyi had a career-high five in 15 minutes on Dec. 20 at San Diego State and his 20 on the season already ranks third all-time among UCSB freshmen.

• Byrd On Hold
Junior forward Jesse Byrd injured his knee in the Dec. 20 game at San Diego State and is expected to be sidelined until at least mid-February. When he was injured, Byrd was UCSB's leading rebounder at 7.6 per game and he ranked third in scoring at 8.3 per outing. Against San Diego State he had four points and six rebounds. It marked the 11th straight game in which he had at least five rebounds. On Dec. 17 at Weber State he had a double-double, going for 10 points and 14 rebounds. The 14 rebounds were the most by a Gaucho in five seasons. It was Byrd's second double-double of the season, he also had 13 points and 12 rebounds on Dec. 4 at Utah Valley. In the five games prior to his injury, the transfer from San Francisco averaged 10.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

• Yes, Serna
Freshman forward Jaimé Sera had seven points and three rebounds in 21 minutes at Long Beach State on Friday. For Serna, it was the most minutes he had played since also playing 21 on Nov. 24 at San Francisco, and the seven points were his third highest total of the season. He also tied his season-high by attempting six free throws against the 49ers. Serna scored a season-high eight points in back-to-back games at Utah Valley and Loyola Marymount, and he has had a season-high seven rebounds twice, including Monday, Dec. 29 against Ball State.

• Strike A Posley
Senior guard D.J. Posley sat out Monday's game against Ball State after missing three straight practices as travel problems prevented him from returning to Santa Barbara from his Chicago-area home where he had spent Christmas. Posley returned to action on Friday and in 22 minutes, he had five points and one steal. He is averaging 5.9 points per game and in his last eight games he has averaged 7.5 per game. On Dec. 17 at Weber State, Posley had a career-high 10 points. It was the third time in a six-game span that he had either set or tied a career high. He continues to lead the team in assists at 3.0 per game. On Dec. 13 against Loyola Marymount, Posley tied his season-high with five. It was the third time this season he has had five assists, also doing so on Nov. 14 against Cal State Los Angeles and Nov. 21 against top-ranked North Carolina. He is also leading the team in steals with 18.

• Something's Brewing
After a one-game absence, Will Brew, Jr., returned to the starting lineup on Friday at Long Beach and responded with one of his best games. Brew had seven points, a career-high five rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and two steals in the loss to the 49ers. He made 2-of-3 shots overall and from three-poin range. Brew scored a season-high 11 on Dec. 4 at Utah Valley. His seven on Friday were one more than his previous four games combined.

• The Flying Nunnally
Making his second straight start, freshman James Nunnally had four points, three rebounds, and one blocked shot on Friday at Long Beach. In his first start, against Ball State, Nunnally had 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists. The 12 points were his second-highest total of the season. He had career-highs of 22 points and seven rebounds on Nov. 21 against No. 1 North Carolina. Nunnally is now fourth on the team at 6.3 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game. He has made nine three-pointers on the year, including at least one in three straight games.

• Sam I Am
Sophomore forward Sam Phippen is averaging 2.8 points on the season, but 4.5 per game in the last two games. On Friday, he had five points in 11 minutes and he made the third three-pointer of his career. He is 3-for-5 from three-point range this season and overall Phippen is shooting 59.3%. After scoring seven points in 15 games last season, he has produced 36 in 13 games this year. He has a personal-best of six in games against Utah State and Loyola Marymount.

• Roemer Wasn't Built In A Day
Junior Paul Roemer has come off the bench in each of the last six games after starting the first seven. On Friday at Long Beach State, Roemer played a season-low 13 minutes, scoring three points. He is averaging 3.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, but in the last three games, he has just five total points, 1.7 per game, and no rebounds. Roemer also ranks second on the team at 2.3 assists per game, but did not have one in the game at Long Beach. The three-pointer that he made on Friday was his 11th of the year. In 2007-08, in 31 games, he had 12 three-point baskets.

• Jordan Rules
After scoring 11 points on Dec. 29 against Ball State - his first career start - sophomore Jordan Weiner returned to his role as a reserve on Friday night and was scoreless in nine minutes against Long Beach State. He missed both of his field goal attempts, both from three-point range, and had three fouls, one fewer than he had in 107 minutes entering the game. Weiner is averaging 3.2 points in 12 games this season. He has 10 three-point baskets, third on the team. Finally, 24 of his 30 field goal attempts have come from three-point range.