January 9, 2009

Gauchos Host Defending Big West Tournament Champ Cal State Fullerton in Fox Sports Game at Thunderdome Saturday

Jan. 9, 2009

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• The Schedule
Game No. 16
Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans
at UCSB's Thunderdome
Radio: KIST 1490-AM in Santa Barbara
TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Game available on Gametracker

Game No. 17
Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cal Poly Mustangs
at Cal Poly's Mott Gymnasium
Radio: KIST 1490-AM in Santa Barbara

• UCSB Hosts Titans Before Heading Out On The Road...Again
UC Santa Barbara will host Cal State Fullerton Saturday in a game that will be televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. The game against the Titans will be a Kids-to-College Night with all kids admitted free, and the first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive free Fanbannas. Following Saturday's game, UCSB will hit the road for three in a row, beginning with Jan. 17 at Cal Poly. Tickets for all Gaucho games can be purchased from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB, or online by clicking here.

• Saturday's Game Set For Fox Sports Prime Ticket
UCSB's game against defending Big West Tournament champion Cal State Fullerton, scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, will be carried live on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. Paul Sunderland will call the play-by-play with former NBA star Michael Cage handling the color. The game is available on Cox Cable channel 36 in Santa Barbara, Dish Network channel 411, and Direct TV channel 149. For other cable systems, please check your local channel guide.

• Mathlete Salute
On Saturday, Jan. 10, the UCSB basketball team will honor its newest teammates: 150 third grade students from the Goleta community. The students have completed the UCSB Men's Basketball Mathlete Program and will be recognized for their accomplishments at the game against Cal State Fullerton. The Mathlete Program is part of the "Gauchos Give" community outreach initiative.

• The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter Saturday's game with a 7-8 record overall and a 1-2 record in Big West games. On Thursday night, the Gauchos recorded their first Big West win of the season, a 68-61 victory over UC Irvine. Santa Barbara dropped its first two league games, losing on the road to Long Beach State (76-64) and UC Riverside (71-69).

• UCSB Can't Hold Lead, Loses At UC Riverside
James Powell scored 19 points and Will Brew, Jr., added a career-high 18 to pace UCSB to a 68-61 win over visiting UC Irvine on Thursday night. The Gauchos jumped out to a 33-21 halftime lead on the strength of a15-point, 5-for-5 three-point performance by Brew and 10 points from Powell. In the half, UCSB made 13-of-22 shots from the field, a blistering 59.1%. Kevin Bland opened the second half with a short jump shot to cut the lead to 33-23, but Brew responded for the Gauchos with his sixth three-pointer to push the advantage by to 13, 36-23. Michael Hunter scored 10 points during a 24-11 UCI run that tied the score at 41-apiece. During the run, the Anteaters made 10 of their 12 shots, 83.3%. After the teams traded baskets over a four minute stretch, UCI rallied again, taking its first lead of the second half on a lay-up by Adam Folker with 7:33 to play. Forward Eric Wise, who finished with 13 points, scored on a lay-up with 5:50 remaining to give the Anteaters their last lead, 54-53. The Gauchos outscored the Anteaters 15-7 the rest of the way with Chris Devine making 7-of-8 free throws and Powell scoring five, including a three-pointer to push the lead to 62-55 with 1:59 left. UCSB finished the game at 55.3% from the field.

• The Opponents
UCSB and Cal State Fullerton have played 65 times in a series that dates back to 1977. The Gauchos hold a 34-31 advantage all-time. In 2007-08, Santa Barbara won both games played between the team, winning in Fullerton 87-72 and at home 83-80. UCSB and Cal Poly have met on the court 90 times. Santa Barbara holds a 60-30 all-time edge in the series that started in 1938. The Gauchos won both games between the schools last year, defeating the Mustangs in San Luis Obispo by a score of 75-60 and at the Thunderdome by a 60-47 count.

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 170-139. 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 359-239 (.603) at four-year schools.

• Possible Starters - Notes
G - 20 - Will Brew, Jr. - Scored career-high 18, making 6 three-pointers, vs. UC Irvine.
G - 42 - James Powell - Had 19 points vs. UC Irvine, his highest total since Nov. 24.
G - 21 - James Nunnally - Scored all 4 of his points vs. UC Irvine from FT line.
F - 10 - Chris Devine - Has 1,348 career points. Needs four to move into 8th all-time.
C - 55 - Greg Somogyi - Ranks 3rd on UCSB freshman list with 23 blocked shots.

• Possible Reserves - Notes
F - 0 - Jaimé Serna -Has averaged 7.0 points in the last two games.
G - 1 - D.J. Posley - Led team with 4 assists vs. UC Irvine.
G - 2 - Nick Quick - Has played in 8 out of the 15 games.
G - 3 - Jordan Weiner - Totaled 17 minutes in last 3 games after playing 24 vs. Ball State.
G - 4 - Paul Roemer - Had a pair of steals in win over UC Irvine.
F - 15 - Sam Phippen - After scoring 7 points last year, he has 38 in 14 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 led the Gauchos and was 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 wrist surgery.

• Home Sweet Home...But Don't Get Used To It
On Saturday, UCSB will play its second straight home game. It will mark the first time since mid-November that Santa Barbara has played back-to-back games at the Thunderdome. Overall, the Gauchos have played six of their 15 games at home, but following the game against Cal State Fullerton, they will hit the road...again. UCSB will play games at Cal Poly, UC Davis, and Pacific. When that trip wraps-up, the Gauchos will have played 12 of 16 games away from home. At one point in late-November into December, they played five straight and seven out of eight away from home. The result of all the travel? A 1-6 record in true road games and a 2-0 mark in neutral court games.

• Freeloaders
After getting off to an awful start at the free throw line, the Gauchos have started to turn things around in the last two games. Although they are shooting just 66.8% from the charity stripe for the season, they have made 46 out of 55 in the last two games, 83.6%. In a Jan. 4 game at UC Riverside, UCSB made a season-high 27, in 31 attempts, for a season-best 87.1%. On Thursday night against UC Irvine, the Gauchos had another outstanding night as they made 19-of-24, 79.2%, including 8-of-9 in the waning minutes to ice the win. Chris Devine and James Powell lead the way for UCSB at 80.5% and 80.0% respectively.

• No Safe Lead
On Thursday night against UC Irvine, UCSB opened-up a 14-point first half lead. The Gauchos still led by 13 early in the second half, but the Anteaters rallied and actually took the lead by one point on two occasions. Santa Barbara was able to hold on against Irvine, but they still flirted with disaster. One game earlier, on Jan. 4 at UC Riverside, UCSB piled-up a 14-point lead in the second half only to see the Highlanders use a 17-2 run to seize control of the game. Ultimately, UCR won 71-69. On Nov. 24 at San Francisco, the Gauchos led the Dons by 11 with just under four minutes to play, but a 15-0 USF run gave them a narrow 73-72 win. UCSB also gave up smaller leads in losses to North Carolina, San Diego State, and Long Beach State.

• Turnover Turnaround
While UCSB is averaging 16.3 turnovers per game, the figure is not quite as daunting lately. While the Gauchos did have 14 miscues in Thursday's win over UC Irvine, they have averaged just 12.2 per game in the last four. They had a season-low in consecutive games against Ball State (Dec. 29) and Long Beach State (Jan. 2). They have had 20 or more five times, but just once in the last 10 games.

• The Other Turnover Story
While UCSB is headed into the right direction with its turnovers, the opposition has trended in the opposite direction. Through 15 games, Gaucho opponents are averaging 16.2 turnovers per game. In the last seven, however, the opponents have averaged 17.1 per game. Twice over that span (Dec. 13 vs. Loyola Marymount and Dec. 20 at San Diego State) UCSB forced 20 or more turnovers. On the season, the Gauchos have forced opponents into 20 or more three times.

• Stolen Moments
The Gauchos are averaging 6.9 steals per game in 2008-09. In 2007-08, UCSB set a school record by collecting 276 steals in 32 games, an average of 8.6 per game.

• 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 15 games. Last week at Long Beach State, they started three of the freshmen - Nunnally, Brew and Somogyi - also a first since the 2000-01 season. On Thursday, the same trio started together for the second time. In 2000-01, the Gauchos started Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako, and Nick Jones together on several occasions.

• Freshmen Block Party
The Gauchos have blocked 42 shots on the season, an average of 2.8 per game. Freshman Greg Somogyi leads the way with 23, nearly 55% of the team total. Somogyi, however is not the only freshman getting into the shot-blocking act. Jaimé Serna ranks second on the team with five, while James Nunnally has three, and Will Brew, Jr., has two. Combined the first-year foursome has 33 of the team's 42 swats, an impressive 78.6%.

• Playing The Percentages
Following a two-game road trip in which they made just 42-of-104 shots, 40.4%, the Gauchos need a little pick-me-up. They got it in Thursday night's win over UC Irvine. Led by guards James Powell and Will Brew, Jr., UCSB hit 21-of-38 field goal attempts, a season-best 55.3%. In fact, it was just the second time this season that the Gauchos made better than 50.0% of their shots. Powell and Brew, who each entered the game shooting well-below 40.0% from the floor, combined to make 13-of-17 overall, 76.5%, and 7-of-9 from three-point territory, 77.8%. Powell was 7-of-10 overall and 1-for-2 from three-point range, while Brew made 6-of-7, all from outside the three-point arc.

• On The Rebound
UCSB was outrebounded by UC Irvine, 30-25. The Anteaters had 13 offensive boards in the game, one shy of an opponent-high for the season. While the Gauchos are outrebounding their foes by an average of 1.6 per game, they have been outrebounded three times in the last five games and in those five opponents are winning the rebound-battle by 1.4 per game.

• Devine Intervention
Although Chris Devine scored just 11 points in Thursday's win over UC Irvine, he is still playing at his highest offensive level since early in the 2006-07 season. Devine has scored in double-figures in seven straight games, averaging 16.7 per game over that span. The seven-game streak is his longest since early in the 2006-07 season. Prior to the 11-point outing against the Anteaters, he had scored 20 or more in two straight. After opening league play at Long Beach State on Jan. 2 with a 20-point effort, Devine equaled his season-high with 24 on Jan. 4 at UC Riverside. On the year, he is now averaging 14.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Devine also had 24 points on Nov. 24 at San Francisco. While he had just three rebounds on Thursday, the Eagle River, Alaska-native has averaged 6.5 per game in the four games since the team's leading rebounder, Jesse Byrd, went down with a knee injury. In the game at Long Beach State, he became the ninth player in UCSB history to eclipse the 1,300 point mark. He enters Saturday's game against Cal State Fullerton with 1,348 total points and needs four to move into eighth all-time. In addition, Devine moved into the school's all-time top-10 for rebounds last week. He now has 604, the ninth most all-time. He needs nine to move into eighth. Finally, 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 had his best offensive game in more than five weeks when he scored 19 points - on 7-of-10 shooting - in Thursday's win over UC Irvine. Since he scored 22 on Nov. 24 at San Francisco, Powell had not score more than 15 in a game. Although he has scored in double-figures in four straight - his longest streak of the season - he had struggled mightily with his shooting. In 10 games prior to Thursday's 7-for-10 performance, Powell made just 31-of-101 field goal attempts overall, 30.7%, and 18-of-60 from three-point range, 30.0%. With his outstanding effort against the Anteaters, he is now averaging 11.7 points per game and shooting 34.3% from the field. He is at 29.9% from three-point range. On the year, he continues to lead the Gauchos in three-point baskets with 29. Powell has been in double-figures nine times in 15 games this season. He is averaging 2.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He had a season-high five assists on Jan. 2 at Long Beach State and a career-high seven rebounds on Nov. 14 against Cal State Los Angeles. Finally, Powell has made 146 career three-pointers, the eighth most in UCSB history.

• 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 Serna had six points and three assists in a season-high 27 minutes on Thursday night against UC Irvine. One game earlier, on Jan. 4 at UC Riverside, Serna equaled his season-high with eight points. On the year, he is now averaging 5.2 points per game, but in three Big West games he is checking-in at 7.0 per game. Also, while he is averaging 17.7 minutes per game, he has played 21 or more in the last three games, averaging 23.3 per game over that span. The Laguna Beach, Calif., native is second among active Gauchos at 3.4 rebounds per game. He has had three or more nine times and he had a season-high seven twice, on Dec. 29 against Ball State and Nov. 14 against Cal State Los Angeles.

• The Sultan Of Swat
Freshman center Greg Somogyi made his fourth start against UC Irvine, playing 12 minutes while scoring two points, grabbing one rebound and blocking two shots. He is now averaging 3.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. The native of Budapest has 13 blocked shots in his last five games, a total of 84 minutes. Somogyi had a career-high five in 15 minutes on Dec. 20 at San Diego State and his 23 on the season already ranks third all-time among UCSB freshmen.

• Strike A Posley
On Thursday night against UC Irvine, D.J. Posley had his best overall game since missing the Dec. 29 contest against Ball State. Posley had six points, two rebounds, one steal, and four assists in the win over the Anteaters. He also had just one turnover. In the previous game, at UC Riverside, he had a career-high six rebounds. On Dec. 17 at Weber State, Posley had a career-high 10 points. He has had a season-high five assists three times this year, and he paces the team in steals with 21. He has had at least one steal in nine straight games.

• Something's Brewing
Will Brew, Jr., had - by far - his best offensive game as a Gaucho in Thursday night's win over UC Irvine. Brew made 6-of-7 three-point attempts, including six in a row to start the game, and scored a career-high 18 points. The six three-point baskets were the same total that he scored in the first 14 games of the season and the 18 points equaled his total for the six games prior to Thursday night. He also led the Gauchos with five rebounds against the Anteaters. Brew is now averaging 4.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game, but in three Big West games, he is averaging 10.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Also, while he is shooting 42.6% overall and 44.4% from three-point range, he has been much better in the last three games, making 66.7% overall and 72.7% from three-point range. Brew has also had his career-high of five rebounds twice in the last three games, and the four assists he had on Jan. 4 against UC Riverside were one short of his career-high of five, set on Nov. 17 against Utah State.

• The Flying Nunnally
Freshman James Nunnally has been in the starting lineup in three of the last four games, including Thursday night against UC Irvine. In 21 minutes against the Anteaters - his hist total in three Big West games - Nunnally had four points, four rebounds, and two assists. All of his points came from the free throw line, where he was 4-for-5, but he missed all three of his field goal attempts. On the season Nunnally is averaging 6.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. In his first start, against Ball State on Dec. 29, 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 North Carolina.

• Sam I Am
Sophomore forward Sam Phippen is averaging 2.5 points per game on the season. He had two points and three rebounds on Thursday night against UC Irvine. The three rebounds equaled Phippen's second-highest total of the year. He has scored a season-high six twice, on Nov. 17 against Utah State and Dec. 13 against Loyola Marymount. He is 3-for-6 from three-point range this season. After scoring seven points in 15 games last season, he has produced 38 in 15 games this year.

• Roemer Wasn't Built In A Day
Junior Paul Roemer has come off the bench in each of the last eight games after starting the first seven. On Thursday against UC Irvine, Roemer played 17 minutes and was scoreless. He did have two steals, a season-high. On the year, he is now averaging 3.6 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. Roemer is third on the team in three-point baskets with 11, but has had just one in the last five outings.

• Jordan Rules
After scoring 11 points in a career-high 24 minutes on Dec. 29 against Ball State - his first career start - sophomore Jordan Weiner returned to his role as a reserve in the last three games, going scoreless in a total of 17 minutes. He is averaging 2.7 points per game and has made 10-of-25 three-point attempts, 40.0%. Of his 31 field goal attempts this season, 25 are from outside the three-point arc.