Tonight's Game: UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State Northridge
Jan. 22, 2004
Santa Barbara, Calif. - Tonight UC Santa Barbara hosts Cal State Northridge in a Big West Conference match-up. In unconventional style, Santa Barbara plays Northridge at home, then travels to Pacific to play the second-place Tigers Saturday, January 24. UCSB enters tonight's game with an overall record of 9-5 and a league mark of 3-2. The Gauchos are currently in fourth place behind league leading Utah State, Pacific, and UC Irvine. The Matadors come to Santa Barbara with an overall record of 6-8 and a league mark of 2-4. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Santa Barbara's Thunderdome and the game will be broadcast on KTMS 990 AM.
UC Santa Barbara Probable Starters
Starting in the backcourt for the Gauchos will be seniors Jacoby Atako, Branduinn Fullove, and Nick Jones. Atako, though only scoring five points, was instrumental in the victory over Cal Poly. His defense of Kameron Gray was key in slowing down the Mustangs offensively. Atako is averaging 6.4 points per game on the season while leading the Gauchos with 39 assists and 16 steals. Fullove is second on the team in scoring with an average of 10.1 points per game. Against Poly, Fullove scored just three points, but he dished out a game-high six assists. In conference games, Fullove leads the team in scoring with 11.2 points per game. Jones finally had his coming out party in last week's victory over the Mustangs. Despite returning to the team six games ago, it wasn't until last week that he really made an impact for Santa Barbara. Jones scored a season-high 13 points against the Mustangs on 4-of-8 shooting. He also made 3-of-4 three-pointers and both of his free throw attempts. Starting on the blocks for the Gauchos will be sophomore Cameron Goettsche and senior Bryan Whitehead. Goettsche is averaging 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He has scored in double-figures in four straight games and led the Gauchos in Saturday night's win with 15 points. Whitehead is making his presence felt on the glass, where he is tied for second on the team with 5.4 rebounds per game. He is chipping in offensively with 3.9 points on 23-of-54 shooting from the floor.
Cal State Northridge Probable Starters
Starting in the backcourt for the Matadors will be Michael Scott and Davin White. Scott, a 6-foot-0 senior, is averaging 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. He will be making just the fourth start of his college career against Santa Barbara. White, FOXSports.com's pick as pre-season Big West Newcomer of the Year, is second on the team in scoring with an average of 12.5 points per game and is adding 2.4 rebounds per game as well. The 6-foot-1 junior has notched two 20-point games on the season and is second in the Big West in steals per game with an average of 2.43. Starting on the blocks for CSUN will be juniors Ian Boylan and Etoagwara Onyenegecha. Boylan is third on the team with a scoring average of 10.8 points per game. He is pulling down 3.9 rebounds per game and leads the Big West in steals per game with 2.71. With 163 more points, Boylan will become just the 13th player in Cal State Northridge history to eclipse the 1,000-point mark. He has reached double-figures in 8-of-14 games for the Matadors this season and scored 20+ points once. Onyenegecha is leading the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He has started all seven games he has played in since returning to the team and has scored in double-figures each time. Starting at center for CSUN will be 6-foot-10 freshman Thomas Shewmake. Shewmake is averaging 9.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He is third on the team with a .494 field goal percentage and has connected on 11-of-27 three-pointers.
Scouting the Gauchos
UC Santa Barbara is coming off its best conference game this year. Cal Poly, in San Luis Obispo, is always one of the hardest games for the Gauchos considering the rivalry, atmosphere, and overall difficulty of playing in Mott Gym. Yet, Santa Barbara cruised up the coast and cruised through the game never relinquishing the lead after scoring the first three points of the game. UCSB is doing a number of things very well most notably, rebounding and defending. Casey Cook is leading the charge with 5.5 rebounds per game, but not far behind are Gottsche and Whitehead with 5.4 per game. Therein lies the key to success, a balanced rebounding force that is outrebounding opponents by 5.6 boards a game. Even more impressive is the 9.4 rebounds per game the Gauchos are outrebounding opponents by in Big West games alone. Defensively, UC Santa Barbara is heating up as well. After allowing the first three league opponents to shoot a combined 45.5% from the floor, the Gauchos have limited their last two to just 35% on 35-of-100 shooting. The magic mark seems to be .500, as the two opponents that have shot more than 50% have earned victories over Santa Barbara, while the three that have made less than half their shots, have been defeated. Offensively, UCSB is doing what it expected of it, shooting the lights out! Against Cal Poly, the Gauchos made a season best 69.2% of their three-point shots. The figures put up against Poly increased Santa Barbara's season three-point percentage to 41.3% and its league three-point mark to 47.8%. Combined with rebounding and solid defense, these numbers should earn UCSB many more wins throughout Big West Conference play.
Scouting the Matadors
Cal State Northridge opened Big West play on the right foot, defeating Cal State Fullerton, however, since then the Matadors have lost four-of-five. One of the issues for CSUN has been home court advantage, and unfortunately for Northridge, tonight's game is in Santa Barbara. At home, the Matadors are scoring 78.8 points per game while outscoring their opponents by 13 points. On the road, it's been another story, as Northridge is averaging 62.9 points per game and is being outscored by almost nine points. Part of it is rebounding, CSUN is about even in rebounding at home while being six under on the road, and part of it is defense as well. Northridge picks up the intensity at home, racking up a turnover margin of +6.0, but falls to +2.2 when playing away. Regardless, the Matadors rank first in the Big West in turnovers forced, turnover margin, and steals. They are third in the league in field goal percentage at .457, but from there it drops off considerably. CSUN is last in the Big West in rebounding with a total of 28.9 boards per game and the Matadors give up the second most turnovers, 16.4 a game.
Key Match Up
The key match-up in tonight's game will be Eto and Ian against Bryan and Cameron. Forwards Onyenegecha and Boylan are carrying the Matadors right now and they are doing so on both the offensive and defensive end. Onyenegecha will be the go-to player when Northridge has the ball, so in the absence of Casey Cook, Bryan Whitehead and Cameron Goettsche will be asked to defend the forward position without succumbing to foul-trouble. Boylan is good offensively as well, but will likely make more of a contribution defensively. Whitehead and Goettsche will need to put him to work and take care of the ball while doing so.
What To Look For
Look for UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge to battle it out in traditional Big West fashion. Santa Barbara is confident after the definitive win at Cal Poly while Northridge is struggling, having lost four of its last five. However, the Matadors are just one loss behind the Gauchos and can be dangerous on any given night. Look for Fullove to get back on track before Saturday's showdown with Pacific and look for UCSB's bench to contribute, as it has been doing so well throughout league play.