Men's Basketball Enters Big West Stretch Run, Travels To Cal Poly And Then Hosts Pacific On ESPN

Feb. 21, 2001

The Schedule
Game No. 24
Thursday, February 22, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cal Poly Mustangs
at Cal Poly's Mott Gymnasium

Game No. 25
Saturday, February 24, 2001 at 3:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. The University of the Pacific Tigers
at UCSB's Thunderdome
Note: The UCSB-Pacific game will be televised on ESPN 2.

Game No. 26
Thursday, March 1, 2001 at 6:05 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Utah State Aggies
at USU's Dee Glen Smith Spectrum

Nov. 19 - at Pepperdine 64, UCSB 53
Nov. 21 - USF 77, UCSB 74 (OT)
Nov. 25 - at BYU 67, UCSB 53
Nov. 29 - at UCLA 83, UCSB 77
Dec. 2 - UCSB 57, Westmont College 50 (OT)
Dec. 6 - UCSB 80, San Diego State 77 (3 OT)
Dec. 9 - USC 75, UCSB 73
Dec. 22 - at St. Mary's 71, UCSB 63
Dec. 27 - at UC Riverside 63, UCSB 59
Dec. 30 - UCSB 85, Loyola Marymount 69
Jan. 4 - *UCSB 81, Boise State 75
Jan. 11 - *UCSB 74, at Cal State Fullerton 71
Jan. 13 - *at UC Irvine 80, UCSB 56
Jan. 18 - *Long Beach State 76, UCSB 75
Jan. 20 - *at Idaho 68, UCSB 67
Jan. 25 - *UC Irvine 66, UCSB 56
Jan. 27 - *UCSB 94 Cal State Fullerton 69
Feb. 1 - *UCSB 78, at Long Beach State 71
Feb. 3 - *UCSB 73, at Pacific 67
Feb. 8 - *UCSB 69, Idaho 67
Feb. 10 - *UCSB 95, Cal Poly 88
Feb. 15 - *Utah State 71, UCSB 48
Feb. 17 - UCSB 59, UC Riverside 48
Feb. 22 - *at Cal Poly - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 24 - *Pacific - 3:00 p.m.
Mar. 1 - *at Utah State
Mar. 3 - *at Boise State
Mar. 8-10 - Big West Tournament

The Gauchos On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live on KEYT radio, 1250 AM in Santa Barbara. Randy Lee is back for his fourth season as the play-by-play announcer and Don Ford returns for his fifth year as the primary color announcer. Much to the chagrin of the listening public, UCSB Director of Athletic Media Relations Bill Mahoney will handle the color for selected road broadcasts.

The Gauchos On
In addition to KEYT radio, all UCSB basketball broadcasts can be accessed on the internet at either or at UCSB's official athletic website,

UCSB On The Internet
The Official Athletic Site of UC Santa Barbara is UCSB is part of the FANSonly network.

The UCSB Coaches Show
The Gaucho Coaches Show, hosted by Randy Lee, can be heard every Tuesday night during the basketball season at 6:30 p.m. on KEYT Newsradio, 1250 AM.

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters the week with an overall record of 11-12 and a Big West mark of 7-5. The Gauchos split a pair of games last weekend, losing to Utah State on Thursday (71-48) and then defeating UC Riverside (59-48) in a non-conference game on Saturday. The victory over the Highlanders avenged a December 27 loss in Riverside. In addition, with the win, UCSB has now won six of its last seven games. The loss to Utah State ended the Gauchos' season-best five game winning streak.

Gauchos Overcome Early Shooting Woes, Top UCR
In Saturday's non-conference game against UC Riverside, the Gauchos took a 2-0 lead at the 18:37 mark of the first half when Mike Vukovich hit a short jumper. At that point, UCSB was 1-for-3 from the field. That would be the last field goal the Gauchos would hit until Jacoby Atako made a jumper from near the free throw line with 5:28 remaining in the half, a span of more than 13 minutes. During that time, UCSB missed 18 consecutive shots and the Highlanders, who were not shooting the lights out themselves, went on a 17-1 run, to take a commanding 17-3 lead. The Gauchos were 1-for-21 from the field (4.8%) until Atako's shot. UCSB, however, bounced back, making 14-of-28 shots to end the game, and they outscored UCR 56-31 over the final 26 minutes to win for the sixth time in seven games.

ESPN Returns For Home Finale
ESPN, well ESPN2, will return to the Thunderdome on Saturday for UCSB's home finale against Pacific. The Gauchos and Tigers will play a rare afternoon game to accomodate the network with tipoff scheduled for 3:05 p.m. The game will also mark the final home appearance for a trio of UCSB players. Juliano Jordani, LaRon Bryant and LaDonte King will be honored before the contest.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his third season as head coach at UCSB. Last year he guided the Gauchos to a 14-14 overall record and a solid 10-6 mark in Big West play. He is the first coach in UCSB history to open his career with back-to-back seasons of .500 or better. In addition, he led the Gauchos to a record of 22-10 in league play in his first two seasons, a winning percentage of .687, the best two-year league mark in school history. In his first season, Williams guided UCSB to the Big West's Western Division championship, a 15-13 record overall and a 12-4 record in league. He was named Big West Coach of the Year in 1999. Williams has posted a 40-39 overall record as head coach of the Gauchos. Including this year, his Big West record is 29-15 (.659), the third best mark in the league over that span. In his career, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 229-139 record.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Had career-highs of 12 points and seven rebounds vs. UCR.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Has made at least one three-pointer in 13 of last 14 games.
G - Nick Jones - Has led team in scoring three times and UCSB is 3-0 in those games.
F - Mark Hull - Has gone 1-of-9 from two-point range in last two games.
F - Mike Vukovich - Pulled down nine rebounds in only 12 minutes vs. UCR.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Has shot 64.3% in his last nine games.
G - LaRon Bryant - Was suspended for UCR game, violation of team rules.
F - Juliano Jordani - Has hit 14-of-29 (48.3%) from field in last ten games.
F - Casey Cook - Played a season-low six minutes vs. UCR.
F - J.J. Todd - Helped spark UCSB comeback on Saturday, played 14 minutes.
G - LaDonte King - Went 3-for-3 from floor with career-high seven points vs. CSUF.

Ndiaye Will Redshirt Season
Adama Ndiaye, who was expected to be one of the top frontcourt players in the Big West this season, will redshirt, head coach Bob Williams announced last week. On November 16, Ndiaye fractured the ring finger on his left hand. On November 17, he had a pin placed in the finger, and has remained sidelined ever since, unable to compete for the remainder of the season.

The Opposition
UCSB and Cal Poly have already played once this season with the Gauchos defeating the Mustangs on February 10 in Santa Barbara, 95-88. The victory was UCSB's fifth in a row over Cal Poly and it gives them a lifetime edge of 48-25. The Gauchos and Pacific played in Stockton on February 3, with UCSB recording a 73-67 victory. The win was Santa Barbara's fifth in a row over the Tigers and it narrowed Pacific's lead in the all-time series to 41-39.

Fabulous Februarys
Since Bob Williams arrived at UCSB for the 1998-99 season, the Gauchos have been pretty tough to beat in the month of February. This year, Santa Barbara has jumped to a 5-1 mark in the second month of the year, last year they went 7-1 in February and in Williams' first season, they were 6-2. For those of you who struggle with simple addition, that would add up to an outstanding 18-4, a winning percentage of 81.8%. In the three Februarys, the Gauchos have gone 8-2 on the road and 10-2 at home.

Youth Is Served
Not only is youth served, the Gauchos are serving it in huge helpings. Through 23 games, UCSB is utilizing its underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) at a tremendously high rate. Freshmen have recorded 2,122 of the team's 4,725 total minutes, 44.9%. Sophomores have played 1,258 minutes, 26.6%. Combined, the UCSB underclassmen have played 3,380 minutes, 71.5% of this season's available minutes. The Gauchos' only two seniors (Juliano Jordani and LaRon Bryant) have played a total of 830 minutes, 17.6%. The upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) have logged 1,345 minutes, 28.5%.

Class War
Here is a breakdown of UCSB primary statistics and percentages by class:

LaRon Bryant and Juliano Jordani
251 points - 15.7%
143 rebounds - 18.4%
30 assists - 9.1%
18 steals - 12.7%

Mike Vukovich and LaDonte King
264 points - 16.5%
130 rebounds - 16.8%
21 assists - 6.4%
20 steals - 14.1%
34 blocks - 59.6%

Mark Hull and B.J. Ward
422 points - 26.4%
156 rebounds - 20.1%
107 assists - 32.4%
53 steals - 37.3%

Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako, Nick Jones, Casey Cook and J.J. Todd
662 points - 41.4%
345 rebounds - 44.5%
171 assists - 51.8%
53 steals - 37.3%

In The Nick Of Time
Freshman guard Nick Jones is making a habit of scoring key points and making big plays. With just over eight minutes to go in Saturday's win over UC Riverside, Jones hit a difficult driving layup. On UCR's next possession, he stole the ball and went in for another layup, instead, Jones was fouled intentionally, made both free throws and then when the Gauchos inbounded the ball, he was fouled again. When the dust in that sequence had cleared, UCSB went from a three point deficit to a two point lead. For good measure, Jones then drilled a three-pointer as the shot clock expired with 4:47 to go, increasing the Gaucho lead from three to six. He finished with a game-high 14 points career-highs of eight rebounds and three assists. A week earlier, against Cal Poly, Jones also made the big baskets. When the Mustangs pulled within two points with just under six minutes to play, he combined with another freshman, Jacoby Atako, to restore order. In the final six minutes, Jones scored seven of his 15. On February 1 at Long Beach State, the freshman guard from Oxnard, had his best game as a Gaucho tying a career-high with 19 points. In the final 8:41 of the game, as UCSB outscored the 49ers 23-3, he scored nine points, making 4-of-5 shots from the floor and his only free throw. Jones followed that up by scoring 13 points (5-of-9 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free throw line) in a win at Pacific, including four points in the final 3:19 minutes to help cinch the victory. On the year, he is now averaging 9.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game overall, but in league play, he is chipping in 12.0 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting exactly 49.5% from the field. Since playing only 113 minutes in the first eight games (14.1 per game), never playing more than 20 in any one, Jones has picked up the pace. In the last 15 games he played 453 minutes, an average of 30.2 per game and he has played at least 25 in all 15 and 30 or more nine times. Over the last 15 games, Jones has scored in double-figures 11 times, averaging 12.8 per game. Incidentally, in addition to his 19 point outing at Long Beach, he also had 19 points in a win over Loyola Marymount on December 30.

The Hull Truth, Nothing But
Since sophomore Mark Hull scored a career-high 31 points in a win over Cal Poly, the most points scored by a Gaucho player since Josh Merrill scored 31 in a win over Long Beach State in 1999, he has gone cold offensively. In last weekend's games against Utah State and UC Riverside, Hull scored a total of 14 points (seven in each game) and made just 3-of-15 shots, 20.0%. Interestingly, in the last two games, Hull made 2-of-6 from three-point range and only 1-of-9 from two-point range. Still, he remains the Gauchos' leading scorer overall at 13.7 points per game, and in league games at 13.4 per game. On Thursday against Utah State, Hull made just 2-of-6 shots, but he did distribute a career-high six assists to lead the team. Though he has had his troubles recently, Hull has been a consistent offensive force all season, scoring in double-figures 16 times in 23 games. He leads the team in three-point baskets with 32, and he has made at least one in 19 games, including seven in a row and 13 of the last 14. Since a 2-for-12 start from three-point territory, Hull has made 30-of-76, 39.5%, and that includes a two game stretch against St. Mary's and UC Riverside when he was 1-for-13. Hull's 14 field goal attempts against Cal Poly were the most he has launched in league play and the most since he attempted 14 against UC Riverside on December 27. After taking ten or more shots in 11 of the first 16 games, he has attempted ten or more only once in the last seven games. No coincidentally, Hull is resting more these days. He opened the season by playing 30 or more minutes in six straight games, averaging 36.7 over that span. In fact, he played 30 or more in 15 of the first 16 games. Although he played 37 against UC Riverside, Hull has played fewer than 30 in four of the last five and five of the last seven. In his career, Hull has now scored 603 points, the second highest combined freshman and sophomore total in school history. Carrick DeHart scored 725 in his freshman and sophomore campaigns.

Fulloving It
Freshman guard Branduinn Fullove is proving to be one of UCSB's best all-around players, doing a little of everything. He is second on the team in scoring (11.5 points per game), rebounding (5.0 per game), assists (3.2 per game) and blocked shots (7). On February 8, in a win over Idaho, Fullove finished with a game-high and career-high 23 points (including the game-winning basket with 1.8 seconds remaining) and team-highs of seven rebounds and four assists. In Big West play, Fullove's numbers are even better. In 12 league contests, the freshman from Simi Valley is second on the team at 13.3 points per game and a team-leading 3.7 assists per game. Fullove has scored in double-figures 12 times this season, including six of the last eight games and ten times in the last 14 games. Twice this season (vs. UC Irvine and Idaho), Fullove has led the team in points, rebounds and assists, becoming the only freshman in history to turn the trick. He has either led or tied for the team lead in assists ten times in his 20 games this season. Fullove has led the team in scoring four times and he has either led or tied for the team lead in rebounds four times. He is also emerging as an outside shooting threat with 22 three-point baskets. After opening the season by making only 3-of-14 (21.4%), he has made 19-of-41 (46.3%) over the last 14 games. In fact, Fullove has made at least one three-pointer in 13 of the last 14 games. He is also UCSB's best free throw shooter. Including his 9-for-10 performance last weekend, he has now made 76-of-90, 84.4%. Finally, his double-double against UCI on January 25 was the first double-double by a Gaucho freshman since the 1993-94 season.

The Vukovich File
Mike Vukovich continues to give UCSB outstanding offensive performances in the post and none have been better than when he made 12-of-12 shots from the field and scored a career-high 27 points on February 3 against Pacific. While that was his best, it was not Vukovich's only good outing. Although he scored only four points in 12 minutes against UCR, he did have nine rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. On the year, Vukovich remains UCSB's leader in field goal percentage at 58.3%. In Big West games, Vukovich is shooting an even more impressive 63.0%. Vukovich enters the week as the Gauchos' third leading scorer (11.2 ppg) and leading rebounder (5.7 rpg) and shot blocker (34). In 12 Big West games, he is third on the team in scoring (13.0 ppg), tops in rebounding (5.8 rpg) and blocked shots (18) and fourth in steals (ten). Since a slow start this season, Vukovich has been one of the most valuable players on the team. Tossed into the fire, and the starting lineup, when Adama Ndiaye fractured his finger in the preseason, he struggled early, averaging 5.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in the first five games. In those first five, he made just 11-of-29 (37.9%) shots from the field, and 5-of-10 (50.0%) from the free throw line. In game six, however, a light went on and Vukovich hasn't been the same since. In the last 18 contests, he has averaged 12.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocked shots, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 assists per game. He has also made 94-of-151 from the field, 62.3%, and 42-of-57 from the free throw line, 74.0%. And, after scoring in double-figures just twice in his the first 54 games of his career, Vukovich has scored in double-digits 13 times in the last 18 games, scoring 20 or more three times in that span.

A Fresh Approach
On December 30, in a home win over Loyola Marymount, UC Santa Barbara started three freshmen for the first time in school history. All three freshmen who made history on that day (Wow, that's profound.) remain in the starting lineup. Branduinn Fullove, Nick Jones and Jacoby Atako have each started the last 14 straight games for the Gauchos.

From Hot To Cold
UCSB has struggled with its shooting in the last two games and the decline was anything but gradual. In the win over UC Riverside, the Gauchos shot 30.6%, the lowest mark they have recorded while winning a game in many years, and in the loss to Utah State they made just 36.6%. In each of the games, UCSB equalled its season-low for field goals made with 15. Their two game total of 30-of-90 works out to 33.3%. In the game immediately prior to the Utah State contest, a home win over Cal Poly, the Gauchos shot a blistering 67.4%, tying the fourth best mark in school history and the highest percentage recorded since December of 1989. In fact, in the five games prior to last Thursday's game against the Aggies, UCSB made 141-of-257, a lofty 54.9%, and they never shot below 45.3% in those five. Over that same five game span, they limited the opponents to 115-of-299 from the floor, 38.5%. The Aggies, meanwhile, made 56.0% of their shots, the highest mark by a UCSB opponent this season and only the second time that an opponent has hit 50.0% or better.

As The World Turns (Over)
UCSB continues to turn the ball over at a disheartening rate. In fact, in each of the last two games their field goal total was equalled or exceeded by their turnover total. Probably not a good sign. The Gauchos are averaging 16.3 turnovers per game and they have had at least ten in every game this season and 15 or more in 17. In fact, UCSB has had 15 or more turnovers in four straight games and six times in the last seven games. By contrast, Gaucho opponents are averaging 14.9 turnovers per game and they have had 15 or more on only 12 times. In the last six games, UCSB has forced the opposition into only 62 turnovers, 10.3 per game.

Starting Lineup Rundown
Here is UCSB's record with the various starting lineups this season:
1. Ward, Bryant, Hull, Jordani and Vukovich: 2-5
2. Ward, Bryant, Fullove, Hull and Jordani: 0-1
3. Atako, Fullove, Hull, Jordani and Vukovich: 0-1
4. Atako, Jones, Fullove, Hull and Vukovich: 9-5

Pointing The Way
Freshman point guard Jacoby Atako is starting to emerge. In Saturday's win over UCR, he had arguably the best game of his career, scoring a career-high 12 points and collecting a career-high seven rebounds. In addition, he also had three assists and made 7-of-8 shots from the free throw line. On the year, Atako is now averaging 4.9 points per game, the highest his average has been since he was averaging 5.5 per game after two contests. Most importantly, he seems to be gaining some confidence with his shooting. After making just 8-of-43 (18.6%) shots in nine games between January 11 and February 8, he has made 7-of-9 (77.8%) in the last three games, scoring in double-figures twice. Also, in the last two games, Atako has hit 2-of-3 from three-point range. In 13 games prior to that, he made just 1-of-16. By making 7-of-8 free throws on Saturday, Atako is now shooting 66.7% from the line and to get to that point, he has had to make 23 of his last 30, 77.0%. Finally, he leads the Gauchos in assists with 73, 3.2 per game, and has committed only 53 turnovers, an assist to turnover ratio of 1.4-to-1.0.

Parting Shots
Last season, in 28 games, the Gauchos had four players score in double-figures a total of six times. This year, the team has had four or more in double-figures nine times in 23 games.

The Gauchos have committed more fouls than their opponents only six times in 23 games this season.

A freshman (Branduinn Fullove or Jacoby Atako) has either led or tied for the team lead in assists in 16 of the last 19 games and in 19 of the 23 contests this season.

Of the five major statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots and steals) a freshman or sophomore has led or tied for the team lead 70 times in 115 opportunities, 60.9%.

Eight different players have either led or tied for the team lead in scoring this season.

Six different players have either led or tied for the team-lead in rebounding.

B.J. Ward is the only Gaucho player to have at least one assist in all 23 games this season.

In the win over UC Riverside, all three Gauchos who scored in double-figures were freshmen, marking the first time in school history that every player in double-figures in a game (minimum of three) were freshmen.

The opposition has attempted 120 more three-pointers than the Gauchos this season.

UCSB has attempted 32 more free throws than its opponents, making 52 more.

J.J. Todd has played 31 minutes in the last three games (10.3 per game) after playing only 57 minutes in ten appearances over the first 20 games (5.7 per appearance).