Men's Basketball, Winners Of Eight Of Nine, Ends Regular Season At Utah State & Boise State
Feb. 27, 2001
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
Game No. 27
Saturday, March 3, 2001 at 6:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Boise State Broncos
at BSU's Pavilion
The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters this week's games with an overall record of 13-12 and a Big West mark of 9-5. Over the weekend, UCSB won two games, defeating Cal Poly (84-77) on the road and Pacific (72-63) at home. The Gauchos, winners of eight of their last nine games, are in third place in the league, a half game ahead of Long Beach State. The 49ers have just one Big West game left, at home against Pacific, so UCSB must win this weekend to retain third place.
Nick Jones Named Big West Co-Player Of The Week
Freshman guard Nick Jones was named Big West co-Player of the Week this week for his performances in wins at Cal Poly and at home over Pacific. On Thursday, in an 84-77 win at Cal Poly, Jones recorded the first double-double of his career, going for 14 points and 11 rebounds. He followed-up that performance with a career-high 22 points against Pacific. In addition, he had six rebounds, two assists and career-high three steals against the Tigers. In the two games combined, Jones averaged 18.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 assists per game. He made 12-of-18 shots from the field (66.7%) and 11-of-14 from the free throw line (78.6%). Jones is now averaging a season-high 10.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He was joined by UC Irvine's Jerry Green who was also named co-Player of the Week.
Gauchos Win 3rd Straight, 72-63 Over Pacific
Freshman Nick Jones scored a career-high 22 points and three others scored in double-figures, to lead UCSB to a 72-63 home victory over Pacific on Saturday. Jones scored 11 points in each half and he was instrumental in helping the Gauchos fend off a second half charge by the Tigers. In addition to Jones 22, UCSB got 16 points from Mark Hull, 15 from Mike Vukovich and 13 from Branduinn Fullove. Vukovich had a team-high eight rebounds, while Jones and Hull each added six. As a team, the Gauchos shot 56.1% from the field and 77.4% from the free throw line. They held Pacific to 38.9% from the field, but the Tigers biggest troubles came at the free throw line where they made just 13-of-29, a dismal 44.8%.
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 42-39 overall record as head coach of the Gauchos. Including this year, his Big West record is 31-15 (.674), 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 231-139 record.
Probable Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has made 8-of-11 shots in the last five games, 72.7%.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Scoring average is up to season-high 12.0 points per game.
G - Nick Jones - Career-high 22 vs. UOP, Named Big West co-Player of the Week.
F - Mark Hull - Has made three-pointers in nine straight, 15 out of 16.
F - Mike Vukovich - 561 minutes is 108 more than previous two seasons combined.
Possible Reserves - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - 49 minutes in last two games is highest two game total since early December.
F - Juliano Jordani - While he averages 4.0 rpg on the year, has averaged 1.5 in last eight.
F - Casey Cook - Has made 20 of his last 38 shots, 52.6%.
F - J.J. Todd - Has committed only two turnovers in 101 minutes.
G - LaDonte King - Went 3-for-3 from floor with career-high seven points vs. CSUF.
I Repeat, Ndiaye Will Redshirt Season
As mentioned in each of the preceeding 20 releases, 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.
UCSB and Utah State have played one time this season. The Aggies walloped the Gauchos in Santa Barbara on February 15, 71-48. Utah State leads the all-time series by a margin of 29-21. The teams have not met in Logan, Utah since the 1998-99 season when the Gauchos won on a three-pointer by B.J. Bunton with less than a second to play. UCSB played Boise State in the Big West opener for both teams on January 4. The Gauchos won that one in Santa Barbara, 81-75. UCSB has won two in a row over the Broncos, including a 54-50 win in Boise late least season. The Gauchos lead the all-time series, 5-3.
Gauchos Go Over .500 Mark For First Time This Season
With their win on Saturday, the Gauchos have moved over the .500 mark for the first time this season at 13-12. While it seems a modest accomplishment, it takes on a bit more significance when one considers the injury to Ndiaye just prior to the season-opener and, of course, the 0-4, 2-7 and 5-11 starts. Since those points, UCSB has gone 13-8, 11-5 and 8-1.
Good Bye February, So Sad To See You Go
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 went 7-1 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 20-4, a winning percentage of 83.3%. In the three Februarys, the Gauchos have gone 9-2 on the road and 11-2 at home. Just our luck, February is the shortest month of the year.
Youth Is Served
Not only is youth served, the Gauchos are serving it in huge helpings. Through 25 games, UCSB is utilizing its underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) at a tremendously high rate. Freshmen have recorded 2,325 of the team's 5,125 total minutes, 45.4%. Sophomores have played 1,381 minutes, 26.9%. Combined, the UCSB underclassmen have played 3,706 minutes, 72.3% of this season's available minutes. The Gauchos' only two seniors (Juliano Jordani and the recently departed LaRon Bryant) have played a total of 849 minutes, 16.6%. The upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) have logged 1,410 minutes, 27.5%.
Here is a breakdown of UCSB primary statistics and percentages by class:
Current Gaucho Run Is The Best In Some Time
While UCSB's current three game winning streak is not worthy of declaring a National Holiday, it, combined with the five game winning streak that preceded a February 15 loss to Utah State, give the Gauchos eight wins in their last nine games. The best run during the Bob Williams era. The previous best run was seven out of eight, a feat that last year's Gauchos and the 1998-99 team each accomplished. To find an eight of ten run by a UCSB team, you have to go back to the beginning of the 1992-93 season when the Gauchos opened the campaign with an 8-1 record. The last time a Gaucho team recorded nine wins in ten games, or better, was at the outset of the 1988-89 season when they opened the year by going 11-0 and 15-1.
Big West Winning Ways
In winning their ninth game of the Big West season on Saturday against Pacifc, the Gauchos guaranteed themselves of finishing with a winning record in league play. After starting the conference season with a 2-4 record, the prospects of a better than .500 mark in league play looked rather bleak, but things have obviously turned around. With a 9-5 record and two games to play, the worst UCSB could do would be to finish 9-7, still two games over the break-even mark. This marks the third straight year that the Gauchos will finish the conference schedule with a winning record. In Bob Williams' first season, UCSB went 12-4. Last year, after an 0-3 start, they finished 10-6 and this year, as mentioned above and several other places in this release, they are 9-5. By posting three consecutive winning records in Big West play, the Gauchos are doing something that they have not done in quite some time. UCSB has not recorded three straight winning league seasons since they did so in 1986-87 through 1989-90. From 1991-92 through 1993-94, they did go 13-5, 11-7 and 9-9, but the last time I checked, 9-9 was not above the .500 mark. Finally, the .674 winning percentage that the Gauchos have compiled in league since Williams arrived for the 1998-99 season, would rank as the second best three-season league winning percentage in school history. UCSB recorded a Big West winning percentage of .685 between 1987-88 and 1989-90.
Hull Of A Player
Sophomore Mark Hull is UCSB's leading scorer at 14.0 points per game and he has been, with little question, the most consistent player on the team. He has scored ten or more points 18 times in 25 games, the most on the team. Last weekend, he scored 21 points and made a career-high six three-point baskets in Thursday's win at Cal Poly and then followed that with a 16 point performance against Pacific. For Hull, the 20 point effort against Cal Poly was his fifth game of 20 or more points this season. On February 10, he tallied a career-high 31 points in a home win over Cal Poly, the first 30+ performance by a Gaucho since Josh Merrill went for 31 against Long Beach State two seasons ago. In addition, he now leads the team with 39 three-point baskets, 15 more than he made all of last season. Hull has now made at least one three-pointer in nine straight games, 15 of 16, and 21 of 25. The nine game streak is the longest run of his career. Since a 2-for-12 start from three-point territory, Hull has made 37-of-92, 40.2%, and that includes a two game stretch against St. Mary's and UC Riverside when he was 1-for-13. With 11 field goal attempts on Saturday and 15 against Cal Poly on Thursday, Hull has now taken ten or more in back-to-back games for the first time since the middle of January. The 15 he took against Cal Poly were the most he has launched in league play and the most since he attempted 15 at St. Mary's on December 22. After taking ten or more shots in 11 of the first 16 games, he has attempted ten or more only three in the last nine games. Hull also leads the Gauchos in minutes played. Through 25 games, he has logged 833 minutes, an average of 33.3 per game. His 833 minutes are 159 more than Branduinn Fullove's total of 674. 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. He has returned to that trend, playing 111 in the last three, 37.0 per game. In all, Hull has played 30 minutes or more in 19 of 25 games. In his career, Hull has now scored 640 points, the second highest combined freshman and sophomore total in school history. Carrick DeHart scored 725 in his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
Keeping Up With The Jones
Freshman guard Nick Jones continues to get better and better. This week, he earned co-Big West Player of the Week honors for his performances in last week's wins over Pacific and Cal Poly. On Thursday at Cal Poly, he became the second freshman this season (the other being Branduinn Fullove) to record a double-double as he went for 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Then, on Saturday, he scored a career-high 22 points, making 6-of-7 shots, pulled down six rebounds, passed off for two assists and claimed a career-high three steals. Jones is now averaging a season-best 10.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game overall and 12.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in league games. He is also starting to scale the program's statistical freshman top-ten lists. His 255 points rank as the sixth highest total ever, while his rebound total of 107 ranks him eighth and his steal total of 15 ranks ninth. Recently, Jones has become a rebounding menace, averaging 8.3 per game over the last three games. He has also pulled down five or more 11 times this season, including ten times in the last 14 contests. In fact, his average of 5.2 rebounds per game in league play rank him second on the team. Not only is he rebounding at a high level now, but Jones is making a habit of scoring key points and making big plays. He scored 11 points in the final 12 minutes in Saturday's win over Pacific. Included among the 11 points were five free throws. With just over eight minutes to go in a February 17 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, eight rebounds and three assists. On February 10, 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, Jones and the Gauchos overcame a double-digit deficit in final 8:41 of the game, as UCSB outscored the 49ers 23-3. In the run, he scored nine points, making 4-of-5 shots from the floor and his only free throw. 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 a big way. In the last 17 games he has played 519 minutes, an average of 30.5 per game and he has played at least 25 in all 17 and 30 or more 11 times. Over the last 17 games, Jones has scored in double-figures 13 times, averaging 13.2 per game.
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 at a season-high 12.0 points per game, second in rebounding at 5.0 per game, first in assists at 3.3 per game, and second in blocked shots with seven. For the third time this season, Fullove has scored in double-figures in three straight games. In Saturday's win over Pacific, he had a typical Fullove game with 13 points (5-of7 from the field), five rebounds and three assists. In Thursday's win over Cal Poly, he scored 20 points to go along with a game-high six assists (only one turnover) and four rebounds. It was the third 20 point game Fullove has produced this year, second on the team to Mark Hull. 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 13 league contests, the freshman from Simi Valley is second on the team at 13.8 points per game and a team-leading 3.8 assists per game. Fullove has scored in double-figures a total of 14 times this season, including eight of the last ten games and 12 times in the last 16 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 12 times in his 22 games this season (he missed three full games with an ankle sprain). 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 has also emerged as an outside shooting threat with 23 three-point baskets. After opening the season by making only 3-of-14 (21.4%), he has made 20-of-46 (43.5%) over the last 15 games. In fact, Fullove has made at least one three-pointer in 14 of the last 16 games. He is also UCSB's best free throw shooter. Despite making "just" 10-of-14 (71.4%) over the weekend, he paces the team for the year, having made 86-of-104, 82.7%. If he can maintain that mark, he would set a UCSB freshman record for free throw percentage. Speaking of freshman lists, Fullove ranks high on several (please not the previous page of notes). Finally, his double-double against UCI on January 25 was the first double-double by a Gaucho freshman since the 1993-94 season. Nick Jones has also accomplished the feat.
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. On Saturday, he had another outstanding, although human, performance against the Tigers, making 6-of-10, scoring 15 points and pulling down eight rebounds. In last Thursday's win over Cal Poly, he made 5-of-6 shots from the field and tallied ten points. On the year, Vukovich remains UCSB's leader in field goal percentage at 59.2%, a mark that would rank fourth all-time. In Big West games, Vukovich is shooting an even more impressive 63.8%. Vukovich enters the week as the Gauchos' third leading scorer (11.3 ppg) and leading rebounder (5.6 rpg) and shot blocker (36). In fact, his blocked shot total of 36 ranks ninth all-time and his career mark of 51 swats ranks seventh all-time. In 14 Big West games, he is third on the team in scoring (12.9 ppg), tops in rebounding (5.7 rpg) and blocked shots (20) 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 20 contests, he has averaged 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocked shots, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 assists per game. He has also made 105-of-167 from the field, 62.9%, and 45-of-62 from the free throw line, 72.6%. And, after scoring in double-figures just twice in his the first 54 games of his career, Vukovich has scored in double-digits 15 times in the last 20 games, scoring 20 or more three times in that span. Additionally, after playing just 453 minutes in 49 career games entering the season, Vukovich has piled up 561 in 25 this season, an average of 22.4 per game. Finally, while he has fouled out of a team-high seven games on the year, five of those disqualifications came in the first eight games of the year, including four in the first four. He has now fouled out only two times in the last 17 games.
Point Guard Tag Team Gets The Job Done
The point guard tandem of freshman Jacoby Atako and sophomore B.J. Ward has gotten the job done this season. Early in the year, it was Ward doing the job. He started the first eight games and averaged 29.5 minutes over that span. In game nine, Atako took over the starting role and he has not been out of the starting lineup since. Ward, however, has not been forgotten. They continue to work as a duo, combining for a total of 149 assists (6.0 per game), 232 points (9.3 per game), 128 rebounds (5.1 per game) and 50 steals (2.0 per game). With one of the two in foul trouble in several games, the other has been there to pick up the slack. Atako, for example, committed four fouls in each of the last two games, limiting him to a total of 39 minutes. Ward, thus, played 49 minutes, his highest two game total since early December. Ward, in fact, is the only Gaucho player to contribute at least one assist in all 25 games this season. Atako has had three or more 14 times, including nine on January 18 against Long Beach State, the highest total by a freshman since the days of Aaron McCarthy (1980-81). Finally, after struggling, in a big way, with his shooting, Atako has bounced back. Over a nine game stretch from January 11 through February 3, Atako made only 8-of-43 shots from the field, a dismal18.6%. At that point, he was shooting just 27.1% from the field. In the last six games, however, he has shot 72.7%, to improve his overall percentage to 31.8%.
Todd Makes His Pitch For Time
For much of the year, it was easy to make the mistake regarding the number of freshmen who were contributing to the Gauchos. Obviously there were four, Branduinn Fullove, Nick Jones, Jacoby Atako and Casey Cook. Over the past six games, however, a The Fifth Freshman has emerged. J.J. Todd, the team's tallest player at 6-foot-11, redshirted last season after a career at Chaminade High School. Through the first 19 games of the season, his contributions were kind of like that of the 12th man on a 12 man pitching staff, he was the mop-up guy. Over those first 19 contests, Todd played nine times and logged 49 minutes, 39 of which came in games against USC, BYU, UCLA and Cal State Fullerton. In the last six, he has played 55 minutes, an average of 9.2 per game and, to say the least, he has played at key junctures. While he has scored only six points in the last six games, he has come up with 14 rebounds (2.3 per game) and a trio of blocked shots. Most importantly, he has given the team quality minutes in relief of starting pitcher, whoops, starting forward Mike Vukovich. Most impressively, Todd has committed just two turnovers in his 101 minutes, that's one per 50.5 minutes. In fact, he has not turned the ball over since December 3 against Westmont, a stretch covering 13 games and 75 minutes of action.
Bryant Leaves Team
By mutual agreement between himself and the coaching staff, senior guard LaRon Bryant has left the UCSB basketball program. "Gaucho basketball would like to thank LaRon for his efforts the last two years," said head coach Bob Williams. "We wish him the best of luck in the future." Bryant will remain on scholarship and in school for the remainder of the year. He had played in 17 games this season, averaging 8.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. His 30 three-point baskets rank him second on the team in that category.
Road Warriors Face Tough Test
UCSB got off to a slow start on the road this season, losing its first five games. Since then, however, they have won four out of five, including three in a row. UCSB has won consecutive games at Long Beach State, Pacific and Cal Poly. This week, however, the Gauchos their toughest two-game road trip of the season, at Utah State and at Boise State.
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 16 straight games for the Gauchos.
From Hot To Cold To Hot
After making a combined 30-of-90 (33.3%) shots in games against Utah State and UC Riverside, UCSB has hit 52-of-97, 53.6%, in the wins over Cal Poly and Pacific. In the five games prior to their back-to-back sub-.40.0% outings, UCSB made 141-of-257, a lofty 54.9%, and they never shot below 45.3% in those five. On the year, UCSB is now shooting 44.0% overall and a league-leading 49.0% in Big West games. They have made 50.0% or more of their shots eight times while their opponents have made 50.0% or better just twice. Last year, the Gauchos shot just 41.4% overall and 43.7% in league games.
The Other Side Of The Coin
Defensively, the Gauchos have been picking up the pace as well. On the season, opponents are shooting 41.5% from the field. In league play they are at 42.5%. UCSB has held the last three opponents to below 40.0%, and over that span the opposition went 64-of-173, 37.0%. In 25 games this season, the Gaucho opponents have been held below 40.0% eight times and only two (Utah State and UC Irvine) made better than 50.0%.
Gauchos Finally In The Black
After outscoring its last three opponents by a total of 27 points (UC Riverside by 11, Cal Poly by seven and Pacific by nine), the Gauchos have now outscored the opposition by two points on he year, 1,755 to 1,753. This marks the first time this season that UCSB has held a scoring advantage over its opponents. In the last nine games, UCSB has outscored the opposition by 51 points to pull itself into the black for the year.
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: 11-5
Where The Freshmen Stand
UCSB has received outstanding contributions from its freshmen this season. Three, Branduinn Fullove, Nick Jones and Jacoby Atako, have started more than half the season. Statistically, that trio is starting to make an imprint on the Gauchos freshman top-ten lists. Here is where they stand:
Player Total Rank Total Points
Branduinn Fullove 263 5th
Nick Jones 255 6th
Branduinn Fullove 12.0 2nd
Nick Jones 10.2 6th
Branduinn Fullove 109 8th
Nick Jones 107 9th
Branduinn Fullove 5.0 t-3rd
Nick Jones 4.3 6th
Nick Jones 94 t-5th
Branduinn Fullove 77 7th
Branduinn Fullove 86 1st
Nick Jones 51 t-5th
Jacoby Atako 77 3rd
Branduinn Fullove 72 5th
Jacoby Atako 16 10th
*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 11 times in 25 games.
*The Gauchos have committed more fouls than their opponents only eight times in 25 games 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 75 times in 125 opportunities, 60.0%.
*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 25 games this season.
*In their February 17 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 143 more three-pointers than the Gauchos this season.
*Last season, UCSB averaged 6.1 three-point baskets per game and they finished the season with a school-record total of 171. This year, they are averaging 5.1 per game.