Men's Basketball Welcomes UC Irvine Into The Thunderdome For Showdown For First-Place In The Big West

Feb. 28, 2003

Gauchos-Anteaters Meet In Key Big West Clash
The UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine basketball teams will meet on Saturday, March 1 at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara at 7:00 p.m. The Gaucho-Anteater game will go a long way in determining the Big West Conference regular season champion. UCI will bring a 12-4 league record and a seven-game winning streak into the game. In addition, the Anteaters bring a half game lead over the Gauchos into the matchup. UCSB is 11-4 in the Big West.

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters Saturday's Big West game against UC Irvine with an overall record of 14-12 and a Big West Conference mark of 11-4. The Gauchos are one-half game behind UC Irvine in the battle for first-place in the Big West.

Gauchos Bounce-Back With Win Over Long Beach
UCSB bounced-back from a pair of losses last weekend with a decisive 70-46 home win over Long Beach State on Thursday night. After falling behind 6-0 in the opening minute of the game, the Gauchos went on a 17-3 run to take a 17-9 lead, never looking back. UCSB led by 16 at halftime and opened the second half with a three-pointer to take a 19-point edge. The 49ers rallied to pull to within eight points, 47-39 with 12:34 to go, but they never got closer as the Gauchos ended the game on a 23-7 run to win going away. UCSB, which had lost a heartbreaking 68-67 game at Long Beach on February 1, was led by junior guard Branduinn Fullove with 11 points. Senior forward Mark Hull scored ten, all in the first half. Nick Jones added eight and Bryan Whitehead had seven points and seven rebounds. Finally, after allowing their two opponents last weekend to shoot better than 50.0%, the Gauchos limited Long Beach State to 17-of-45 shooting from the field, 37.8%.

Dome, Sweet Dome
UCSB enters its game against UC Irvine on Saturday with a home record of 9-2 and a Big West home winning streak of six. The Gauchos have recorded home wins over San Francisco, USC, UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge, Pacific, Cal Poly, Utah State, Idaho and Long Beach State this season. Their average margin of victory in those nine games is an impressive 15.7 points. UCSB's home losses this year have come against Cal State Fullerton, 57-55 in overtime, and Detroit, 75-59. Last year, the Gauchos recorded a 10-2 record at the Thunderdome and dating back to the 2000-01 season, they have won 22 of the last 26 games at home, 84.6%. Last Saturday's loss to Detroit was the Gauchos' first non-conference home loss since December 9, 2000 when they dropped a 75-73 decision to USC.

The Gauchos And Anteaters
UCSB and UC Irvine have played 55 times dating back to 1968. With their win at Irvine on January 30, the Gauchos hold a 33-22 advantage in the series. UCSB has won the last two games, including a victory in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals last season. The Anteaters swept the regular season series last year, including an 81-70 win in Santa Barbara.

Seniors Play Final Home Game At Thunderdome
Three UCSB seniors will be playing ther final home games at the Thunderdome against the Anteaters. Actually, two will be playing and one will be on the bench with a knee brace. Forwards Mark Hull and Bray Skultety, and guard B.J. Ward will be honored before the game. Hull is the Gauchos' second all-time leading scorer. He enters the game against UCI with 1,488 points and needs just 12 points to joine Carrick DeHart as the only UCSB players ever to hit the 1,500 point mark. In addition, Hull is the Gauchos' all-time leader in three-point baskets with 207. Since redshirting his first year in Santa Barbara, Hull has started all 113 games that UCSB has played over the past four years. Barring injury, he will become the first player in school history to lead the team in minutes played in four straight seasons. Ward has both started and come off the bench in his career. This season, he has come off the bench. As a sophomore, he led the Gauchos in steals and he has been one of the team's most dependable defenders. Skultety, a walk-on, was one of UCSB's most surprising players in last year's march to the NCAA Tournament. He was one of the team's best rebounders and one of the top sparks off the bench. Just prior to this season, he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and was forced to the sidelines.

The Williams File
Bob Williams is in his fifth season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. Last year, he guided the Gauchos to a 20-11 overall record and an 11-7 mark in Big West Conference play. It was the school's first 20-win season since 1992. Most importantly, however, Williams led UCSB to its first Big West Conference Tournament Championship ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. Williams' teams have posted a 76-65 overall record and a 52-28 record in Big West games. In 1998-99, his first year, the Gauchos went 15-13 overall and 12-4 in the Big West, winning the league's Western Division championship. That year, they closed the campaign by going 15-5 and Williams was selected Big West Coach of the Year. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, he spent eight years at UC Davis and in those eight years his teams had a 158-76 record and in 1997-98, Williams' final season, they went 31-2, and won the NCAA Division II title. Williams has a record of 265-165 at four-year schools.

Turning Over A New Leaf, Not Much Else
UCSB had just nine turnovers against Long Beach on Thursday. It marked the eighth time this season the Gauchos had turned the ball over less than ten times. UCSB has had fewer than ten in five of the last eight games and over that span the Gauchos have averaged just 9.5 turnovers per game. By the same token, opponents have averaged 13.3 over the last eight.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has made a three-pointer in four straight games.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Has led UCSB in scoring in eight of last 12.
G - Nick Jones - Has made 17-of-28 FGs over last four, 60.7%.
F - Casey Cook - Six rebounds vs. LBSU was his most in 11 games.
F - Mark Hull - Needs just 12 points to hit 1,500 career points.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Five points vs. LBSU was his Big West high.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Has played nine or more minutes in 14 of last 15.
G - Josh Davis - 21 steals is sixth highest freshman total ever at UCSB.
G - Cecil Brown - Has made seven of last 12 three-pointers, 58.3%.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Has made 17-of-26 from field in last ten, 65.4%.
F - Scott Rainey - Has scored three points in 16 appearances.
F - Derek Wheeler - Made a free throw vs. CSUN, his only point.

Balancing Act
In Thursday win over Long Beach State, the key word for the Gauchos was balance. UCSB's leading scorer was Branduinn Fullove with 11 points, but he was one of nine players who tallied five or more in the victory. In addition to Fullove's 11, Mark Hull had ten, Nick Jones scored eight, Casey Cook, Jacoby Atako, Cecil Brown and Bryan Whitehead each added seven, Josh Davis had six and B.J. Ward scored five. On the rebounding front, while UCSB outrebounded the 49ers by a 37-21 count, they were led by Whitehead who had seven. Overall, five UCSB players had four or more rebounds. In addition to Whitehead's seven, Cook had six, and Hull, Fullove and Jones each added four.

Big Wins, Marginal Defeats
Of UCSB's four Big West Conference losses, one has been by a large margin. On January 11, the Gauchos dropped a 16-point game, 75-59, at Utah State. The other three have come by narrow margins. The Gauchos dropped a 57-55 overtime loss to Cal State Fullerton on January, a 68-67 heartbreaker to Long Beach State on February 6 and then a 66-63 decision at Cal Poly on February 20. On the other side of the coin, Santa Barbara's 11 league wins have come by comfortable margins. The Gauchos have posted wins, in order, of 16, nine, 18, 15, nine, 16, 12, eight, ten, nine and 24 points. The average margin of victory in Big West games has been 13.3 points and the average margin of defeat, including the 16-point loss at Utah State, has been 5.5 per game. In fact, of UCSB's 14 wins this season, ten have come by margins of ten points or more and the other three came by margins nine, nine and eight points.

In Defense Of The Gauchos
Overall, UCSB is now allowing opponents to shoot 42.0%. After allowing last weekend's opponents to shoot a combined 58.1%, the Gauchos bounced-back with a solid performance against Long Beach State on Thursday. UCSB held the 49ers to 37.8%. The Gauchos are now allowing Big West opponents to shoot just 40.7%. Last weekend's games marked the fourth and fifth time that Santa Barbara opponents had made 50.0% or better and the Gauchos are a perfect, or not-so-perfect, 0-5 in those games. UCSB has held four of its last seven opponents below 40.0% shooting. Overall, 12 of UCSB's 26 opponents have shot below the 40.0% barrier, including nine of 15 Big West opponents. The Gauchos have won all nine league games in which their opponent has made fewer than 40.0% of its shots. In 15 league games, opponents are shooting 40.7% from the floor, a statistic that also leads the Big West. In the last 11 Big West games, nine of which have been wins, Gaucho opponents are shooting a combined 39.0%. In the two losses over the last ten league games, a one-point defeat at Long Beach State and a three-point defeat at Cal Poly, the opponents made a combined 44-of-82 shots, 53.7%.

Free Throw Upswing
Early in the season, UCSB struggled at the free throw line. That has not been the case in recent games. The Gauchos are shooting 73.3% overall from the line, 75.7% in Big West games. In its last seven games, UCSB has made 109-of-133 from the charity stripe, 82.0%. Several players have also come on strong lately. Mark Hull has hit his last 28 free throws in a row to improve his overall free throw percentage to 79.4% and his Big West percentage to a team-best 86.0%. Casey Cook has made 21 of his last 23 attempts, 91.3%, pushing his overall percentage fo a season-best 70.9% and his Big West mark to 78.0%. Branduinn Fullove has drained 21 of his last 24, 87.5%, and he is now shooting 80.9% overall and 83.9% in league games. Jacoby Atako has hit 12-of-14, 85.7%, and he is now shooting 76.2% overall, Nick Jones has made 38 of his last 45, 84.4%, improving to 77.4% overall. Finally, Josh Davis has made seven of his last eight to improve his mark to 78.1%. Incidentally, for the first time this season, the Gauchos have edged past their opponents in free throw percentage, 73.3% to 72.9%.

Leading For Good
In the Gauchos 11 Big West Conference victories, they have not trailed in the second half. Once, in a win at the University of Idaho, they were tied late in the second half, but they never fell behind.

Mark Hull
Hull, who was selected Second Team All-District 15 by the NABC, remains second on the team in scoring at 13.0 points per game....On Thursday night he made 3-of-7 shots from the field and scored ten points...He has struggled with is shooting recently. In the last nine games, Hull has made 22-of-75 shots from the field overall, 29.3%...In the game at Cal Poly on February20, Hull was 0-for-5 from three-point range, snapping a streak of 15 straight games with at least one three-point basket...He has had three-pointers in each of the last two games, going 3-of-12 in those games...Hull has scored in double-figures in three of the last four games...In the last six games, he has made just 6-of-34 from beyond the three-point arc, 17.6%...Still, Hull leads the Gauchos in three-point baskets with 60, the fifth-best single-season total in school history...He now has 207 for his career, a UCSB school record...Hull's total of 1,488 points ranks second on the school's all-time list and with 12 more points, he stands to become just the second player in school history to eclipse the 1,500 point mark...Hull has made at least one three-point basket in 24 of 26 games this season and two or more 18 times...He made a season-high five three-pointers in games against Bucknell and Cal State Fullerton...Scored a season-high 23 points in the season-opener against Weber State...While his field goal percentage has dipped to a season-low 43.9% overall and 39.7% from three-point range, he has had a recent surge at the free throw line, making 28 in a row and improving to 79.4% overall...He has not missed a free throw since a January 30 game at UC Irvine...Hull leads the team in rebounds at 4.9 per game and he has had four or more in seven of the last nine games...His season-high 11 rebounds came on January 25 against Cal Poly...Had a double-double on January 25 against Cal Poly, going for 18 points and 11 rebounds...Hull has played a team-leading 880 minutes and has gone 30 or more in 24 of 26 games...He played a season-low 27 minutes in Thursday's win over Long Beach State, snappin a streak of 21 consecutive games in which he played at least 30 minutes...Stands to become the first player in school history to lead the team in minutes played in four consecutive seasons...Has started all 113 games in his career.

Branduinn Fullove
Fullove remains UCSB's leading scorer at 15.0 points per game...Scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field in Thursday's win over Long Beach State...Suffered a concussion 58 seconds into UCSB's February 13 game at Pacific and missed the remainder of that contest...In four games since his return, Fullove has led the team in scoring three times...Including the game against Pacific when he was scoreless, he has been in double-figures 11 times in the last 13 games, leading the team in scoring eight times over that span...At the end of January and beginning of February, in consecutive games against UC Irvine, Utah State and Long Beach State, Fullove scored 22, 20 and 21 points, the first time in his career that he had scored 20 or more in three straight games...Has scored in double-figures 20 of his 24 games, going for 20 or more five times...Scored a season-high 23 in a December 3 win over USC...Ranks second on the team in three-pointers with 39, and he has made at least one in ten consecutive games in which he has played more than 58 seconds...In addition to the concussion game, he missed a pair of games at the beginning of the Big West schedule with a strained groin, he missed two weeks of practice during the preseason with a sprained ankle, he was limited last weekend because of a bruised thigh and on Thursday night, he left the game in the first half with a bruised knee...Fullove did return against the 49ers...Averaging 3.3 rebounds per game and has had five or more six times, including a season-high eight on January 18 against Pacific...Had season-high six assists in opener against Weber State...Also leads the Gauchos in free throw percentage at 80.9%, making 21 of his last 24, 87.5%...Now ranks sixth in UCSB history with 125 three-pointers and 16th with 1,088 career points.

Bryan Whitehead
Whitehead is averaging 3.2 points and a season-high 4.0 rebounds per game...He has had four or more rebounds in each of the last seven games, and five ormore in six of the last eight, averaging 7.0 per game over that span...Whitehead pulled down a season-high 11 rebounds on February 6 against Utah State...Had one of his best games in Thursday's win over Long Beach, making all three of his shots, scoring seven points, grabbing seven rebounds and passing off for a season-high three assists...He has gone 17-of-26, 65.4%, in the last ten games...Has improved his overall field goal percentage to a team-leading 51.6%...He is also the only Gaucho who has ten or more blocked shots (12) and ten or more steals (12) on the season...Whitehead had a career-high three blocked shots on November 24 against Centenary.

Chrismen Oliver
Oliver scored had two points and one assist on Thursdaynight...He has played eight or more minutes in all 15 Big West games...While Oliver is shooting 39.5% overall, he is at 43.8% from three-point range...Seven of his eight baskets are three-pointers...Tallied a season-high eight points and five assists on December 10 at Cal...He has had three or more assists seven times this year.

B.J. Ward
Ward had five points in Thursday's win over Long Beach, his highest total in a Big West game this season...Attempted a season-high five shots and made his first three-pointer since December 27 against Nebraska.

Nick Jones
Jones is third on the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game and he is second in rebounding at 4.5 per game...Since leading the Gauchos with 18 points in last week's loss at Cal Poly, he has scored in single-digits in back-to-back games, including eight points in 22 minutes against Long Beach State on Thursday...The 18 points he scored at Cal Poly was the most points Jones had scored since he went for 20 in back-to-back games to open the season, November 22 and 23 against Weber State and Jacksonville State...In the last five games, Jones has made 22-of-39 shots overall, 56.4%...While he is second on the team in rebounding, he has had just six total rebound in the last four games...On February 13 at Pacific, he had eight rebounds, his highest total since going for nine on December 7 at Pepperdine...Had a season-high ten rebounds, posting a double-double with 16 points, on November 30 against San Francisco...Jones is shooting 48.7% on the season overall and a team-leading 40.4% from beyond the three-point arc...Was 1-of-3 from three-point range on Thursday...In the last eight games, Jones is 7-for-22 from three-point range, 31.8%, and 24-of-36 from two-point range, 66.7%...He has now made 94 career three-pointers, the eighth-highest total in school history...With eight points on Thursday, Jones passed the 900 career point mark...He has now scored a career total of 903...Finally, Jones has made 31-of-37 free throws over the last 11 games, 84.0%.

Jacoby Atako
Atako had one of his best games of the season on Thursday against Long Beach State, making 3-of-4 shots from the field, scoring seven points, passing off for five assists and coming-up with a pair of steals...On February 20 at Cal Poly, he made all four of his field goal attempts, including a three-pointer, finishing with a season-high 11 points, two assists and a season-high four steals...Now averaging 5.1 points per game, the first time this year he has been over the 5.0 mark...In his last four games, Atako has made 10-of-19 shots overall, 52.6%, and 4-of-8, 50.0%, from three-point range...In the last four games, he has averaged 7.0 points per game...Atako has made one three-point basket in each of the last four games, the first time in his career that he has made a three-pointer in four successive games...Also, Atako has at least one steal in eight straight games, two or more in five straight and three or more in three of the last eight...Has had 13 steals in the last five games...Leads the team in assists (3.3 per game) and steals (34)...With 88 career steals, he needs just two to catch former Gaucho Brian Shaw for tenth on the school's all-time list...His 295 career assists ranks him eighth all-time.

Casey Cook
Cook is averaging 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game...Scored seven points and had six rebounds in Thursday's win over Long Beach State...The six rebounds was Cook's highest total since he had seven in a home win over Cal State Northridge on January 16...In his last five games, he has made 9-of-17 shots from the field, 52.9%...The current five-game stretch has come on the heels of a five game stretch in which he made just 5-of-26 shots from the floor, 19.2%...Cook scored a career-high 16 points on November 24 against Centenary...He has been in double-figures four times this season, but he has gone ten straight games in single-digits...While he is shooting 70.9% from the free throw line, in the last 13 games he has made 29-of-35 from the line, 82.9%...His six-rebound performance on Thursday marked the seventh time this season that Cook had produced five or more boards...After coming off the bench to open the season, he has started all 15 Big West Conference games and each of the last 17 in a row.

Cecil Brown
Brown is averaging 5.6 points and 1.9 rebounds per game...He had seven points and a pair of rebounds in Thursday's win over Long Beach State...In the last two games, he has averaged 8.5 points per game and made 6-of-12 shots from the field, 50.0%...Brown has shown flashes of offensive brilliance this season...On February 13 at Pacific, with Fullove sidelined with a concussion, he had a career-high 16 points in just 21 minutes to lead the team to a win...Brown has scored ten or more five times this year...He has also had four or more rebounds six times...Also ranks fourth on the team with 20 three-point baskets and he has made at least one three-pointer in 12 games and two or more five times...Last Saturday, in a loss to Detroit Mercy, Brown made three three-point baskets, tying his career high...He has also made three three-pointers against Weber State and Pepperdine.

Josh Davis
Davis is averaging 3.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per game, and he ranks third on the team with 21 steals...Had six points and three rebounds in Thursday's win over Long Beach State...Davis had probablyhis best all around game on February 13 at Pacific when he had seven points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals...On January 2, in a win over UC Riverside, he made all five of his field goal attempts and scored a career-high 14 points...That was Davis' only double-figure scoring effort of the year, but he has emerged as one of the best defensive players on the team...While he has 21 steals, 18 have come in the last 16 games...He has had two or more steals six times and he had a season-high three twice...His 21 steals to this point rank as the sixth most by a freshman in UCSB history...Also, while Davis is averaging just 1.9 rebounds per game, he has averaged 2.5 per game over the last 14 outings...Finally, Davis has made seven of his last eight free throws to improve to 78.1%.

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