Gauchos Take Aim at First Round Bye in Big West Tournament, Host UC Irvine and Long Beach State to Complete Regular Season
March 2, 2004
Game No. 26
Thursday, March 4, 2004 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Irvine Anteaters
at UCSB's Thunderdome (6,000)
Radio: KTLK 1340 AM
TV: College Sports Television (CSTV)
Play-by-Play: Carter Blackburn
Color Announcer: Craig Ehlo
Game No. 27
Saturday, March 6, 2004 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Long Beach State 49ers
at UCSB's Thunderdome (6,000)
Radio: KTLK 1340 AM
UC Santa Barbara enters the week with an overall record of 14-11 and a Big West record of 8-8. The Gauchos lost a 63-60 decision at UC Riverside on Saturday night and they have now lost five of their last seven games.
UCSB Enters Final Weekend In Fourth-Place
UCSB enters the final weekend of Big West play in fourth-place in the league standings. The Gauchos are one half game behind Idaho as the final weekend begins. The Vandals host Utah State on Friday night. UCSB cannot finish any lower than fifth-place and one win on the weekend would guarantee at least a fourth-place finish and a bye in the first round of the Big West Tournament
Four Seniors Play Final Home Games, Five Say Good-bye
In Saturday night's home finale against Long Beach State, four UCSB seniors will play their final home game and a fifth will also be saluted. Guards Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako and Nick Jones, and forward Bryan Whitehead will play their final home games. Forward Bray Skultety, who injured his knee on February 14 and will not play again this season will also be saluted. Skultety, who was in his sixth year, will actually be saluted for the second time. He was recognized as a senior last year as well. Fullove, Atako and Jones have been a cornerstone of two postseason teams for the Gauchos and they are among the all-time leaders in several career statistical categories.
Gauchos Drop Road Finale At UC Riverside, 63-60
UCSB closed out its road schedule on Saturday with a 63-60 loss at UC Riverside. The game marked the first time that the Gauchos have lost to the Highlanders in a Big West Conference game. UCSB trailed by five points at halftime, cut the lead to one on several occasions, but could never tie the score or take the lead. Riverside was paced by center Vili Morton who had 19 points. Nate Carter had 15 points and nine rebounds. The Gauchos, who committed 17 turnovers, had four players score in double-figures. Cecil Brown scored 15 points, Casey Cook had 14 and a team-high six rebounds, Jacoby Atako continued his recent offensive surge with 12 points and Branduinn Fullove added 11 points. As a team, UCSB struggled with its shooting, making just 19-of-51 shots from the floor, 37.3%.
Possible Starters - Notes
G - Cecil Brown - Has averaged 16.0 points per game and made seven three-pointers in the last two.
G - Jacoby Atako - Has made six three-point baskets in the last four games.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Has scored in double-figures in five straight games, a season-high.
F - Cameron Goettsche - Tied his career-high with three steals at UCR.
F - Casey Cook - Has averaged 14.5 points in the last two games.
Possible Reserves - Notes
G - Nick Jones - Has gone scoreless in 21 total minutes over the last two games.
G - Joe See - Logged just 19 total minutes in the last two games after being poked in the eye at CSUF.
G - Josh Davis - Had four rebounds in just 11 minutes at UCR.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Played 43 minutes in the last two games after playing 29 in the previous seven.
F - Bray Skultety - Reinjured his left knee in February 14 win over Cal Poly. Out for the season.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Played a total of just 26 minutes in the last two games.
F - Glenn Turner - Played five minutes at Riverside after sitting out game at Fullerton with sore back.
F - Derek Wheeler - Has yet to play in a game this season.
F - David Kennedy - Has played in nine total games this season.
The Gauchos have a 35-22 lifetime advantage over UC Irvine. UCSB won the first game between the schools this season, 84-77 at Irvine on January 4. The Gauchos have posted five consecutive wins over the Anteaters dating back to the Big West Conference Tournament following the 2001-02 season. UCSB and Long Beach State have played 93 times with the 49ers holding a 44-49 advantage. In the Big West opener this season, on January 3, Long Beach came from 21 behind in the second half to beat UCSB 63-62. The last time the teams met in Santa Barbara, February 27, 2003, the Gauchos posted a 70-46 win.
UCSB At Home
On February 19, UCSB had its five-game home winning streak snapped in a 61-58 loss to Pacific. The Gauchos are now 8-2 at the Thunderdome this season. In addition to the loss to Pacific, UCSB dropped a 74-67 game to Utah State. The wins have come against Pepperdine, Westmont, San Diego, Idaho, Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly. Last year, UCSB posted a 10-2 record at the Thunderdome. In 2001-02, the Gauchos also posted a 10-2 home record. The 10-2 mark that Santa Barbara has recorded each of the past two seasons is the best home mark for the program since the 1989-90 team went 11-2. Dating back to the end of the 2000-01 season, the Gauchos have gone 30-6 at home over the last 36 games.
The Williams File
Bob Williams is in his sixth season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. Last year, he guided the Gauchos to an 18-14 overall record and a 14-4 mark in Big West Conference play. The Big West mark earned Santa Barbara its first-ever regular season championship along with a postseason trip to the National Invitation Tournament. In addition, the success earned Williams his second Big West Coach of the Year award, his first coming after an impressive 1999 campaign. In 2001-02, Williams led UCSB to its first Big West Conference Tournament Championship ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. In his five-plus seasons in Santa Barbara, Williams' teams have posted an 94-76 overall record and a 63-34 record in Big West games. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, he 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' 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 a record of 283-176 at four-year schools.
Skultety Reinjures Left Knee
Senior forward Bray Skultety reinjured his left knee in the second half of UCSB's February 14 game against Cal Poly. Skultety, who sat out the 2002-03 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the left knee, has suffered the same injury and will be lost to the team for the remainder of the 2003-04 season. The 6-foot-6 Skultety was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA to take part in this season. He also missed the 1999-2000 season with an eye injury. When he was injured, Skultety had played in 21 games this season with averages of 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He accumulated his stats despite playing just 12.1 minutes per outing.
The Underclass Makes Its Mark
Entering the 2003-04 season, it would have been easy to assume that UCSB would be dominated by its seniors. The Gauchos were expected to start four seniors and a fifth was expected to play a key role off the bench. Well, as the season winds down, the seniors are still making some key contributions, but it is the underclassmen who are fueling things. While senior Branduinn Fullove leads the team in scoring at 10.9 points per game, the next four spots are filled by one junior and three sophomores. Thursday night's win at Cal State Fullerton was the UCSB season in a nutshell. Sophomores Cameron Goettsche (18) and Cecil Brown (17) each scored a career-high with 18 and 17 points respectively and another sophomore, Josh Davis had his second-highest scoring game of the season with 12. In addition, juniors Casey Cook (15) and Chrismen Oliver (nine) combined for 24. In all the non-seniors combined for 75 of the team's 98 points. On Saturday at UC Riverside, Brown led the way with 15 and Cook had 14 and as a group, the non-seniors combined for 37 of the team's 60 points. On the year, the non-seniors have scored 995 of the Gauchos' 1,644 points, 60.5%.
By scoring 29 points in his last two games, junior forward Casey Cook has improved his scoring average on the season to 10.1 points per game. Cook rejoins Branduinn Fullove in the team's double-figure club. Fullove, who leads the team at 10.9 points per game, had been the only member for a few weeks and, in fact, the club had no members three weeks ago when Fullove and Cook were tied for the team-lead at 9.9 points per game. Fullove's recent surge of five straight double-figure scoring efforts, however, has put him solidly into double-figure territory. If his recent scoring emergence continues, Fullove could edge past the magic 11.2 points per game mark. Whey is 11.2 a magic mark? Well, it isn't really magical, but in 1993-94, former UCSB center Doug Muse led the team in scoring at 11.2 points per game, the lowest team-leading average in school history. In 2002-03, UCSB had three players who averaged 12.4 points per game or more. While UCSB has just two players averaging in double-figures, it does have seven players averaging 6.2 or more points per game and ten players averaging 3.5 or more per game. By contrast, last year's team had three players at or over 12.4 points per game, but nobody else on the team averaged more than 5.2 per outing.
Along with the scoring balance has come several scoring leaders. Cecil Brown paced the way in Saturday's loss at UC Riverside. The Gauchos have had seven different players lead the team in scoring this season and six of those players have led the way at least twice. Branduinn Fullove, Casey Cook, Cameron Goettsche, Cecil Brown, Joe See, Jacoby Atako and Nick Jones have led the way in scoring and only Atako has led just once. Last season, in 32 games, UCSB had four players lead the team in scoring and one of those, Brown, led one time.
For much of the season, UCSB was one of the top rebounding teams in the Big West Conference. Through 18 games overall, nine of which were Big West games, the Gauchos had outrebounded 14 opponents. The last seven games, however, have been a different story. UCSB has been outrebounded in four straight games and six times in the last seven outings. While the Gauchos still hold a +3.5 rebounding margin for the season, they have been outrebounded by an average of 3.4 rebounds per game in the last seven. In fact, it is no accident that the last time Santa Barbara won the battle of the boards was on February 14 when they outrebounded Cal Poly, 42-36. It was in the Cal Poly game that the team's best rebounder, Bray Skultety, reinjured his left knee. He has been out since.
Free Throw Inroads
Rebounds have recently become a sore subject with the Gauchos. Free throws have been a sore subject all season. As a team, UCSB is shooting 64.9%, a 10.0% decrease from last season. In the last two games, however, the Gauchos have improved a bit, hitting 71.1% at Cal State Fullerton and 71.4% at UC Riverside. It marks the first time in 13 games that UCSB has made better than 70.0% in consecutive games. Branduinn Fullove continues to lead the team in free throw percentage at 78.3%. UCSB has just three players making better than 70.0% from the line.
Senior guard Branduinn Fullove has seized the team-lead in scoring at 10.9 points per game. Fullove has scored in double-figures in five straight games, his longest such streak of the season. In the last five, he has averaged 13.8 points per game. In the last five games, he has made 20-of-39 shots from the field, 51.3%, and 5-of-13 from three-point range, 38.5%. Since scoring one point in a January 24 loss at Pacific, Fullove has played nine games and averaged 12.6 points per game and made 46.0% of his field goal attempts. Also, after struggling to get to the free throw line for much of the season, he has gone to the line 32 times in the last four games, easily his highest four-game total of the season. Fullove has made exactly six free throws in each of the last four games, going 24-of-32, 75.0%, over that span. Fullove enters Thursday's game against UC Irvine with a career total of 1,385 points, a figure that ranks him sixth on UCSB's all-time list. He needs 15 points to pass York Gross and move into fifth-place all-time. Fullove had a season-high six assists last Thursday at Cal State Fullerton and has had two or more in eight of the last ten games. He has a career total of 267 assists, ninth in school history. Fullove has made a career total of 156 three-point baskets, fifth on UCSB's all-time list. He scored a season-high 23 points on December 21 in a win over Alabama State.
Before fouling out, Casey Cook scored 14 points at UC Riverside on Saturday night. He scored 15 points last Thursday at Cal State Fullerton and he has now scored in double-figures in back-to-back games for the first time since doing so against UCLA and Kansas in mid-December. By scoring 29 points in the last two games, an average of 14.5 per game, Cook has increased his pushed his scoring average into double-figures for the first time since late January. His 10.1 per game average is second on the team to Fullove's 10.9. Although limited by foul trouble, Cook has played 109 minutes in the last four games, an average of 27.2 per game. He missed three games in late January after tearing a muscle in his right quadriceps. He has been back now for eight games and in the first five games, Cook played a total of 83 minutes, 16.6 per game. He has now played 25 or more in four straight. When he fouled out of the game at UC Riverside, it marked the second time this season that Cook had fouled out of a game, but the first time since November 30 against Southeast Missouri State. He has had at least four fouls in each of the last five games. In the last two games, Cook made 9-of-14 shots from the field, 64.3%, and 11-of-12 free throws, 91.7%. He is the only UCSB player, outside of Glenn Turner, shooting above the 50.0% mark and he is at 50.6%. Cook has scored in double-figures 11 times this year, nine times on the road. He has scored a career-high 16 points three times this season, once each against Hawaii, Kansas and Southeast Missouri State. In the game at Hawaii, he also collected a career-high 12 rebounds in posting the first double-double of his career. On the year, he is second on the team in rebounding at 4.9 per game and he has had five or more rebounds 11 times in 22 appearances, including three times in the last four games.
The struggles of Nick Jones continue in a big way. Since tying his season-high with 14 points at Cal State Northridge on February 21, Jones has gone scoreless in two consecutive games. In the last two contests, he has played a total of 21 minutes, missing his only field goal attempt, a three-pointer, and both of his free throw attempts. On the year, Jones is now averaging a season-low 6.3 points per game. This marks the first time in his career that he has gone scoreless in back-to-back games. In fact, in his last nine games, he has scored ten or more once and he has averaged 3.9 points per game. Jones missed the first eight games of the year as he served a suspension for competing in a summer league in Mexico that was not sanctioned by the NCAA. He tallied 12 points in his first game back, December 21 against Alabama State, but has done so just three times since. Notoriously one of the best two-point shooters on the Gaucho roster, his problems from inside the three-point arc have been particularly acute in recent games. Jones has hit just 7-of-27 two-point shots in the last nine games, 25.9%. Overall, he has really had his offensive problems in home games. All four of his double-figure efforts have come on the road and he has scored just 24 points in his seven home games, 3.4 per game. He has made just 8-of-33 field goal attempts at the Thunderdome, 24.2%. Despite his struggles, Jones has now scored 1,082 career points, 17th in school history.
Sophomore guard Cecil Brown is emerging as one of the most consistent players on the team. Although he continues to nurse a sore left ankle, Brown had two outstanding games on the road last week. In the double-overtime game at Cal State Fullerton, he had career-highs of 17 points, four three-point baskets and 44 minutes played. On Saturday, Brown led UCSB in scoring with 15 points. In the two games combined, he averaged 16.0 points and 37.0 minutes while making 11-of-20 shots from the field overall, 55.0%, and 7-of-10 from three-point territory, 70.0%. Brown now ranks third on the team in scoring at 8.0 points per game. He has scored in double-figures ten times, including three times in the last five games. Interestingly, Saturday night's loss at UC Riverside marked the first time this season that UCSB has dropped a game in which Brown scored ten or more points. With seven three-point baskets in the last two games, he has now drilled 24 on the season, second on the team, and he has improved his three-point percentage to 40.7%, a season-best. Finally, while much of the rest of the team has had its problems with turnovers, Brown has been one of the team's most sure-handed players. He has 24 turnovers in 541 minutes, one every 22.5 minutes of action. He has committed just seven turnovers in his last ten games, a span of 215 minutes and an average of one every 30.7 minutes.
Senior guard Jacoby Atako is playing his best basketball of the past four games. The senior, who has come off the bench in all but one of the past six games, is averaging 6.2 points , 2.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game overall, but in the last four games, he is averaging 10.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game. In addition, while he is shooting a career-best 47.5% from the field and 41.7% from beyond the three-point arc, Atako has made 13-of-23 overall, 56.5%, and 6-of-12 from three-point distance, 50.0%, in the last four. On Saturday at UC Riverside, Atako scored 12 points for the second time in four games and he added four assists and a pair of steals. He now has a career total of 370 assists and 125 steals, figures that rank him seventh and third on UCSB's all-time lists. Atako needs six assists to pass Brian Shaw and move into sixth-place all-time.
Sophomore guard Joe See was whacked in the nose in last Thursday's game at Cal State Fullerton. He did not return to that game, playing just nine minutes and scoring four points. On Saturday, he played just ten minutes and was scoreless. See is averaging 7.5 points per game, fifth on the team. Despite going without a three-point basket in the last two games, he has nailed a team-leading 42 on the season. In fact, See has missed both of his three-point attempts in the last two games and for the first time this year, he has gone consecutive contests without a three-point bucket. Before his abbreviated appearance against the Titans on Thursday, he had made at least one three-pointer in seven straight games. He has made at least one three-point basket in 19 of 25 games. In fact, See has hit two or more three-pointers 12 times, three or more seven times and a carer-high five twice, against Cal State Fullerton and Utah State. When he nailed five three-pointers against Cal State Fullerton on January 31, he scored a career-high 21 points. On February 14 against Cal Poly, See logged a career-high seven assists.
Cameron Goettsche continues to play with a fractured right thumb and the last two games have been a big-time rollercoaster. In Thursday's game at Cal State Fullerton, he scored a career-high 18 points and had seven rebounds. He made 4-of-7 shots from the field and 9-of-12 free throws. In addition, Goettsche hit a long three-point basket near the end of the first overtime that helped push the game into a second OT. On Saturday at UC Riverside, he made just 1-of-6 shots and had two points and three rebounds in 24 minutes. He did tie his career-high with 23 steals. On the year, Goettsche is now averaging 8.0 points per game, tied for third on the team, and a team-leading 5.4 rebounds. He also paces the team with ten blocked shots and his 23 steals ranks second. Despite making just 1-of-6 shots from the field, Goettsche is still second among Gaucho regulars at 48.7% shooting. He has had a career-high 11 rebounds twice this year, including February 14 against Cal Poly when he had the first double-double of his career with 12 points to go with his 11 boards. Goettsche has now scored in double-figures ten times this year, including nine times in 16 Big West games. He is shooting 53.3% in league play.
Sophomore guard Josh Davis road quite a rollercoaster on last weekend's road trip as well. In the double-overtime win over Cal State Fullerton, he came off the bench to score 12 points, hitting 5-of-7 shots, before fouling out. In the loss at Riverside, he missed all three of his field goal attempts and went scoreless. Davis is averaging 4.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game on the season. His 12-point total at Fullerton was his second-highest total of the season (he had 13 at UCLA) and the third-best total of his career.
Senior forward Bryan Whitehead is averaging 3.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He is third on the team in rebounding and he has had three or more rebounds in 22 of 25 games. He has played a total of just 26 minutes in the last two games, posting a total of two points and four rebounds. He had a season-high nine rebounds on January 29 against UC Riverside. Whitehead is one of two UCSB regulars to have more rebounds (115) than points (96).
Senior forward Bray Skultety suffered an injury to his left knee in a February 14 win over Cal Poly. He will miss the remainder of the season. He is one of the team's emotional leaders and statistically, he was the team's best rebounder, averaging 4.0 per game in just 12.1 minutes per outing. In addition, he was averaging 3.5 points per game and shooting 54.7% from the field, including 58.0% in his last 19 games.
Sophomore forward Glenn Turner has become a regular in UCSB's rotation, but returned on Saturday after missing the Cal State Fullerton game with a sore back. In five minutes against UC Riverside, he had a pair of rebounds. On February 21 at Cal State Northridge, Turner made both of his field goal attempts and scored a career-high four points. He has made his last five field goal attempts and is now shooting 60.0% on the year. In his last nine games, a span that totals 61 minutes, Turner has had five blocked shots and 20 rebounds.
After playing a total of 61 minutes in the first 14 Big West games an average of 4.4 per game, junior guard Chrismen Oliver played 43 in the last two, an average of 21.5 per game. On Saturday at UC Riverside, he made the first start of his career, played 19 minutes, scored six points, had two assists and a pair of rebounds. In the double-overtime win over Cal State Fullerton, Oliver played a career-high 24 minutes and tied his career-highs with nine points and three rebounds. He also blocked a shot. Of his 21 minutes against the Titans, 21 came in the second half and overtime. Oliver hit a pair of three-pointers to give him 12 on the season. He has now made a three-point basket in three straight games.