November 23, 2007

Gauchos Put Two-Game Winning Streak on the Line Saturday Against Montana State

Nov. 23, 2007

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The Schedule
Game No. 6
Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Montana State Bobcats
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Game No. 7
Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UNLV Runnin' Rebels
at UCSB's Thunderdome

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara is 4-1 on the season. The Gauchos opened the 2007-08 season by winning two out of its three games at the Basketball Travelers Classic in Palo Alto, Calif. UCSB defeated Northwestern State and Harvard before losing to the tourney host, Stanford. The Gauchos have opened the home portion of their schedule with back-to-back wins, defeating Cal Poly Pomona 75-56 and, most recently, San Francisco 74-69.

Devine Will Miss UCSB-Montana State Game
Junior forward Chris Devine, UCSB's second leading scorer at 14.2 points per game, will miss the Gauchos Saturday, Nov. 24 game against Montana State. Devine traveled to his native Alaska on Wednesday and will attend the funeral of a very close family friend on Saturday. He is expected to return on Sunday and be back at practice on Monday afternoon.

Harris Return Is A Good One
Senior guard Alex Harris returned to the UCSB lineup on Tuesday after missing the home opener against Cal Poly Pomona with an injured left thumb. While he had some trouble controlling the ball, particularly in the first half, the return was a successful one as Harris equaled his season-high with 27 points. He played much of the game with his the injured digit wrapped for protection, but he discarded the tape midway through the second half and went the rest of the way without it.

UCSB Ranked 22nd In Mid-Major Poll
After opening the 2007-08 season ranked 20th in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Poll and then dropping to 23rd in the second poll, UCSB has moved up one spot to 22nd in this week's poll.

Harris, Devine Pace Gauchos Past San Francisco, 74-69
Senior guard Alex Harris tied his season-high with 27 points, and junior forward Chris Devine scored a season-high 18, to lead UCSB past the University of San Francisco, 74-69 on Tuesday night. Senior Ivan Elliott made a three-pointer for the first basket of the game and the Gauchos never trailed. The Dons cut the gap to four points on a number of occasions in the second half, but with Harris and Devine combining for 14 of their final 15 points, the Gauchos held on for their second consecutive win. Harris made 7-of-12 shots overall and 4-of-7 from three-point range as UCSB overcame a season-high 23 turnovers. Senior forward Nedim Pajevic had the first double-double of his career with 10 points and 10 rebounds. While the Gauchos had 23 turnovers of their own, they also forced USF into 22.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Justin Joyner - Leads the Gauchos with 18 assists through five games.
G - Alex Harris - Has scored 20 or more points in three of his four appearances.
G - James Powell - Scored a career-high 24 points in win over Cal Poly Pomona.
F - Nedim Pajevic - Had 10 points, 10 boards vs. USF, his first career double-double.
F - Ivan Elliott - Has made a three-pointer in four of five games.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Nick Quick - Made the first three-pointer of his career against Cal Poly Pomona.
G - Jordan Weiner - Has made 2-of-3 shots overall and from three-point range.
G - Paul Roemer - Has had his two highest scoring games ever in first five.
G - D.J. Posley - Scored season-high six points in win over USF.
G - George Murphy - Has yet to play in a game.
F - Chris Devine - Will miss the first game of his career against Montana State.
F - Sam Phippen - Has played in three of the five games.
F - Beau Gibb - Has 12 points in five games after scoring 15 all of last year.
F - Spencer Ford - Freshman forward will redshirt 2007-08 season.

The Bob Williams File
Bob Williams is in his 10th season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. Last year his team recorded an overall record of 18-11 and a Big West mark of 9-5. The 18 wins were the most regular season wins by a Gaucho team since 1991-92 and it equaled the second most wins a Williams-coached UCSB team has ever had. Williams has led Santa Barbara to winning records in five of the last six seasons, the only exception being a 2004-05 team that was ravaged by injuries. He has guided UCSB to a pair of postseason appearances. In 2002-03, the Gauchos went 18-14 overall and 14-4 in league. The 2002-03 Big West mark earned Santa Barbara its first-ever Big West regular season championship along with a trip to the postseason National Invitation Tournament. Additionally, 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 guided UCSB to its first Big West Conference Tournament title ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. Including this season, Williams' UCSB teams have posted a 144-123 (.539) overall record and an 86-59 (.589) 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 333-223 (.599) at four-year schools.

The Opposition
UCSB and Montana State have played seven times in a series that began in 1972. The Gauchos are a perfect 7-0 in the series against the Bobcats, including a resounding 88-56 win on Nov. 13, 2006, in Missoula, Mont. The 32-point margin in last season's game was the largest in the history of the series. UCSB and UNLV have played 34 times with the Runnin' Rebels holding a decisive 28-6 all-time advantage. The Gauchos, however, have won two straight and three out of the last five games between the schools. UCSB handed UNLV its only home loss of the 2006-07 season, a 79-76 decision at the Thomas & Mack Center on Nov. 17, 2006. The Rebels finished the year 19-1 at home, 30-7 overall and in the Sweet 16. The teams last met at the Thunderdome on Feb. 10, 1996, with Santa Barbara posting a 65-57 win.

The Gauchos At Home
With wins over San Francisco and Cal Poly Pomona, UCSB is 2-0 at the Thunderdome this season. Last year, the Gauchos struggled at home with an uncharacteristic 8-6 record. Conversely, they were 10-4 in true road games. Dating back to the 2006-07 campaign, UCSB has won four straight Thunderdome games.

Finally, A Close Game
At some point this season, UCSB was going to play in a close game and while Tuesday's win over San Francisco was not a heart-stopper, it was significantly closer than any of the first four games. The Gauchos defeated the Dons 74-69, a five-point margin. In the first four games, the closest was a 79-61 win over Harvard. UCSB beat its first three opponents by an average of 19.3 points per game, with the largest margin of 21 coming against Northwestern State. The Gauchos' sole loss came by 19 points, 67-48, to Stanford.

Sharing The Wealth
Santa Barbara has two players, Alex Harris and Chris Devine, averaging in double-figures. The Gauchos, however, have had six different players score 10 points or more through the first five games. Devine has scored in double-figures in all five games and Harris has done so in all four in which he has played. In addition, forward Nedim Pajevic has scored 10 or more in four of the five games while three others, James Powell, Ivan Elliott and Paul Roemer, have scored 10 or more one time apiece.

Spreading It Around
While only two players (Alex Harris and James Powell) have led the Gauchos in scoring this season, the same has not held true for the other statistical categories. UCSB has had eight players lead or tie for the team-lead in steals, six lead or tie for the team-lead in rebounding, five lead or tie for the lead in assists, and four have done so in blocked shots.

Turning Over A New Leaf
Probably the most important aspect of the defense being employed by UCSB this season is its tendancy for causing turnovers. In recent years, Gaucho teams have played good defense in the sense that they have generally limited opponents to low field goal and three-point percentages, and relatively low point totals. What UCSB's defense has not done, is force turnovers and thus create points from the turnovers. Through five games in 2007-08, that has changed. Santa Barbara's first five opponents have turned the ball over 105 times, an average of 21.0 per game. Interestingly, in 2006-07, the highest total of turnovers forced by UCSB was 21, by Pepperdine in a double overtime game. This season, three of the first five opponents have had 22 or more turnovers in a game and none has had fewer than the 16, the total that Stanford produced on Nov. 11. In the season opener, Northwestern State coughed-up 28 turnovers, a season-high. In 2006-07, Gaucho opponents averaged 13.4 turnovers per game and had 16 or more seven times in 29 games

The Turnover Story, Part Deux: Revenge Of The Turnover
There is another, more sinister side to the turnover story for UCSB. While the Gauchos are forcing more turnovers this season, they are also accumulating more on the offensive end. In Tuesday's win over San Francisco, Santa Barbara had a season-high 23 turnovers. It was the second time this season that the Gauchos have had at least 20 turnovers in a game, having also done so in the opener against Northwestern State. Last year UCSB had a season-high 27 turnovers in a double overtime win at Pepperdine, but averaged just 13.9 per game. This year, the Gauchos are averaging 17.0 per game, an increase of 3.1 per game.

If Only...
If UCSB could eliminate its loss to Stanford, and boy wouldn't that be a luxury, its stats would look pretty gaudy. In their four wins, the Gauchos have made 109-of-222 shots, 49.1%. Also, in the wins, they have made 29-of-72 from three-point range, 40.3%, and 73-of-89 from the free throw line, 82.5%. Finally, UCSB is averaging 80.0 points per game in wins.

The Harris Poll
After missing UCSB's home opener against Cal Poly Pomona with an injured right thumb, senior guard Alex Harris didn't waste any time returning to form, particularly on the offensive end. Harris was in the starting lineup against San Francisco and played 32 minutes. He made 7-of-12 shots overall, 4-of-7 from three-point range, and he equaled his season-high with 27 points. The 27 points also equaled the fourth-highest total of Harris' career. A Preseason All-Big West and Mid-Major All-America selection, the native of Alameda, Calif., is now averaging 24.0 points per game. He has scored 24 or more in three of his four performances this season, the only exception being an 18-point outing at Stanford, and he has led the team in scoring in every game in which he has played. Harris is also averaging 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, and after his solid shooting effort in the win over USF, he is now making 48.3% of his field goals overall and 38.1% from beyond the three-point arc. He has also shown a penchant for going to the free throw line this season. Harris attempted 11 free throws in the last game and, in his four games, he has attempted 38 free throws, 9.5 per game. In fact, with his 32 successful free throws, he is actually averaging 8.0 points per game from the free throw line alone. Finally, with 96 points thus far on the season, Harris has now scored 1,165 in his career, the 14th most in school history.

The Devine File
Junior forward Chris Devine will not play in Saturday's game against Montana State. He will be in Alaska to attend the funeral of a very close friend. It will mark the first game in his career that he has missed a game. Devine scored a season-high 18 points in his last game, a UCSB win over San Francisco. He is now averaging 14.2 points per game, a high for the season, and he has been the sole Gaucho player to eclipse double-figures in all five games this season. In fact, Devine, a Preseason All-Big West choice, has not scored fewer than 13 points in any game this year. Also, since starting the season by making just 3-of-8 shots in a win over Northwestern State, he has made 21-of-35 shots in the last four games, 60.0%. Devine has scored a total of 71 points and has moved past the 800 point mark for his career with 834. While his 3.8 rebounds per game is a decrease from his past numbers, part of it may be due to the fact that he is playing fewer minutes this year. Whether because of foul trouble or by design, the Eagle River, Alaska, native is averaging just 24.0 minutes per game this season. In 2005-06, he averaged 29.4 minutes per contest and last year he averaged 31.6 per game. This year, Devine has played more than 22 minutes just twice, including a season-high 32 on Tuesday against San Francisco. He has played 22 or fewer three times.

A Piece Of The Pajevic (Pronounced Pie-uh-vich)
Senior forward Nedim Pajevic has been better than advertised so far. A transfer from Weber State who sat out the 2006-07 season as a redshirt, Pajevic is averaging 9.8 points and a team-leading 5.8 rebounds per game. In Tuesday's win over San Francisco, he registered the first double-double of his career with 10 points and 10 boards. He made 3-of-5 shots from the field and 4-of-6 from the free throw line. In his last two games, Pajevic has averaged 10.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 blocked shots per game. In UCSB's home opener on Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona, he had five assists, equaling the highest total by a Gaucho this season. In fact, Pajevic has been a model of efficiency this year. He is leading UCSB in field goal percentage at 56.3% and free throw percentage at 85.7%. Perhaps most impressively, the native of Sarajevo, Bosnia, has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team with 11 assists (2.2 per game) and just one turnover (0.2 per game).

Old Buddy, Old Powell
After struggling with his offense through the first three games of the season, sophomore guard James Powell came alive in the win over Cal Poly Pomona. A native of Pomona, Powell missed his first field goal attempt of the game, but went on to make eight of his next 11, including four of his last six three-point attempts, to finish with a career-high 24 points. The four three-pointers tied a career-high. On Tuesday against USF, Powell scored just five points on 2-of-7 shooting overall and 1-of-5 from three-point range. While he scored 24 points in the win over Cal Poly Pomona, he has scored just 22 points in the other four games, 5.5 per game. Overall, Powell is still fourth on the team in scoring at 9.2 points per game and his seven three-point baskets rank second only to Alex Harris. He is also averaging 2.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, a figure that ranks tied for the second on the team.

Justin Time
With the exception of the game against Harvard, sophomore point guard Justin Joyner has struggled to find his offensive game thus far in 2007-08. In the game against Harvard, Joyner had nine points and made 4-of-6 shots, including his only three-point attempt. In the other four games combined, he scored six points, making 1-of-12 shots from the field. Joyner is playing with an injured right wrist, which has effected his shot. Despite the injury, which is taped up for each game, the Antioch, Calif., native leads the team in assists with 18. He has had four assists in each of the last two games, wins over San Francisco and Cal Poly Pomona. Joyner passed off for a season-high five assists on Nov. 9 in the season opener against Northwestern State. Even with his offensive problems, he is a key player for the Gauchos. In fact, Joyner has averaged 27.2 minutes per game, second on the team to Alex Harris. His 136 total minutes actually ranks first on the team since Harris missed a game.

Ivan The Good
Senior forward Ivan Elliott bounced back from a two-point game in the home opener against Cal Poly Pomona, with eight points, six rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot on Tuesday against San Francisco. Elliott fouled out of the game against the Dons, and played it with fingers on his right hand taped up, the result of having dislocated his middle finger on Nov. 15 against Pomona. Elliott is averaging 8.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and a team-high 1.2 blocks per game. He scored a career-high 17 points in the season-opener on Nov. 9 against Northwestern State, making 8-of-10 shots from the field. Although he is shooting 50.0% from the field, Elliott has hit 7-of-20 shots in the last three games, 35.0%. He has, however, made a three-pointer in four of the five games this season, including one against USF. Elliott has been the team's most consistent rebounder. Since collecting just three in game one, he has had at least five in each of the last four, including a season-high seven on Nov. 11 against Harvard.

Don't Roemer Alone
Sophomore guard Paul Roemer has worked his way into UCSB's regular rotation. Roemer, a walk-on from Concord De La Salle High School, played in spots as a freshman, but this year his role has expanded greatly. After playing 132 minutes in 16 games in 2006-07, an average of 8.3 per game, Roemer has already logged 86 minutes in five games this season, 17.2 per game. He has scored 18 points, 3.6 per game, just seven fewer than he scored during his freshman campaign. Actually, Roemer scored his 18 points in two games this season, going for a career-high 10 on Nov. 9 against Northwestern State, and for eight, his second-highest all-time total, on Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona. In addition, he had a career-high four assists in the win over Northwestern State and he has had two or more in four of the five games this season, averaging 2.0 per game. In Tuesday's win over San Francisco, Roemer had a pair of steals.

Strike A Posley
After scoring just five points in the first four games, junior guard D.J. Posley scored a season-high six points in Tuesday's win over San Francisco. Since beginning the year by missing nine shots in a row, Posley has hit five of his last eight, 62.5%, including 3-of-4 in the win over the Dons. Although he fouled out against USF, the native of Hazel Crest, Ill., also had a pair of steals. Posley, considered one of the team's best defensive players, now has seven steals to lead the team.

No Bee Gee, He
Remember the Bee Gees? The name stood for Brothers Gibb. Forget it. Junior forward Beau Gibb should play a key role in Saturday's game against Montana State. In the absence of Chris Devine, Gibb moves up in the frontline pecking order as the number three option. Gibb played a season-low five minutes against San Francisco, but he is averaging 10.2 minutes per game this season. He is also averaging 2.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. Gibb tied his UCSB-high with six points on Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona, and his five rebounds on Nov. 9 against Northwestern State was also a personal best. Gibb has also made half of his shots (4-of-8) and all of his free throws (4-of-4).

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