November 27, 2001

Men's Basketball Returns Home To Host Defending Mountain West Conference Champion BYU On Wednesday

Nov. 27, 2001

The Schedule
Game No. 4
Wednesday, November 28, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. BYU Cougars
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Game No. 5
Saturday, December 1, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos St. Mary's College Gaels
at UCSB's Thunderdome

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters Wednesday's game against Brigham Young University with a record of 2-1. After opening the season with back-to-back wins over Westmont College (51-42) and the University of San Francisco (69-49), the Gauchos dropped a 73-62 road decision at USC on Monday night.

Heartbreaking Loss At USC Drops Gauchos To 2-1
Can an 11-point loss really be considered a heartbreaker? For my purposes yes. UCSB lost a 73-62 decision at USC on Monday night, dropping to 2-1 on the season. The Gauchos led by 12-points (22-10) midway through the first half and by as many as eight (46-38) eight minutes into the second half. In fact, with 1:31 to go in the game, they still trailed by just four points at 66-62. However that dreaded combination of intentional fouls and made free throws helped to boost the Trojans' final margin of victory to 11, but it still felt like a heartbreaker when the final horn sounded.

UCSB Looks To Snap BYU Streak
UCSB and BYU will be meeting for the fifth time tonight. The Cougars hold a perfect 4-0 record against the Gauchos, including wins last season and in 1999-2000. Last year, UCSB lost a 67-53 decision in Provo, Utah. Terrell Lyday scored 21 points and Mekeli Wesley added 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Cougars. Also for BYU, point guard Matt Montague had nine points and seven assists, making all four of his field goal attempts. Mark Hull paced the Gauchos with 21 points, while B.J. Ward added ten points and seven rebounds. UCSB played last year's game without Branduinn Fullove who was suffering from a sprained ankle.

Scouting the Cougars
BYU enters tonight's game with a perfect 2-0 record. The defending Mountain West Conference champions opened the season with a win at the University of San Diego (70-59) and then on Saturday, they posted an 82-70 home victory over Arizona State. In the win over ASU, forward Mark Bigelow scored 31 points and now leads the Cougars with an average of 20.0 per game. Guard Travis Hansen had 18 points and 15 rebounds against ASU, and is now averaging 29.5 points and 11.5 boards per game. Forward Eric Nielsen is also averaging in double-figures at 13.5 points per game. Point guard Matt Montague is averaging 7.0 assists per contest. Finally, BYU is killing opponents in the rebounding category by a 39.5 to 28.5 margin.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his fourth season as head coach at UCSB. Last year he guided the Gauchos to a 13-15 overall record and a solid 9-7 mark in Big West play. In his first three-plus seasons, Williams has led the team to a 44-43 record. The 45 victories are the most by any UCSB coach over that period of time. In addition, the 42 wins in the first three campaigns were 12 more than the team had in the three seasons prior to his arrival. Each season under Williams, the Gauchos have progressively gotten better and better, playing their best basketball late in the season. In fact, in three years under his guidance, UCSB has logged a 31-17 record in Big West games, a winning percentage of .646, and among the top three in league over that span. 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. Two years ago, they went 14-14 overall, and 10-6 in league. In his career at four-year schools, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 233-142 (.621) record.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has averaged 8.0 points and 4.0 assists in the last two games.
G - Branduinn Fullove - His four three-pointers at USC were a career-high.
G - Mark Hull - Eight rebounds at USC were his highest total since freshman season.
F - Mike Vukovich - Foul troubles have limited him to 41 minutes in and seven points in three games.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Has performances of 14 and 13 rebounds in his first three games.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - Nick Jones - Has come off the bench in the first three games after finishing last year as a starter.
G - B.J. Ward - Has played 35 minutes and passed off for five assists in first three games.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Played one minute in each of the first two games. Did not play at USC.
G - Chris Newell - Played one minute at USF, his first career action.
F - Bray Skultety - Played two minutes at USF, his first career action.
F - Casey Cook - Has 14 rebounds in 43 minutes in last two games.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Played a season-low seven minutes in loss at USC.
F - J.J. Todd - Herniated disk in his back has him sidelined indefinitely.

UCSB Gets Defensive Early
In Monday night's loss at USC, the Gauchos allowed the Trojans to shoot 41.5% from the field, a figure that did not burn the nets at The Sports Arena, but the highest mark by a UCSB opponent this season. Overall, through three games, the Gauchos' defensive effort has been solid. In the opener against Westmont College, UCSB limited the Warriors to 13-of-53 from the field, a mere 24.5%. On Saturday, USF did Westmont exactly one better, going 14-of-53, 25.9%. In the three games combined, the Gauchos have seen their foes make just 54 field goals in 171 attempts, 31.6%. As for the numbers beyond the three-point stripe, those have been just as pretty good too. USC needed David Bluthenthal to go wacky in the second half (5-of-7 from three-point territory) to salvage a 36.0% mark for the game. At halftime of the USC game, Westmont, USF and the Trojans had combined to go 9-for-50, 18.0%. Even with the second half explosion by Bluthenthal, UCSB is still limiting their opponents to 23.0% from three-point range.

On The Rebound
After getting outrebounded 37-35 by Westmont, the Gauchos have bounced back with outstanding efforts on the boards at USF at USC. With their two frontcourt starters in foul trouble and playing against a much bigger USF team, UCSB outrebounded the Dons by a margin of 15, 43-28. Gaucho starters Mike Vukovich and Adama Ndiaye, limited to 13 and 17 minutes because of fouls, combined for just seven rebounds, but others picked up the slack. On Monday, with Vukovich in foul trouble again, Ndiaye played 33 minutes and had 13 rebounds, leading UCSB to a 40-37 rebound victory. Sophomore Casey Cook has been an important part of the Gauchos' rebounding comeback. Cook has picked up the slack for the foul-prone Vukovich, pulling down 14 rebounds in 43 minutes of action in the last two games. As a team, in fact, UCSB has had good rebounding balance with five players averaging five or more. Ndiaye is averaging 10.7 per game, Mark Hull is at 6.7, Branduinn Fullove is at 5.3 per game and Cook is averaging 5.0 per game.

Fullove Off To Fast Start
Guard Branduinn Fullove is off to a fast start in his sophomore season. He followed-up his season-opening 19 point effort against Westmont with a team-leading 22-point game at USF and then 14 points at USC. In three games, Fullove is averaging a team-high 18.3 points per game. Also in the three games, he has nailed 16-of-31 shots overall (51.6%), 8-of-14 from two-point range (57.1%) and 8-of-17 from three-point range (47.1%). Fullove's 22-point performance at USF tied the second highest output of his career (he also had 22 in road games at Boise State and Cal State Fullerton last year), while his seven rebounds tied his fourth best mark and his 35 minutes in each of the last two games equal his third highest total ever. In the loss to USC on Monday, Fullove made 4-of-8 shots from three-point range, a career-high. Finally, since starting the season by making just 3-of-6 free throws, he has made his last ten in a row to improve his mark on the year to 15-of-18, 83.3%. Incidentally, Fullove did not play in last year's game at BYU as he nursed a sprained ankle.

Steady Hull Reclaims His Leadership Role
Junior Mark Hull struggled offensively for the Gauchos in the opener against Westmont, making just 3-of-11 shots, in the last two games, however, he has found his stride. On Saturday at USF, Hull made 7-of-10 shots from the field, including his only three-point attempt, and scored 15 points. He scored 13 of his points in the decisive first half as the Gauchos piled up a nine-point halftime lead, a lead that never dropped below nine. On Monday at USC, he led the team in scoring for the first time this season, scoring 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting overall and 3-of-5 from three-point range. Hull also pulled down eight rebounds against the Trojans, the highest total since his freshman campaign and his third highest total ever. In Saturday's win at USF, Hull passed the 700 point mark for his career. Entering tonight's game against BYU, he now has 721 points.

Ndiaye Rebounds From Fractured Finger
Senior forward Adama Ndiaye is rebounding from the fractured finger that sidelined him last season, literally. While Ndiaye has had problems on the offensive end of the court (7.3 points per game and a 36.0% mark from the field), he has done a good job rebounding, recording two of his five best marks ever. In the opener against Westmont, he had 14 boards. Foul trouble limited Ndiaye to five rebounds in 17 minutes at USF, he bounced back with 13 rebounds at USC on Monday. He easily leads the Gauchos with an average of 10.7 rebounds per game. In addition to his rebound feats, Ndiaye's four blocked shots this season give him 77 in his career, the fourth highest total in school history.

Foul Bug Gets Vukovich Again
This is beginning to sound, or read, like a broken record, but here we go. Senior forward Mike Vukovich opened last season by fouling out of the four of the first five games. Well, the good news is that he has yet to foul out of a game this season, the bad news is that he has committed four fouls in each of the three games, limiting him to a total of 41 minutes (13.7 per game). Right now, it seems as though Vukovich gets whistled for a foul if he just changes his mind on the court. On Monday at USC, he played a season-high 15 minutes, scoring a season-high five points. In Saturday's win over USF, he had two fouls in the first four minutes and played a total of 13. He finished the game without scoring a point and he had just two rebounds. In the opener against Westmont, he was also bitten by the foul bug, committing two in the first couple of minutes and three in five minutes of the first half. In that game, Vukovich also played just 13 minutes, attempting and making his only shot. A Second Team All-Big West choice last season, he averaged 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the season. This season he has attempted just six shots in three games.

Atako Comes Of Age
Sophomore point guard Jacoby Atako is coming of age. He had his best game as a Gaucho in the win at USF (11 points and five assists) and in Monday's loss at USC, he had just five points and three assists, but he did a commendable job on Trojan senior Brandon Granville, who finished with 12 points, but made just 3-of-10 shots from the floor. Atako is averaging 5.3 points and 4.0 assists per game, and he is doing a good job of running the Gaucho offense, something he never seemed comfortable with last year. In addition, Atako has played 29 and 30 minutes in the last two games respectively, the third and fourth highest totals of his career.

Cook Fires Up
Sophomore forward Casey Cook sat out UCSB's exhibition games after spraining the thumb on his right (shooting) hand. He returned to active duty in the opener against Westmont, playing 14 minutes and scoring two points. Last week he sprained the same thumb and was questionable for the game at USF. Fortunately for the Gauchos, he played in that game and on Monday, recording two of his best games ever. With Vukovich and Ndiaye in foul trouble at USF, Cook was forced to play 22 minutes, and like Emeril Lagasse in the kitchen, this Cook came through too. He scored five points, but more importantly he collected a game-high eight rebounds, equaling the second highest total of his career. At USC, Cook played 21 minutes, pulling down six more rebounds and scoring eight points, the third highest total of his career.

Pepperdine Game Moved To 7:00 PM
UCSB's December 8 home game against Pepperdine, originally scheduled for 5:00 p.m. to accommodate television, has been moved to 7:00 p.m. Fox Sports Net, which was to televise the game originally has changed its schedule and will not be carrying the Gaucho-Wave clash.

On The Horizon
Following tonight's game against BYU, the Gauchos will play three straight games against West Coast Conference opponents. On Saturday, December 1, they host St. Mary's at 7:00 p.m. Next Wednesday, December 5, UCSB travels to Loyola Marymount for a 7:00 p.m. game, and then on Saturday, December 8, the Gauchos will host Pepperdine in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.