Dec. 3, 2003
Santa Barbara, Calif.- Tonight UC Santa Barbara plays its first home game of the 2003-04 season against visiting coastal rival Pepperdine. The Gauchos gladly return home after playing three road games, one in Hawaii and two in Montana. Santa Barbara defeated Hawaii to open up the season, but then lost both games at the Montana Holiday Classic, to return home with a 1-2 record. Pepperdine enters tonight's game with an overall mark of 1-3. The Waves lost their season opener to Dayton, then went on to beat Colorado. They have lost their last two games, one to Oklahoma State and most recently to Cal State Fullerton. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on KTMS 990 AM.
UC Santa Barbara Probable Starters
Leading the way for UC Santa Barbara will be senior point guard Jacoby Atako. Atako is one of two Gauchos scoring in double figures on the season, averaging 12.3 points per game. He has improved his outside game from previous years having connected in 4-of-7 three-pointers for a three-point percentage of .571, the best on the team. Alongside Atako will be sophomores Cecil Brown and Josh Davis. Brown is third on the team in scoring with eight points per game. He hasn't been shy with the ball, leading the team with 33 shots. Davis found his touch the last two games after an 0-for-8 performance to start the year. Against St. Mary's and Southeast Missouri State, Davis went 7-for-12 combined, and scored 16 points. He has also been one of the most important Gauchos defensively as he has been asked to guard the opposition's best forwards. Starting on the blocks for Santa Barbara will be sophomore Cameron Goettsche and junior Casey Cook. Goettsche has provided spark on the offensive end for the Gauchos on a couple of occasions, helping Santa Barbara fight back against Southeast Missouri with his first three-pointers of the season and adding a couple dunks as well. However, on the season he is averaging just 5.3 points while pulling down 4.3 rebounds per game. Cook has been the biggest contributor on offense for UCSB. The 6-foot-8 junior is leading the team with 15 points and eight rebounds per game. He is shooting 53% from the floor and is perfect from the free throw line having connected on 11-of-11 freebies.
Pepperdine Probable Starters
Starting in the backcourt for the Waves will be sophomore Alex Acker and freshman Shaun Davis. Acker, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, is averaging 12.3 points and 3.8 rebounds on the season. He led the team in the loss to Cal State Fullerton with 18 points. Alongside Acker will be Davis, a 5-foot-11 point guard from San Diego. Davis is averaging 14 points and six assists per game and is shooting 66.7% from the floor. On the blocks for Pepperdine will be 6-foot-9 juniors Robert Turner and Glen McGowan. Turner is scoring 6.5 points per game and leads the team with 4.3 rebounds per contest. McGowan is averaging 16.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Waves. In four games he has connected on 25-of-50 shots from the floor and 5-of-14 three-pointers. Starting at the center position will be another junior, Jesse Pinegar. Pinegar is scoring 9.8 points per game and is also grabbing 4.3 rebounds. The 6-foot-9 Salt Lake City native has connected on 8-of-13 shots from behind the arc to give him a .615 three-point percentage. His shooting percentage from the floor is .517. Terrance Johnson, an important part of the Pepperdine offense, will likely come off the bench tonight. Johnson is averaging 17 points per game and four rebounds.
Scouting the Gauchos
The key to tonight's game for Santa Barbara will be its ability to break the Pepperdine press. It starts with Atako, the floor general who has been through this drill for three solid years now and should be able to guide the Gauchos. However, without the normal duo of Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones complimenting Atako, this task may prove to be difficult. Once past half-court, Brown and Cook will be the go-to players offensively. The two have scored 28 of Santa Barbara's 66 baskets and lead the team with 33 and 32 shots apiece, respectively. Cook looks like a whole new player this year, after finishing last year with an average of 5.2 points per game. He has yet to miss a free throw this season and including the end of last year, he has connected on 23 straight. Aside from Cook and Atako, the Gauchos have been struggling offensively. Indeed the team shot well against Southeast Missouri State, going 26-of-57 from the floor, but overall the team's shooting percentage is .393. From the three-point line, the percentage drops to .326 and Santa Barbara is connecting on less than five threes per game. Hopefully being back at the Thunderdome tonight will help the Gauchos bring those percentages up. UCSB has improved underneath the basket. The Gauchos are out-rebounding their opponents 34-to-33 per game and Santa Barbara has seven blocked shots while its opponents have six.
Scouting the Waves
Similar to the Gauchos, the Waves enter tonight's game coming off two tough losses. Most recently, Pepperdine was defeated at home by Cal State Fullerton 78-74. Alex Acker led the way against the Titans with 18 points, McGowan added 14, and Johnson dropped in 13 points. The Waves appear to have a balanced scoring attack with Johnson heading the pack. Johnson has scored in double figures in all four games, including one 20-point outing. McGowan has also reached double figures in each game while Acker and Davis have three double digit outings. Defensively, the Waves pressure all over the court, pressing for most of the game. In doing so, Pepperdine has forced 72 turnovers and grabbed 29 steals in just four games. Conversely, the constant pressure can be countered as teams that beat it get easy baskets and lots of fast break opportunities. Under the basket, Pepperdine is losing the war on the boards as they pull down an average of 31.3 rebounds per game as opposed to their opponents' 40.8. The Wave big men partially make up for it with their ability to block shots, sending 18 shots away from the hoop on the season. One thing that is certain is that third year coach Paul Westphal will have the Waves prepared for tonight's war-by-the-shore contest.
The key match-up during tonight's game will be the Santa Barbara guards versus the Pepperdine press. Pepperdine's ability to pressure teams with its press defense allows the team the opportunity to take its opponents out of many games simply by disrupting any offensive flow the opponent may have. Tonight, it's up to Atako, Chrismen Oliver, and Joe See to keep this from happening. The Santa Barbara point guards will be asked to guide the rest of the team through the press and in doing so, take Pepperdine out of its game.
What To Look For
Look for the Gauchos to be relieved to finally be back home, opening up a three-game home stand. After logging many miles in the trips to Hawaii and Montana, UCSB is thankful to be back in the Tunderdome. Look for an uptempo game with lots of fast breaks and easy baskets. It should be an exciting and athletic affair as both teams have the ability and will look to play above the rim on both ends of the floor. Finally, look for one team to snap a two-game loosing streak.