Shorthanded Gauchos Travel to UC Irvine for Wednesday Night Showdown

Maxwell Kupchak (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Maxwell Kupchak (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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• Upcoming Games
Game No. 22
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Irvine Anteaters

at UCI's Bren Events Center - Irvine, Calif.
On-Line Audio:
Live Stats:
Video: ESPN3 

Game No. 23
Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at CSUN Matadors

at CSUN's Matadome - Northridge, Calif.
On-Line Audio:
Live Stats:
TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket 

• Gauchos Travel South for Pair of Games
UCSB will play a pair of road games this weekend. First-up for the Gauchos will be UC Irvine on Wednesday, Feb. 8. The game is slated for Wednesday to allow the Anteaters an extra day to travel to Hawai'i where they will play on Saturday. On Saturday, UCSB will play a 7:30 p.m. game at Cal State Northridge. Wednesday's game at UCI will be carried on ESPN3 while the Saturday match-up against the Matadors will be on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. 

Vincent Joins List of Absent Gauchos
Junior guard Gabe Vincent, UC Santa Barbara's leading scorer and three-point shooting threat suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the Gauchos' Feb. 2 loss to Cal State Fullerton and will be sidelined the remainder of the season. Vincent was averaging 14.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. His 51 three-point baskets are also, by far and away, the most on the team. He suffered the injury late in the first half of the Gauchos' loss to the Titans. Earlier this season, Vincent became the 28th UCSB player to score 1,000 career points and he now has 1,044. In addition, he has 188 career three-point baskets, eighth on the school's all-time list. 

Blackmon Returns to Bolster Frontcourt
Sophomore forward Jarriesse Blackmon, who fractured his left elbow in the Gauchos' Big West Conference opener at UC Davis on Jan. 4, returned to action on Saturday, Feb. 4 in the rematch against the Aggies. In the end, Blackmon missed exactly a month. He logged just two minutes in his return and will, undoubtedly, see his playing time increase in the coming games. UCSB continues to play without three frontcourt players. Forwards Jalen Canty (10.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 55.1% FG), Ami Lakoju (6.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 61.2% FG) and Felix White (0.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg) remain sidelined. Canty, Lakoju and White are sidelined for the season, due to academic issues. 

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters its game at UC Irvine with an overall record of 3-18 and a  Big West Conference mark of 1-8. The Gauchos have lost six consecutive games and nine of their last 10. The six-game losing streak is their longest of the season. The only win in their last 10 games was a 58-53 decision on Jan. 14 against Cal Poly.   

Gauchos Battle to the Last Minute in Narrow Loss to First-Place UC Davis
The Gauchos came from nine-points behind in the second half to take a  57-56 lead over first-place UC Davis on Feb. 4 but they couldn't hold and lost, 67-64. The Aggies reclaimed the lead on a jumper by Chima Moneke and then made 7-of-8 free throws in the final minute to clinch the win. UCSB was led by Alex Hart who recorded his fourth double-double of the year with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Eric Childress added made 3-of-4 three-point shots and finished with 11 points to go along with five assists. Max Heidegger scored 10 points, including the team's final seven.

The Opponents
UCSB and UC Irvine have met 87 times with the Gauchos winning 51 of the games. The Anteaters defeated the Gauchos 66-62 at the Thunderdome on Jan. 12. The teams split a pair of games last season with each winning a road game. UCI won 61-52 in Santa Barbara and UCSB returned the favor, winning 76-60 at the Bren Events Center. UCSB and Cal State Northridge have squared off 53 times with Santa Barbara holding a 35-18 edge. The Gauchos had their three-game winning streak in the series ended on Jan. 25 at the Thunderdome when the Matadors won, 78-57. 

The Gauchos Away From Home 
The Gauchos are 0-11 away from home in 2016-17, including 0-9 in true road games. UCSB has dropped games at Cal State Bakersfield, SMU, USC, San Diego UCLA, UC Davis, Long Beach State, UC Riverside and Hawai'i. They also lost to Iona and Nevada in games played at the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas.

Possible Starters - Quick Fact
G 1 Eric Childress -
Has 384 career assists and ranks 5th in school history...His 134 career steals tie him with Justin Joyner for second all-time.
G 3 Clifton Powell, Jr. - Has made his last 7 of his last 12 3-point field goal attempts...Is 2nd among active Gauchos with 14 steals on the year.
F 10 Maxwell Kupchak - Has played 30+ minutes in two straight games for the first time in his career...Averaging 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in last 3 games.
F 12 Alex Hart - Double-double vs. UC Davis was the 4th of his season and career...Tied career-high with 11 rebounds...Bounced back after 3 subpar games.
G 23 Christian Terrell - After scoring 8 points over a span of 8 games he has 12 points in the last 3 games...Scored in 3 straight games for 1st time since first 3 of season.

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
F 0  Jarriesse Blackmon -
Sidelined another for 2-3 weeks with a fractured left elbow...Started 3 games prior to injury...Made all 3 FGs in 12 minutes on Jan. 4 at Davis.
G 2 Gabe Vincent - Tore his left ACL in loss to Fullerton, sidelined for 6-8 months...Became 28th UCSB player to score 1,000 points and now has 1,044.
F 5  Jalen Canty - Ineligible because of academic issues...Still second on the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game and the team-leader in rebounds at 7.0 per game.
G 11 Tide Osifeso - Made at least one 3-point basket in 3 consecutive games...Now has 8 3-pointers on the year...Has career-high 2 assists in each of the last 2 games.
G 13 Sam Walters - Has made a 3-point basket in each of the last 4 games...Is 6-for-16 from 3-point range this season...Has made just 1 2-point shot.
F 14  Ami Lakoju - Is ineligible because of academic issues...Team-leader in field goal percentage at 61.2% and second in rebounding at 5.7 per game.
F 21 Max Heidegger - Has scored in double-figures in 3 of the last 4 games...Tied his career-high with 4 assists in the game against UC Davis.
F 35 Tyler Jackson - Has 5 or more rebounds in 2 of the last 4 games...Made 6-of-9 field goal attempts in his 1st 5 games, 66.7%.
F 43  J.D. Slajchert - Scored 8 points on Feb. 4 vs. UC Davis, his highest total in 7 games...Tied career-high with 4 field goals against the Aggies.

Vincent Hits Milestones Before Injuring Knee
Gabe Vincent, who is now sidelined for the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, scored 18 points in UCSB's Jan. 21 loss at UC Riverside and, in the process, became the 28th Gaucho player to score 1,000 career points. Vincent had nine before suffering his knee injury on Feb. 2 vs. Cal Fullerton and has now tallied 1,044 points in his three seasons in Santa Barbara ranking 26th all-time. He ends his season needing seven to pass Doug Muse (1,050) and move into 25th all-time. Additionally, the native of Stockton, Calif., has made 188 career three-point baskets, eighth all-time.  When he returns, Vincent  will need three to pass Idris Jones (190), seven to pass Alex Harris (194) and nine to pass Carrick DeHart (196). That would move him into 5th on the school's all-time list. 

Childress Climbs the Lists Too
Eric Childress leads the Gauchos in assists with 78, an average of 3.7 per game. Childress enters the game against UC Irvine with 384 career assists in his 117 career games, 3.3 per game. In each of the last three games, he has climbed one spot on the all-time career assist list. On Jan. 28 at Hawai'i Childress moved past Brian Shaw (375), on Feb. 2 against Cal State Fullerton he passed Bob Schachter (377) and on Feb. 4 vs. UC Davis he passed Jacoby Atako (382) and he now finds himself in fifth-place on the list. He needs 11 to pass Conner Henry (394) and 20 to pass Phillip Turner (403) and move into third on the list. If he were to maintain his average of 3.7 assists per game and play eight more games, he would finish with about 413 assists. In addition, Childress had a pair of steals on Feb. 4 against UC Davis and now has 134 in his career. On Feb. 4 he passed Carrick DeHart and moved into a tie with Justin Joyner for second all-time. Finally, he does not have a realistic shot at passing the all-time leader Ray Kelly who ended his career with 170 steals. 

Walking a Mile in Their Shoes 
With several players out because of injuries and academic issues, UCSB has been forced to go deep into its bench. In recent games the Gauchos have played six players who began their careers as walk-ons, five of whom remain walk-ons. Maxwell Kupchak, who was a walk-on last year but is now receiving a scholarship, is joined by J.D. Slajchert, Tyler Jackson, Tide Osifeso, Sam Walters and Andrew Pickles. In the last four games, the six have combined for 85 points and, more impressively, 65 of the team's 123 rebounds over that span. Finally, while UCSB as a whole has shot 81-of-225, 36.0%, over the last four games, the six walk-ons (or former walk-on) made 33-of-79 from the field, 41.7%.

Talking Percentages
UCSB hit just 24-of-55 field goal attempts in its 67-64 loss to UC Davis on Feb. 4. It marked the first time in seven games that the Gauchos shot better than 40.0% from the field and it was their second highest percentage of the season. In addition, they outshot the Aggies who hit a mere 38.9% of their field goal attempts. It was the first time Santa Barbara has had a higher field goal percentage than an opponent since Dec. 1 in a 75-51 win over Sonoma State. Overall, the Gauchos have had a higher field goal percentage that their opponents just three times this season.   

UCSB Moves From the Fifties Into the Sixties
When it scored 64 points on Feb. 4 against UC Davis, it ended a streak of four straight games in which they scored 57 points or fewer. Overall, the Gauchos are now averaging 62.7 points per game, but they are at just 58.7 points per game in Big West play. On the other side of the coin, the 67 points that the Aggies scored were the fewest by an opponent since UC Riverside registered 65 on Jan. 21. It was the sixth fewest points scored by an opponent this season.

For Starters, That's a Lot of Starters
Eric Childress is the only UCSB player to start all 21 games this season but he is one of 11 different players to make at least two starts on the year. Gabe Vincent, who is out for the year with a knee injury, started all 20 games prior to injuring his knee. Alex Hart has made the third-most starts on the team with 13. Christian Terrell and Jalen Canty (who is ineligible and won't return this season) have each started 10 games. Maxwell Kupchak and Clifton Powell (eight), Ami Lakoju (seven, but also ineligible), Max Heidegger (three), Jarriesse Blackmon (three) and J.D. Slajchert (two) are the other players to have made at least a pair of starts during the 2016-17 campaign.