Winners of 4 Straight, Gauchos Host Sac State Thursday Night

Amadou Sow (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Amadou Sow (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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• Upcoming Games
Game No. 7
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Sacramento State Hornets

at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
Live Stats:

Game No. 8
Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Univ. of Washington Huskies

at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmunson Pavilion - Seattle, Wash.
On-Line Audio:
TV: Pac 12 Network
On-Line Video: Pac 12 Network

UCSB Host Sacramento State, Travels to Washington
UC Santa Barbara returns home on Thursday, Nov. 29 for a game against Sacramento State. It will be one of just two home games that the Gauchos will play over a 32 day span and it will mark the fourth consecutive contest against an opponent from the Big Sky Conference. UCSB will go out on the road again for a Sunday, Dec. 2 game at the University of Washington. The game against the Huskies will be televised on the Pac 12 Network.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters its Thursday game against Sacramento State with a record of 5-1. The Gauchos have won four consecutive games. On Nov. 13, they thrashed Cal Lutheran (88-32), on Nov. 17 they defeated Montana State, 88-69, and then last weekend they posted wins over Portland State (76-69 on Nov. 23) and Idaho (66-55 on Nov. 24). Santa Barbara split a pair of road games to open the season, winning at Wyoming and losing at North Dakota State. In 2017-18, UCSB finished with an overall record of 23-9 and a Big West Conference mark of 11-5. The 23 wins equaled the most in school history and the 11-5 league record was good for second-place. 

UCSB Sweeps Two Games at Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase
UCSB won both games it played the Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase in Boise, Id. In the opening game of the event, the Gauchos overcame a 7-point deficit and cruised to a 76-69 win. Once they took the lead on a three-pointer by Ar'Mond Davis with 1:19 to play in the first half, they never trailed again. Davis finished with a game-high 20 points to lead four players in double-figures. In the second game in Boise, Santa Barbara fell behind the host University of Idaho by nine in the first half before making the comeback. Trailing 48-39 with just under 14 minutes to play, the Gauchos went on a decisive 23-2 run to take a 62-50 lead and the advantage never dropped below 10 the rest of the way. Davis had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the way. Senior Jarriesse Blackmon produced his first career double-double with career-highs of 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Gauchos off to Best Start in More Than a Decade
UCSB's 5-1 start to the season is the program's best since the 2007-08 season when it also began the year with a 5-1 record. That Gaucho team ultimately went 10-1 before losing at North Carolina. The last time Santa Barbara jumped out to a better start than the current 5-1 was in 1992-93 when it opened the campaign with a perfect 6-0 mark. 

Davis Named Big West Player of the Week
Ar'Mond Davis was named Big West Player of the Week after leading UCSB to a pair of wins at the Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase last weekend. Davis, a graduate transfer from Alabama, scored 20 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two assists in the Gauchos' 76-69 win over Portland State in the first game of the event. He followed that up with 18 points, nine rebounds and two steals in a win over Idaho. For the two games, Davis averaged 19.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.0 assists per game. It is the Tacoma, Wash., native's first Player of the Week honor and the first by a UCSB player this season.  

Heidegger is Day-to-Day
Junior guard Max Heidegger, a First Team All-Big West choice in 2017-18 when he averaged 19.1 points per game, has yet to play for UCSB this season. Heidegger remains day-to-day as he recovers from a concussion. In addition to All-Big West Conference, Heidegger earned NABC All-District and Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American honors as a sophomore. 

UCSB's Possible Starters
1 - Ar'Mond Davis - G - Has led UCSB in scoring in 3 consecutive games averaging 20.0 ppg over that span. 
2 - Jarriesse Blackmon - F - Recorded first career double-double in Nov. 24 win over Idaho going for 12 and 10.
3 - JaQuori McLaughlin - G - Has had 5 assists in 3 consecutive games...Scored in double-figures 5 times in 6 games.
4 - Devearl Ramsey - G - Played career-high 35 minutes in both of the games at the Vandal Holiday Hoops Classic.
12 - Amadou Sow - F - Has scored in double-figures in 3 of the last 4 games...Perfect 5-5 in FTs vs. Idaho.

UCSB's Possible Reserves
0 - Sékou Touré - G - Had career-high 11 points on Nov. 23 vs. Portland St...Has 3 or more rebounds 4 times.
5 - Jay Nagle - F - 8 of his 9 field goals have come from 3-point range.
10 - Maxwell Kupchak - F - Played in both of the games at the Vandal Holiday Hoops Classic.
14 - Ami Lakoju - F - Blocked 2 shots in just 5 minutes in the Nov. 24 win over Idaho.
21 - Max Heidegger - G - Is day-to-day with concussion symptoms and has yet to play this season.
23 - Christian Terrell - G - Battling the flu, was a DNP on Nov. 23 vs. Portland St. and played 3 minutes vs. Idaho..
34 - Zack Moore - G - Logged 7 minutes in each of the games vs. Portland St. and Idaho.
35 - Robinson Idehen - F - Since going scoreless in the opener, he has averaged 6.0 points per game.

The Opponents
UCSB is 4-1 all-time in its series with Sacramento State. The teams last played on Dec. 23, 2017 with the Gauchos winning in the state capital, 82-72. The Hornets last won in the series on Feb. 23, 2013, 51-50 at the Thunderdome. UCSB and Washington have played four times with the Huskies a 3-1 all-time edge. The last time the teams played was on December 28, 2015 with the Gauchos winning on the road, 83-78.

The Gauchos at the Thunderdome
The Gauchos have started the 2018-19 season with a 2-0 record at the Thunderdome. They have posted wins over Montana State and Cal Lutheran and are now 14-2 at home under Joe Pasternack. In 2017-18, UCSB opened the regular season with an 11-0 record at the Thunderdome, equaling the longest streak to open a home schedule in school history. The team finished with an outstanding 12-2 home record last season. 

UCSB Looks to Build on Big Turnaround
In 2016-17, the Gauchos went 6-22 overall and 4-12 in the Big West. Last season's team went 23-9, a 17-win improvement, the largest increase in victories in Big West Conference history and it equaled the most massive regular season improvement in NCAA history. In fact, last year's UCSB team became just the fourth Big West program to go from a season with a single-digit win total to 20 or more wins the following year. 

Pasternack Most Successful First-Year Coach in UCSB History
UCSB's 23-9 record in 2017-18 made Joe Pasternack the most successful first-year head coach in Gaucho history. Prior last season, Art Gallon's 15-10 mark in 1957-58 and Bob Williams' 15-13 in 1998-99 were the two best records for a first-year coach. 

In Defense of the Perimeter 
While UCSB is having its issues making shots from outside the three-point arc, its opponents are having even more trouble. Through six games, Gaucho opponents have made just 34 out of 153 three-point field goal attempts, a paltry 22.2%, the fourth best three-point field goal percentage defense in the nation. In two games at the Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase, UCSB limited Portland State and the University of Idaho to 8-of-47 from beyond the arc, 17.1%. Santa Barbara has allowed just two of its six opponents to shoot over 30% from three-point range. North Dakota State made 34.5% and Montana State hit 34.8%.

Inside Defense Not Too Bad Either
While the Gauchos have been particularly stingy when defending the three-point shot, they have also been fairly tough to score on inside the arc as well. Overall, UCSB's opponents have made 121-of-340 field goal attempts, 35.6%, a figure that ranks ninth in the nation. No Gaucho opponent has yet to shoot 50% or better and only North Dakota State (49.1%) and Montana State (44.4%) have shot over 40%. 

Blackmon Comes of Age
Senior Jarriesse Blackmon might be UCSB's most improved player. He is emerging as a valuable interior presence. Through six games, Blackmon is averaging 6.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game. In the Gauchos last game, a 66-55 win over Idaho, he recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, both career-highs. In the previous game, a win over Portland State, he tied his career-high with three blocked shots and set a new personal standard with three assists. Blackmon has scored in double-figures in consecutive games for the first time in his career and in the two games at the Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase, he averaged 11.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocked shots, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He also made 10-of-15 field goal attempts, 66.7%.  

A Variety of Leaders
Through the first six games of the 2018-19 season, UCSB has had four different players lead the team in scoring and four pace the team in rebounds. Ar'Mond Davis has actually led the team in scoring in each oaf the last three games, but in the first three games the Gauchos were led by JaQuori McLaughlin (17 at Wyoming), Devearl Ramsey (13 at North Dakota State) and Ami Lakoju (16 vs. Cal Lutheran). In the rebound category, Amadou Sow and Jarriesse Blackmon have each led the way twice while Sékou Touré and Christian Terrell have each led in one game.

A Two-Headed Point Guard
Sophomores Devearl Ramsey and JaQuori McLaughlin are proving to be a very effective point guard duo. Ramsey starts at the point guard position, but McLaughlin gets his share of time there as well. Ramsey is averaging 4.2 assists per game, a mark that ranks him third in the Big West, and has had four or more four times in six games. McLaughlin is at 3.8 per game, eighth in the league, and he has also had four or more four times. In fact, he has had exactly five in each of the last three games. 

Rebounding Gets Offensive
UCSB is outrebounding its opponents by an average of +9.1 per game. In its last game, it had a decisive 47-30 edge over Idaho and of the 47 rebounds a season-high 19 came on the offensive. Through six games, the Gauchos have 73 offensive rebounds and they have had 11 or more in each of the last five games. Overall, they have won the rebounding battle five time in six games and three of those have come by double-figures. The only game this season in which Santa Barbara was outrebounded by an opponent was on Nov. 23 against Portland State when the Vikings had a +2 edge.