March 7, 2012

UCSB Opens Defense of Big West Tournament Championship Thursday Against Pacific

• This Week
Game No. 28
Big West Conference Tournament  • First Round 
Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 12:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. University of the Pacific Tigers
at Honda Center - Anaheim, Calif. 
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: BigWest.org

On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live in Santa Barbara on AM 1290 KZSB and will stream live online at UCSBgauchos.com and NewsPress.com. Gerry Fall is in his eighth year as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos. Former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford handles the color commentary.

UCSB Splits The Difference In Defense Of Big West Tournament Title
UC Santa Barbara has won each of the last two Big West Tournament championships and advanced to two consecutive NCAA Tournaments.  In 2010, the Gauchos entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed and held up their end of the bargain, defeating UC Davis and Long Beach State to win their first title since 2002.  Last year, with the tournament reverting back to the old format of no byes, UCSB entered as the No. 5 seed and posted three straight wins over higher seeded teams (No. 4, No. 3 and No. 1), including another win over Long Beach in the final.  This year, the Gauchos are splitting the difference between No. 1 and No. 5 as they enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters the Big West Conference Tournament with an overall record of 18-9 and a league mark of 12-4.  The Gauchos finished the regular season in a tie for second-place with Cal State Fullerton, but the Titans earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament by virtue of their season-ending win over No. 1 seeded Long Beach State.  Santa Barbara won its last three regular season games, defeating Cal Poly (68-60) on Feb. 25, Pacific (76-61) on March 1 and UC Davis (90-43) on March 3.  UCSB has also won six of its last seven and nine of 11.

UCSB Guaranteed Of Seventh Straight Winning Season
UCSB's 18-9 record guarantees that the program will post a winning record for the seventh straight year, the longest stretch in school history.  Previously, the most consecutive winning seasons was six in a row beginning in 1970-71 and running through the 1975-76.  The Gauchos have the longest run of winning seasons of any Big West Conference school.   

Johnson, Nunnally Earn All-Big West Honors
Senior guard Orlando Johnson was named First Team All-Big West for the third straight season, becoming the first UCSB player ever to earn three straight first team honors.  Senior James Nunnally was selected Second Team All-Big West, his third straight all-league recognition.  Johnson enters the postseason as the Gauchos' leader in scoring (20.0 points per game) and assists (2.9 per game).  He is also third in rebounding (6.0 per game), first in three-point baskets (59) and first in steals (30).  A finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, Johnson also became the school's all-time leading scorer in a Feb. 25 win over Cal Poly and now has 1,754 points in his three seasons.  Nunnally is averaging 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.  He has 48 three-point baskets and leads the Gauchos in free throw percentage at 78.9%.

Big West Record Ranks Among The Best
In 2010, UCSB went 12-4 in the Big West Conference and the record was good enough to earn the No. 1 seed in the tournament.  This year, the Gauchos also went 12-4 in league, but were only able to muster the No. 3 seed.  Oh well, easy come, easy go.  Either way, a 12-4 record in league play ranks among the program's best ever.  In 2002-03, UCSB recorded its all-time best league record by going 14-4 and winning the regular season title.  The next best mark is 12-4, which the Gauchos have achieved four times, all under Bob Williams.  In addition to this year, they went 12-4 in 1998-99, 2007-08 and 2009-10.  Three UCSB teams (1987-88, 1989-90 and 1991-92) went 13-5 in the Big West.  All three of those teams were coached by Jerry Pimm.

Probable Starters - Quick Fact
F 0 Jaimé Serna - Ranked third in school history in field goal percentage at 56.2%.
G 11 T.J. Taylor - Had four assists and no turnovers in regular season finale vs. UC Davis.
F 15 Alan Williams - His 39 blocked shots tie UCSB's all-time freshman record.
G 21 James Nunnally - Has scored 20 or more in three straight and four of the last five.
G 33 Orlando Johnson- Is only Gaucho ever to score more than 1,700 points.  Has 1,754.

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
G 1   Nate Garth - Has had three or more assists 13 times and Gauchos have gone 12-1.
F 5 Keegan Hornbuckle- Tied for 2nd on team with 18 steals. 
G 10 Kyle Boswell- Has made 19 of his last 34 three-point attempts, 55.9%.
F 12 Lewis Thomas - Had three rebounds, his third highest total, vs. UC Davis.  
F 24 Christian Peterson - Made first career 3-point shot in regular season finale.
C 55  Greg Somogyi - Has 181 career blocked shots, second on UCSB's all-time list.

On The Road Again...Sort Of
Since the start of December, the Gauchos have become experts at getting on buses, going through security and boarding airplanes.  While UCSB played 14 home games and 13 road games, six of the home games were played in November.  In December, the Gauchos didn't have a home game.  They played just four games, but they were on a 12-day road trip with the team leaving on Dec. 12 and returning Dec. 23.  The road odyssey began anew during the Big West schedule.  Following a Jan. 21 home game against Long Beach State, UCSB played seven out of eight games on the road over a span of 34 days.  The Gauchos did close the regular season with three straight home games, but getting on a bus for the trip to Anaheim should bring back some memories.  

Nunnally Joins In The Climb
Orlando Johnson's ascent up UCSB's all-time scoring list has not been a lonely one.  Senior James Nunnally's scoring surge late in the season has moved him up the list as well.  Nunnally has averaged 21.1 points in the last five games.  In the last two games of the season, wins over Pacific and UC Davis, he scored 28 and 21 respectively.  In the finale against the Aggies, his 21 points moved him past the 1,600 point mark and past Chris Devine for fourth on the all-time top-10 career list.  Nunnally is the fifth Gaucho to pass 1,600 points  in his career and now has 1,619, fourth all-time.  His next target would be Carrick DeHart who completed his career with 1,687 points.

A Right, A Left, A Right, A Left... 
In 2010-11, Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally combined for 1,194 points, the most ever by teammates at UCSB.  This season, Johnson and Nunnally have combined for 969 points, the fifth most in school history.  The duo also ranks No. 5 on that list, combining for 965 points as sophomores in 2009-10.  Johnson and Nunnally have combined for 3,128 points during their three years as teammates, by far the most of any Gaucho duo in the history of the program. 

Williams Is UCSB's All-Time Coaching Victory Leader
UCSB's 58-57 win at Cal Poly on Jan. 2 pushed head coach Bob Williams to the top of the school's all-time list for coaching wins with 223.  Williams enters the Big West Tournament with 235 victories in his 13-plus seasons and his winning percentage of .567 is also a school record.  Williams broke the previous victory record of 222 set by his predecessor Jerry Pimm who guided the program from 1983-98.

Margin Call
The Gauchos are outscoring their opponents this season by an average score of 73.3 to 66.4, a difference of +6.9 points per game.  UCSB's all-time record for scoring margin over an entire season is +12.5 point per game in 1954-55.  The 2011-12 average margin of +6.9 points per game ranks tied for the sixth largest in school history.  The last time the Gauchos posted a larger average margin was in 1989-90 when they averaged +8.1 points per game.  The largest previous margin by a Bob Williams-coached Gaucho team was +5.7 in 2001-02.

The Gauchos Away From Home 
UCSB is 7-6 in games away from home this season.  After opening the year 1-3 on the road, the Gauchos finished the year by winning six of nine.  They do enter the Big West Tournament with a two-game road losing streak.  As for neutral court games?  UCSB is unbeaten at 0-0.

UCSB Breaks Blocked Shot Record
UCSB blocked eight shots in its March 3 win over UC Davis and has blocked 147 on the season, a new school record and a figure that ranks 12th nationally.  The previous record of 133 was set in 2010-11.  Senior Greg Somogyi, who ranks second in school history with 181 blocks, leads the way with 45, the eighth most ever.  Somogyi, however, is getting plenty of help from freshman Alan Williams who has a Gaucho freshman record 39 swats, including 32 in Big West games.  Orlando Johnson (23) and Jaimé Serna (23) are also in double-figures.  Somogyi, Williams and Serna have each blocked at least five in a game this season.

That 70s Show 
In 27 games this season, the Gauchos have allowed fewer than 70 points 17 times, winning each time.  The 17-0 record is in stark contrast to the 1-9 record the team has when they allow 70 or more.  UCSB has also allowed exactly 70 points on two occasions, going 1-1 in those games.

That 80s Show
UCSB scored a season-high 90 points in its season-finale win over UC Davis on March 3.  It was the most points scored by the Gauchos since they scored 93 in an overtime win against UC Davis on Feb. 5, 2011.  It was also the 10th time they have scored 80 points or more in 2011-12.  The last time the Gauchos scored at least 80 points in 10 games was in 1989-90 when they also hit the mark 10 times.

More Marginalizing
UCSB has produced two of its largest victory margins in the modern era this season.  On Nov. 15, the Gauchos walloped Santa Clara by a score of 89-56.  At the time, the 33-point margin of victory was the largest by a Bob Williams-coached UCSB team and largest period since Dec. 6, 1997 when they defeated San Francisco State, 92-50.  In the regular season's final game, the score was even more lopsided as the Gauchos beat UC Davis, 90-43.   The 47-point margin was the largest since they beat Chicago State 108-56 on Dec. 29, 1971 and none of the current UCSB players took part in that game.  In fact, that was even before radio color announcer Don Ford was on the roster and that's saying something.  

On The Mark
UCSB enters the Big West Tournament with a field goal percentage of 45.7%.  The percentage is at its highest since the first month of the season.  In the regular season's final game, a win over UC Davis, the Gauchos shot exactly 50.0%, the 10th time they have made 50-percent or better in a game this season.  Of the 10 times UCSB has made half of their shots or better in a game this season, five have come in the last six games, including the last three in a row.  In the last three games, the Gauchos have made 81-of-159 shots from the field, 50.9%.  In the last six games, they made 156 of 332 shots, 47.0%. 

Three For All
For much of the season, UCSB was a pretty average three-point shooting team.  In the last eight games, with two exceptions, that has turned around.  While the Gauchos are shooting 37.5% from outside the three-point arc, they have made more than half of their attempts in five of the last eight.  The current three-point shooting stretch began on Feb. 4 at Cal State Fullerton when UCSB made 11-of-18, 61.1%.  In the following game, a win over UC Riverside, they hit just 3-of-15, 20.0%, but then bouinced back with a 55.0% showing in a win at UC Irvine and a 53.3% effort in a win at Utah State.  In the last eight games, the Gauchos have made 70-of-152 three-point attempts, 46.1%.

Gauchos Close With Three-Point Rush 
The Gauchos set consecutive season-highs for three-point baskets in their last two games.  On March 1, in a win over Pacific, they made 12-of-29 from outside the arc.  Previously, their season-high was 11 in games at Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.  In the regular season's final game on March 3 against UC Davis, UCSB made 13-of-24 from three-point territory.  The last time the Gauchos made 13 three-pointers was on Dec. 21, 2010 against Cal Baptist.  While they are averaging 7.3 three-pointers on the season, they have averaged 8.7 per game in the last eight.   

Defending From A Distance
On Feb. 4 at Cal State Fullerton, UCSB allowed the Titans to make 17-of-26 shots from three-point range, 65.4%.  The 17 threes not only tied the Gauchos' opponent record, it broke a Fullerton record.  That game was also a flash-point of sorts for Santa Barbara's perimeter defense.  While UCSB's defense of the three-pointer wasn't too bad before that night in Orange County, it became really good after that night.  The next game, on Feb. 11, the Gauchos limited UC Riverside to making just 1-of-13 of its three-point attempts, 7.7%.  The highest percentage by an opponent over the final seven games was 35.0%, which Cal Poly achieved on Feb. 25.  Overall, the last seven opponents made just 35-of-125 shots from outside the three-point arc, 28.0%, as compared to a season-long mark of 33.5%. 

Share And Share Alike
UCSB is second in the Big West in assist average at 15.3 per game.  The Gauchos don't have any one player posting huge assist numbers, but they have several players who chip in.  Orlando Johnson leads the team at 2.9 assists per game while Nate Garth is second at 2.7 per outing.  James Nunnally, who has the highest single game assist total of any player on the team this season with eight against Pacific on March 1, is averaging 2.6 per game, and freshman T.J. Taylor is at 2.0 per game.  As a team, UCSB had a season-high 21 assists three times this season, including the final two games of the regular season.

Can We Get This Done In Regulation?
It would behoove UCSB to limit its Big West Tournament games to regulation time.  The Gauchos were winless during the regular season in overtime games, dropping non-conference games to San Diego State (76-75) and UNLV (94-88 in double overtime) and a Big West game at UC Riverside (79-70).  UCSB has lost four straight dating to last season.