Gauchos Open Big West Play at League-Favorite Fullerton on Saturday

T.J. Taylor (Photo by Kelley Cox)
T.J. Taylor (Photo by Kelley Cox)

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• This Week
Game No. 12
Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. 
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cal State Fullerton Titans

at Fullerton's Titan Gymnasium - Fullerton, Calif.
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio:

• Single Game Tickets Available!
Single game tickets for all Gaucho men's and women's basketball games are now available and can be purchased in advance from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here

• 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 and Gerry Fall is in his ninth year as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos. Former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford  and Santa Barbara News-Press legend Mark Patton handle the color commentary.

• Talk'n Gauchos
UCSB Athletics' weekly radio show, Talk'n Gauchos, airs every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on AM 1290 KZSB. The show is broadcast live from The Beachside Café, located on Goleta Beach and it features UCSB coaches and athletes.  Hosted by Gerry Fall, the voice of the Gauchos.  Fans can also catch Gaucho head coach Bob Williams every Thursday morning at 8:50 a.m. as he visits with Baron Ron Herron on "Bob and The Baron" on AM 1290.

Gauchos Open Big West Season At Fullerton   
UC Santa Barbara will open the 2012-13 Big West season on Saturday, Dec. 29 when it travels to Cal State Fullerton for a 7:00 p.m. game against Titans, one of the league-favorites.  The Gauchos will play their first home conference games the following weekend when they host UC Irvine (Jan. 3) and Long Beach State (Jan. 5).

The UCSB Record
UCSB enters Saturday's game at Cal State Fullerton with a record of 4-7.  The Gauchos are coming off of a 56-40 loss at Wyoming on Dec. 21.  They enter league play having dropped two straight games and three of their last four.  On the road, they have lost three in a row since winning in overtime at Santa Clara on Dec. 1.

Strength Of Schedule + Young Team = 4-7 Start 
In a survey conducted at the outset of the season, UCSB had the third youngest team at the NCAA Division I level.  The Gaucho roster includes eight freshmen, three sophomores, four juniors and one senior.  The only two programs younger were Navy and Dartmouth.  In the most recent Division I RPI, UCSB's Strength of Schedule ranked number one.  The Gaucho non-conference schedule of San Diego State, Wyoming (twice), Boise State, LSU, Illinois State, Santa Clara and the University of San Diego (plus two NAIA opponents) is ranked as the toughest in the nation, ahead of No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Colorado, No. 5 North Carolina State and No. 6 Butler.  The combination of a very young team and a very difficult schedule, played primarily on the road, has combined to equal a 4-7 start for the Gauchos.

The Opponents
UCSB and Cal State Fullerton have, according to our records, played 74 times in a series that goes back to 1977.  The Gauchos lead by a 40-34 mark.  Last year, the teams split two games with each, shockingly, winning on its home court.  The Titans defeated UCSB at Titan Gym, 99-86 on Feb. 4, 2012, and the Gauchos won the meeting at the Thunderdome on Jan. 5, 77-64.  Santa Barbara has played UC Irvine 77 times since 1968.  The Gauchos hold a 47-30 edge and swept last year's two meetings, winning at Santa Barbara on Jan. 14 by a score of 74-56 and at Irvine on Feb. 15, 85-62.  

The Gauchos On The Road
UCSB is 1-6 in road games this season. After losing at LSU, Illinois State and Boise State, the Gauchos traveled to Santa Clara on Dec. 1 and recorded an overtime win for their first road victory of the season.  They have since dropped three consecutive road games: Dec. 6 at San Diego State, Dec. 18 at Cal, and Dec. 21 at Wyoming.  In 2011-12 the Gauchos went 7-7 in true road games and 9-8 in all games away from home, including 5-3 in Big West road games. 

Maybe Its Something With The Brown Uniforms
If the Gauchos were not convinced about Wyoming's defensive prowess after the first meeting between the schools on Nov. 28, they are now.  In the first game against the Cowboys, UCSB scored 40 points and made 28.6% of its field goal attempts.  The point total was the lowest in a home game since the 1984-85 campaign.  In the second game, on Dec. 21 in Laramie, the Gauchos shot a tad better, 34.9%, but again scored a paltry 40 points, the lowest total in a road game since they also scored 40 in a game at Idaho on Feb. 2, 2002.  Finally, in two games since scoring a season-high 87 points on Dec. 15 against San Diego Christian, UCSB has totaled 99 points, 49.5 per game.   

Margins Of Error
UCSB has played 11 games this season and nine of them have been decided by 14 points or more.  The Gauchos have played just two games decided by single-digits, winning by three at Santa Clara on Dec. 1, 83-80 in overtime, and losing by nine at Cal on Dec. 18, 68-59.

Probable Starters - Quick Fact (Note: These are almost completely guesses.)
G 1   Nate Garth - One of three players to start all 11 games, continues to lead in assists at 4.0 per game.
F 12 Lewis Thomas - After scoring career-high nine on Dec. 18 at Cal, was scoreless at Wyoming.  
F 15 Alan Williams - Has a team-high five double-doubles on the season.
G 24 Michael Bryson - Has had two assists in five games.  
F 35 Taran Brown- After making at least one three in nine straight, did not hit one at Wyoming.

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
G 4 Aamahd Walker - Back injury has him sidelined him indefinitely and he could redshirt.
F 5 Keegan Hornbuckle- Ankle sprain has him sidelined indefinitely.
G 10 Kyle Boswell - Has scored 10 or more in six straight games, longest stretch of his career.
G 11 T.J. Taylor- Has made only two two-point baskets in the last eight games.  
F 21 Mitch Brewe - Collected career-high seven rebounds at Wyoming.
G 32  John Green - Projected starter, but broken bone in his foot has him sidelined indefinitely.
F 34  Shawn Moore - Played seven minutes at Wyoming, his highest total since Nov. 24 at Boise State.
G 43  Duke DaRé - Played a total of two minutes in the last two games, both at Wyoming.
F 44  Sam Beeler - Has made 10-for-13 from the field in the last four games, 76.9%.

The Injury Roundup 
Junior forward Keegan Hornbuckle re-sprained his ankle in UCSB's Dec. 1 win at Santa Clara and has missed the last four games.  He remains sidelined indefinitely and most likely will not return until some point in January.  Freshman guard Aamahd Walker remains sidelined with a back injury and after playing in the first two games of the season, is a candidate to redshirt.  Another freshman guard, John Green, expected to be a starter this season, is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his foot. 

The Gauchos On The Tube 
UCSB's Big West opener at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday will be televised by ESPNU.  The Gauchos games vs. Long Beach State (Jan. 5, Fox Prime Ticket at 4:00 p.m.), vs. Cal Poly (Jan. 19, Fox Prime Ticket at 4:00 p.m.), at Long Beach State (Jan. 30, ESPNU at 8:00 p.m.) and possibly vs. Cal State Fullerton (Mar. 7, ESPNU at 7:00 p.m.) will also be aired.  The home game against the Titans is one of two from which ESPN2 will choose to televise.  Additionally, the Feb. 23 ESPNU BracketBuster game, against an as yet unnamed opponent, could also be televised.  That decision will be made at the end of January.

Youth Is Served
The Gauchos' leading scorer is sophomore Alan Williams.  Their second leading scorer is freshman Taran Brown.  The fifth leading scorer is freshman Michael Bryson.  Of the 707 points that UCSB has scored through 11 games this season 503, or 71.1%, have been scored by freshmen or sophomores.  Of the team's 363 individual rebounds 309, or 85.1%, have been collected by freshmen and sophomores.  Finally, of the team's 49 blocked shots 49, or 100.0%, have been recorded by freshmen and sophomores.   

Three For All Turns Into Three For One
UCSB's streak of setting or equaling a season-high for three-point baskets ended, in a big way, at Wyoming.  The Gauchos made a season-low one three-pointer, in 13 attempts, in the loss to the Cowboys.  In two games prior to Wyoming they made a season-high 13 three-point baskets - a win over San Diego Christian on Dec. 15 and a Dec. 18 loss at Cal.  The pair of 13 three-point performances came on the heels of games at San Diego State  (Dec. 6) and Santa Clara (Dec. 1) in which UCSB hit 12 and 11 three-pointers respectively.  Over the four game stretch prior to Wyoming, the Gauchos were 49-of-116 from outside the three-point arc, 42.2%, and they made 40.6% or better in each of the four. 

The "Other" Williams
Sophomore Alan Williams continues to lead the Gauchos in scoring (16.3 points per game), rebounds (9.7 per game) and blocked shots (2.1 per game).  After struggling offensively at Cal on Dec. 18, he responded with 16 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 21 at Wyoming.  It was Williams' fifth double-double of the season and seventh of his career.   In fact, he has double-doubles in two of his last three games and three of his last five. On Dec. 1 at Santa Clara, Williams had a career-best game with 29 points and 17 rebounds.  He also had career-highs of 39 minutes played, 11 free throws and 15 free throw attempts in the win over the Broncos.  That performance was the first time a Gaucho has had 25 or more points and 15 or more rebounds in the same game since Jan. 29, 1990 when Eric McArthur had 28 points and 21 rebounds against Cal State Fullerton.  The 17 boards were the most by a UCSB player since Josh Merrill collected 18 against Westmont on Dec. 7, 1996. For his efforts, Williams was named Big West Player of the Week.  He has scored in double-figures in 10 of 11 games this season.  While he did not have a blocked shot in the Dec. 21 game at Wyoming, , Williams had three in the Dec. 18 game at Cal and now has 64 for his career, in just 41 games, a total that ranks 10th on UCSB's all-time career list.  This year he has a high of five on Nov. 21 against San Diego and he's had at least one in eight of 11 games.  In fact, he's had at least two in eight of 11.  Finally, Williams has six games this season with 10 or more rebounds and only one other Gaucho has had at least 10 in any one game. 

Taran It Up
Freshman Taran Brown struggled in his return to his home state of Wyoming.  Brown made just 2-of-9 shot from the field, missed all five of his three-point attempts, and scored four points against the University of Wyoming on Dec. 21.  He also had just three rebounds.  Both the point and rebound totals were his lowest since he had three points and one rebound in the season opener at LSU on Nov. 9.  Despite the tough game against the Cowboys, Brown is still second on the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game, a figure that ranks him first among Big West Conference freshmen.  He is also second on the team in rebounding at 5.5 per game, three-point baskets with 27 and blocked shots with 13.  When he went without a three-pointer at Wyoming, it ended a streak of nine straight games with at least one and six straight with two or more.  In fact before Wyoming, Brown had made three or more in four straight games, going 14-of-31 over that span, 45.2%.  He's made a season-high four three-pointers three times, once each against San Diego State, San Diego Christian and The Master's College.  On Nov. 12 he scored a season-high 22 points at Illinois State and in the next game, Nov. 17 vs. The Master's College, he had his first career double-double with 20 points and 13 boards.  Brown became the first freshman in school history to record consecutive games of 20 or more points.  The 22 points vs. Illinois State were the most by a Gaucho freshman since James Nunnally scored 22 against North Carolina on Nov. 21, 2008. 

Who's The Bos?
Junior Kyle Boswell is the Bos, that's who's the Bos.  Boswell had 13 points on 3-of-9 shooting in the game at Wyoming.  He was 1-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc.  In the previous game, at Cal, Boswell made 4-of-10 from three-point range.  He has been on a big-time roll from beyond the three-point stripe in the last five games.  In the first of the five, an OT win at Santa Clara on Dec. 1, Boswell made 4-of-8 three-point attempts and scored 15 points.  Significantly, it was his three-pointer at the buzzer to end regulation which sent the game into the overtime and allowed UCSB to win.  In his next outing, at nationally-ranked San Diego State on Dec. 6, Boswell had his best game ever as he made a career-high seven three-pointers, in 10 attempts, and scored a career-high 23 points.  The seven threes were the most by a Gaucho since Joe See made eight at Utah State on Jan. 6, 2005.  He followed that up with 17 points, four three-pointers and a career-high seven assists on Dec. 15 vs. San Diego Christian.  In the last five games, Boswell has made 20-of-41 shots from outside the arc, 48.9%.  On the season, he is now averaging 11.8 points per game, but in the last five games he is scoring at a 16.0 points per game clip.  Going back one more game, he has scored in double-figures in six straight, the longest run of his career.  Boswell now leads the team with his 30 threes.  He started the first five games for the Gauchos this season, but in the last six he has returned to a role that he became very familiar with last season.  In the last five, Boswell was called on to come off the bench and spark UCSB.  

The World According To Garth 
Point guard Nate Garth had, arguably, the best game of his UCSB existence on Dec. 18 at Cal.  The team's only senior had 11 points, six assists and a career-high six rebounds against the Golden Bears.  He scored all 11 of his points in the second half as the Gauchos rallied from 22 down to ultimately lose 68-59.  On Dec. 21 at Wyoming, he had four points and two assists.  Garth has started all 10 games this season and leads the team in assists with an average of 4.0 per game.  In the Dec. 6 game at San Diego State, Garth had a career-high nine assists.  Since going assist-less in the season opener at LSU, he has 44 in 10 games, 4.4 per game, and since totaling three in the first two games, he has averaged 4.8 per game.  Garth has five or more assists in three of the last five games and five times this season.  Also, he has played 20 minutes or more in each of the last five games, the first time he's played 20 or more in five straight games since last season.  In addition to his 4.0 assists per game, Garth is averaging 5.6 points per outing, fourth on the team.  He had a season-high 12 on Nov. 17 vs. The Master's College.  Garth has made at least one three-pointer in three of the last four games.  

Aussie Rules 
Sophomore forward Lewis Thomas didn't attempt a field goal and was scoreless on Dec. 21 at Wyoming.  On Dec. 18 at Cal, he scored a career-high nine points, all on three-point baskets.  Lewis was 3-of-4 from three-point range against the Golden Bears.  The Perth native has now made 8-of-18 three-point attempts on the season, going 8-of-14 on the road, 57.1%, and 0-for-4 at home, 00.0%.  Anyone could have figured out that last percentage.  Thomas, who has started 10 of 11 games this season, is averaging 3.3 points per game overall, including 4.0 per game on the road and 2.5 per game at home.  His rebounding, which at 4.0 per game ranks third on the team, has been solid everywhere.  He had a career-high nine on Nov. 17 vs. The Master's College, but he's had six in three other games, including two of the last three.   

Taylor Made
Sophomore point guard T.J. Taylor is third on the Gauchos at 2.0 assists per game and he had a career-high six, without a turnover, in the team's Dec. 1 overtime win at Santa Clara. Taylor was scoreless, missing his only field goal attempt, at Wyoming.  He had scored three points in each of the two previous games, both times on three-point baskets.  Of his 30 points on the season, 20 came in consecutive 10-point games against Illinois State and The Master's College in mid-November.  

The Life Of Bryson
Freshman Michael Bryson is averaging 4.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.  He has played in 10 of the 11 games this season, missing most of the Nov. 12 game at Illinois State and all of the Nov. 17 contest against The Master's College with a strained back.  Bryson ranks third on the team with 11 three-point baskets, having made two in five different games.  He scored a season-high 10 points in UCSB's opener at LSU.  He has, however, struggled with his shooting lately.  He was scoreless and 0-for-4 from the field at Wyoming and has now gone 3-for-19 in the last four games, 15.8%.  Bryson had a season-high seven rebounds on Nov. 21 at Boise State and he has had five in each of the last two games, vs. San Diego Christian and Cal. 

Sam He Is
Freshman Sam Beeler had his best game in front of his hometown fans.  On Dec. 6 at San Diego State he made all four of his field goal attempts and had career-highs of eight points and five rebounds.  In the next game, against San Diego Christian, he had six points and made all three of his field goal attempts.  Beeler has scored in five straight games, averaging 4.0 points per game over that span.  Also, in the last five, he's made 10-of-13 shots, 76.9%.