Gauchos Head to Honda Center, Open Big West Tournament Against Pacific on Thursday at Noon

Nate Garth (Photo by Vince Agapito)
Nate Garth (Photo by Vince Agapito)

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• This Week
Game No. 31
Big West Tournament First Round
Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. (noon)
No. 7 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 2 Pacific Tigers

at Honda Center - Anaheim, Calif. 
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio:
TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket
For tickets, click here!

UCSB Secures No. 7 Seed, Plays Pacific For Third Straight Year
The Gauchos' win over UC Riverside on Saturday coupled with Cal State Fullerton's loss at Cal Poly gave UCSB the No. 7 seed in the 2013 Big West Tournament.  The No. 7 seed may not sound like much, but when a tournament berth at all seemed like a lofty goal just a few weeks ago, No. 7 doesn't sound so bad.  The seventh-seed means that the Gauchos will play Pacific in the first round of the tournament for the third straight season.  Last season, the teams also played in the tournament's first game with Santa Barbara as the No. 3 seed the Tigers as the No. 6 seed.  The Gauchos won that game by a score of 72-52. In 2011, No. 5 UCSB defeated No. 4 Pacific in the first round, 79-67.  This season, the two teams split a pair of games with each winning on its own court.  On Jan. 10, the Tigers won in Stockton, 80-62, and on Feb. 9, the Gauchos won in Santa Barbara, 66-53.

Alan Williams, Boswell Earn Big West Conference Honors
Sophomore forward Alan Williams was named First Team All-Big West and junior Kyle Boswell was named the league's Sixth Man of the Year as well as Honorable Mention All-Big West, it was announced Monday.  Williams finished the regular season averaging 17.6 points and a league-leading 10.7 rebounds per game.  In Big West play, he upped those numbers to 19.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.  Boswell came off the bench in all but nine games this season and averaged 13.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.  He made a 77 three-pointers in his 28 games, the fourth most in the school history and a total that ranked him second in the Big West.  Boswell made 42.1% of his three-pointers overall.  In Big West games, he averaged 14.1 points and shot 43.5% from three-point territory.   

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters the first round of the Big West Tournament with an overall record of 11-19.  The Gauchos completed the conference season with a 7-11 record and a seventh-place finish.  They won their regular season finale on Mar. 9, grinding out a 56-46 win over visiting UC Riverside.   

A Humble Little Streak
The Mar. 9 win over UC Riverside gave UCSB three straight wins and while that probably doesn't warrant a national holiday, it's a step in the right direction.  Before the win over the Highlanders, the Gauchos longest winning streak of the season was two.  In fact, before they topped Cal State Northridge on Mar. 2 and Cal State Fullerton on Mar. 7, they had not won consecutive games since they defeated UC Davis and Cal Poly on Jan. 12 and Jan. 19 respectively.  

UCSB Enters Tournament With Health On Its Side  
The Gauchos will enter the Big West Tournament at about their healthiest level all season.  While a few players are still nursing nagging injuries, there are only three players who are absolutely out of the mix for the first round game against Pacific.  Freshman John Green, a projected starter, has not played this year after suffering a broken bone in his foot.  Freshman Aamahd Walker played in two games before injuring his back and he will redshirt.  Freshman forward Mitch Brewe played in 19 games before suffering a fractured finger on his left hand before UCSB's Feb. 2 game at UC Irvine and he remains out.  Other than that trio, every player who missed time this season - Alan Williams, Kyle Boswell, Michael Bryson, Nate Garth, Keegan Hornbuckle and Duke DaRé - should be available. 

Probable Starters - Quick Fact (Note: These are almost completely guesses.)
G 11 T.J. Taylor- Has had three or more assists in 9 straight and 18 of the last 19.
F 15  Alan Williams - Had 15th double-double vs. UCR with 19 pts., 14 rebs.
G 24 Michael Bryson - Has averaged 11.1 points per game in the last 10. 
F 34  Shawn Moore - Has started 6 straight after coming off the bench in first 24.
F 35 Taran Brown- Set UCSB freshman record with 57 three-point baskets.

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
G 1   Nate Garth - Has played in last 2 games after missing 5 weeks, 8 games.
G 4 Aamahd Walker - Back injury will force him to redshirt.
F 5 Keegan Hornbuckle- Has played 16 or more minutes in 4 straight games.
G 10 Kyle Boswell - Has 77 3-point baskets, 4th most in school history.
F 12 Lewis Thomas - All 12 of his 3-pointers have come away from home.
F 21 Mitch Brewe - Fractured finger on left hand will sideline him for the season.
G 32  John Green - Projected starter, broken bone in his foot has him out.
G 43  Duke DaRé - Has 2 or more assists in 3 of last 4 games, 9 times overall.
F 44 Sam Beeler - Has made 32 of his last 51 field goal attempts, 62.7%.

The Gauchos Against The Big West
The Gauchos will play Pacific in the first round of the Big West Tournament, against whom they have gone 54-54 all-time. Here is how UCSB has fared against all of the teams in the tournament.
Opponent                Record
Cal Poly                   69-32
Cal State Fullerton   40-36
Hawai'i                       4-6
Long Beach State     53-61
Pacific                      54-54
UC Davis                   21-5
UC Irvine                  48-32

The Gauchos Away From Home
UCSB is 3-13 in road games this season, but it has yet to play a neutral court game.  The Gauchos ended a five-game road losing streak on Mar. 2 at Cal State Northridge with an 83-74 win.   Their only other road wins this season came in overtime at Santa Clara on Dec. 1, 83-80,  and 66-59 at UC Davis on Jan. 12.  

Williams Passes McCarthy For Third On Big West Conference Victory List
The Jan. 19 win over Cal Poly was the 143rd Big West Conference victory for head coach Bob Williams since his arrival at UCSB for the 1998-99 season.  The win broke a tie with former New Mexico State head coach Neil McCarthy for third-place on the league's all-time list for conference wins.  Williams is now 147-99.   

Youth Is Served
The Gauchos' leading scorer is sophomore Alan Williams.  Their third leading scorer is freshman Taran Brown and the fourth leading scorer is freshman Michael Bryson.  Of the 1,935 points that UCSB has scored through 30 games this season 1,391, or 71.9%, have been scored by freshmen or sophomores.  Of the team's 969 individual rebounds 825, or 85.1%, have been collected by freshmen and sophomores.  Also, of the team's 135 blocked shots 135, or100.0%, have been recorded by freshmen and sophomores. Finally, of the 6,075 minutes played by all Gaucho players this season, 4,432 have been played by freshmen and sophomores, 73.0%.  

The Gauchos Away From Home
UCSB is 3-13 in road games this season, but it has yet to play a neutral court game.  The Gauchos ended a five-game road losing streak on Mar. 2 at Cal State Northridge with an 83-74 win.   Their only other road wins this season came in overtime at Santa Clara on Dec. 1, 83-80,  and 66-59 at UC Davis on Jan. 12.    

In Defense Of  The Gauchos
UCSB limited UC Riverside to just 29.3% shooting overall on Mar. 9  On the season, the Gauchos are allowing opponents to shoot 42.0% overall.  In the last eight games, however, that figure is even lower.  Over the last eight games, Santa Barbara's opponents have made just 148 out of 416 field goal attempts, 35.6%.  The highest opponent's field goal percentage over that span was Cal State Northridge's 42.6% and six of the eight were held below 40.0%.  In 30 games this season, UCSB has limited its opposition to below 40% 14 times.   

On The Margins 
UCSB has won consecutive games by double-digit margins for just the second time this season and the first time against Division I competition.  On Mar. 7, the Gauchos beat Cal State Fullerton 66-50 and on Mar. 8 they handed UC Riverside a 56-46 defeat.  Previously, they had done so in November in consecutive games vs. The Master's College (80-60) and San Diego (57-39).

Block Party!
The Gauchos had eight blocked shots in their regular season finale on Mar. 9 vs. UC Riverside.  It was their highest total since they had a season-high nine in a double-overtime win over Cal Poly on Jan. 19.  They also had nine on Jan. 3 vs. UC Irvine and eight on Nov. 21 against San Diego.  It's probably no accident that the team's record is 4-0 in those four games.  As a team, UCSB has blocked 135 shots on the season, a figure that is the second highest total in school history.  Led by Alan Williams, who has 64 in his 27 games, the Gauchos have five players in double-figures for blocks.  Williams' 64 ranks as the third highest total in school history.  He is joined in double-figures by Taran Brown with 30, Michael Bryson with 17, and Lewis Thomas and Sam Beeler with 10 apiece.  Brown is tied for third all-time among UCSB freshmen while Bryson is fifth.  If they continue to average 4.5 blocked shots per game, the Gauchos would finish with about 140 blocks on the season.

It's A Three For All
While UCSB is not making three-pointers at the same pace as it was earlier in the season, there is still an outside chance that the school record for threes in a season could be broken.  The Gauchos enter postseason play having made 235 three-point baskets in 683 attempts in 30 games, 34.4%.  The school record for three-pointers in a season is 242, a mark set over a 32-game span in 2007-08.  Santa Barbara is averaging 7.8 three-point baskets per game overall, but just 5.0 in the last three games.  The Gauchos have run hot-and-cold with threes this season.  They have made 10 or more 10 times, including a season-high 13 on Jan. 3 vs. UC Irvine, but they have hit 10 or more just twice in the last 12 contests.  

For Starters, Variety Is The Spice Of Life
For various reasons, as is always the case, UCSB has used 13 different starting lineups this season.  Not only that, the Gauchos have started 10 different players in 2012-13 and eight have started at least six times.  The only currently active player who has not started a game this season is Keegan Hornbuckle.  Taran Brown (28), Alan Williams (27), Michael Bryson (24) and Lewis Thomas (21) have the most starts.  2008-09 was the last time the Gauchos didn't have a player start every game for an entire season, but that will be the case this year.

The "Other" Williams
Sophomore forward Alan Williams had 19 points and 14 rebounds in UCSB's regular season finale win over UC Riverside.  It was his league-leading 15th double-double of the season, a figure that ranks 13th nationally.  Williams is now averaging 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.  The 10.7 boards are fifth in the nation.  He is fourth in the Big West in scoring and he leads in rebounding.  He also paces UCSB in blocked shots at 2.4 per game and steals with 29.  The 15 double-doubles are the most by a Santa Barbara player since Eric McArthur had 23 during the 1989-90 season.  To put it in perspective, last year's Gauchos had a total of 11 double-doubles, two of which were by Williams.  In 15 Big West games this season (he missed three full games and most of two others with injuries), he averaged 19.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.  On Mar. 2 at Cal State Northridge, Williams had a career-high 32 points to go along with 16 rebounds, marking the first time in more than three decades that a Gaucho player compiled 30 or more points and 15 or more rebounds in a game.  The last time was Jan. 22, 1983 when York Gross had 31 points and 16 boards in a loss to San Jose State.  Williams has scored in double-figures 24 times in his 27 games and he's gone for 20 or more 10 times.  He has had 10 or more rebounds 17 times this year, including six of the last seven games.  In fact, Williams' average of 10.7 rebound per game is a high-water mark for the season and his 290 total rebound are the sixth-highest single-season total in UCSB history.  In the last seven games, he has averaged 13.3 rebounds per game.  He has had a career-high 17 rebounds twice this season, on Dec. 1 at Santa Clara and Feb. 16 at Cal Poly.  The 17 rebounds are the most by a Gaucho since Josh Merrill had 18 against Westmont on Dec. 7, 1996.  Williams is also poised to become the first UCSB player to average a double-double since McArthur did so in 1989-90.   He has 64 blocked shots this season, tied for the third most in school history, and his 105 career blocks rank sixth all-time.  He has at least one block in 15 of the last 16 games and 24 overall.  In fact, he has two or more 20 times and has a high of five three times, once each against San Diego, UC Irvine, Sacramento State and in the final regular season game against UC Riverside. 

Taran It Up
Freshman Taran Brown broke his nose in practice at Hawaii on Feb. 26 and has been forced to wear a protective mask in every game since.  After struggling while wearing the mask in his first two games - no points and no assists in 34 minutes - Brown has been better in the last two.  In the regular season finale against UC Riverside, he had six points, seven rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot.  He also made a three-point basket, his first since breaking his nose.  In the last two games, Brown averaged just 8.5 points, but he also contributed 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Before breaking his nose, he had one of his better offensive games of the season, an 18-point effort on Feb. 23 vs. Sacramento State.  The 18 points that Brown scored against the Hornets were his highest total since he had 20 on Dec. 29 at Cal State Fullerton.  He is now averaging 10.9 points per game, third on the team, and 5.3 rebounds per game, second on the team.  He has tallied 10 or more points 19 times this year and has 20 or more three times.  Brown scored 22 and 20 in back-to-back games against Illinois State and The Master's College in mid-November becoming the first Gaucho freshman ever to score 20 or more in two straight games.  The 22 he had at Illinois State were the most by a UCSB freshman since James Nunnally had 22 against North Carolina on Nov. 21, 2008.  He has 57 three-point baskets on the season - a UCSB freshman record - ranking him second on the team.  On Dec. 29 at Cal State Fullerton, he made a career-high six three-point buckets.  Brown has had three or more three-pointers 11 times this season. He's made at least one in 22 of 30 games.  Finally, he had the first double-double of his career with 20 points and 13 rebounds vs. The Master's College on Nov. 17.       

Who's The Bos? Kyle Is The Bos!
Kyle Boswell didn't have his best shooting night of the season in the Mar. 9 game against UC Riverside - 4-for-12 overall and 3-for-11 from three-point range - but he scored six of his points in the final minutes to send UCSB on a game-turning 11-0 run.  Boswell is averaging 13.2 points per game, second on the team.  On Feb. 28 at Hawai'i, in his first game back after missing two and a half games with a shoulder injury,  he made 6-of-9 shots from the field - including 5-of-8 from three-point range - and a career-best 10-of-12 from the free throw line to finish with a career-high 27 points.  On Mar. 2 at Cal State Northridge, he had 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting overall and 3-of-8 from three-point range.  To be more specific, Boswell scored all 18 points in the decisive second half of the win over the Matadors. He has averaged 16.7 points since returning from the injury, making 13 three-point baskets over that span.  Boswell has scored in double-figures in 10 of 12, 13 of 16 and 19 of the last 23.  He tallied his previous career-high 23 points three times, most recently in a  Jan. 19 double-overtime win over Cal Poly.  He also scored 23 on Dec. 6 at San Diego State and Jan. 3 vs. UC Irvine.  At SDSU, he made a career-best seven three-point buckets, the most by a Gaucho since Joe See made eight at Utah State on Jan. 6, 2005. In his last seven games Boswell has drilled 21-of-44 shots from long distance, 47.7%.  On the season, he has 77 threes, 23 more than he had in 31 games last year, and he has moved into fourth on UCSB's single-season top-10 list.  He made at least one three in 16 consecutive games before a Jan. 26 game against Hawai'i and he has a current streak of nine consecutive games with at least one three-pointer.  Boswell has made one or more in 26 of his 28 games and two or more 23 times. He has 142 career threes in 332 attempts, 42.8%, the second highest in school history.  He needs eight more threes to move into the school's all-time career top-10.  Finally, while he is averaging 2.0 rebounds per game this year, Boswell had four in the finale against UC Riverside and has averaged 3.7 in the last three games.

The Life Of Bryson
Freshman Michael Bryson had 11 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots and steal in the regular season's final game against UC Riverside.  He has now scored in double-figures in four straight games, averaging 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over that span.  Going further back, Bryson has tallied 10 or more points eight times in the last 10 games, averaging 11.1 over that time.  In all, he has 10 or more 11 times this season.  Overall, Bryson is fourth on the team at 7.7 points per game, a figure that is at its highest point since he scored 10 in the first game of the season at LSU.  He is actually tied for third on the team at 9.4 points per game in Big West play.  He had a career-high 15 points against Long Beach State on Jan. 5.  Bryson has also improved his shooting in recent weeks.  At one point this season, after returning from an injured back that sidelined him for one game and over a span of several games, he had made 20 out of 90 field goal attempts, 22.2%.  In the last 13 games, Bryson has made 48-of-107 from the field, 44.9%, and in the last four he has gone 18-of-33, 54.5%.  He is also averaging 3.5 rebounds per game, including 5.0 per game in the last 11.  He had a career-high eight on Feb. 7 vs. UC Davis.  Bryson is third on the team with 39 three-point baskets, the third most by a freshman in school history.  He tied his career-high with three three-point baskets in two of the last three games. He also had three on Jan. 5 vs. Long Beach State.  Also, the 6-foot-4 Bryson had two more blocked shots in the Mar. 9 win over UC Riverside and has 17 on the season, the sixth most by a UCSB freshman player.  Finally, while he is averaging 25.4 minutes per game, overall he has averaged 29.0 in the last 17.  

Taylor Made
Sophomore point guard T.J. Taylor started the final 18 games of the regular season.  He enters the Big West Tournament averaging 4.6 points, 4.1 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game.  Taylor leads the Gauchos in assists as well as assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.3-to-1.0.  He has had  three or more assists in 18 out of the last 19 games and 22 times this season.  In his last 19 games, Taylor has averaged 5.3 assists per game.  He had a career-high nine on Jan. 5 vs. Long Beach State and again on Jan. 10 at Pacific.  He also had games of eight assists vs. UC Irvine (Jan. 3) and Pacific (Feb. 9).  In addition to his playmaking, Taylor has become a viable three-point shooting threat.  He has made two or more three-point baskets 10 times this season, including a career-high three on Feb. 24 vs. Sacramento State, Feb. 9 vs. Pacific, Jan. 3 vs. UC Irvine and Dec. 29 at Cal State Fullerton.  Taylor is shooting 39.2% from three-point territory, but since opening the year by making 4-of-13, 30.8%, he has drilled 25-of-61, 41.0%.  He is averaging 4.6 points per game overall, but that figure is at 5.4 per game in 18 Big West Conference games.  Taylor has scored 10 or more five times, including a career-high 11 on Jan. 26 vs. Hawai'i and Feb. 9 vs. Pacific.

The World According To Garth 
The team's only senior, Nate Garth, has played in UCSB's last two games after missing eight straight with a hamstring injury.  Garth suffered the injury on Jan. 30 at Long Beach State and did not suit up again until Mar. 7 vs. Cal State Fullerton.  He also missed a pair of games with a sprained ankle in early-January.  Garth is averaging 5.1 points and 3.8 assists per game.  While he hasn't scored in 14 minutes of action over the last two games, he did have three assists in the Mar. 9 game against UC Riverside.  It was the 12th time in his 20 games that Garth has had at least three assists in a game. He had a career-high nine assists on Dec. 6 at San Diego State and he has had eight in three others, including his last full game on Jan. 26 vs. Hawai'i.  Garth also had eight assists, to go with a season-high 13 points, in UCSB's Jan. 19 double-overtime win over Cal Poly.  He has scored 10 or more points three times this season.  Garth's assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.2-to-1.0 is second on the team.  

Hornbuckling Down
Because of two ankle injuries, junior Keegan Hornbuckle played in just 12 of 30 games during the regular season.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that he played in the last four, averaging 17.7 minutes per game over that span and playing at least 16 in each.  While Hornbuckle has scored 36 points in his 12 games this season, 3.0 per game, 27 of those points came in three games.  He had eight on Jan. 26 vs. Hawai'i, nine on Jan. 24 vs. Cal State Northridge and a season-high 10 on Mar. 2 at Cal State Northridge.  In the game at Northridge, Hornbuckle scored eight of his 10 points in the second half as the Gauchos came back to win a game that was pivotal to getting into the league tournament.  Hornbuckle has had two assists four times this season, including each of the last three games.

Sam I Am 
Freshman Sam Beeler has played in all 30 games this season, starting three.  He enters the Big West Tournament averaging 2.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.  Beeler had a season-high 15 points on Jan. 24 vs. Cal State Northridge, making all six of his field goal attempts.  On the year, he is shooting 59.0% and he's made 32 of his last 51 field goal attempts, 62.7%. 

Aussie Rules
After starting 21 of the first 24 games, sophomore Lewis Thomas has come off the bench in the last six, seeing his playing time shrink.  While he is averaging 14.1 minutes overall, Thomas has averaged just 6.2 in the last six games.  He scored a season-high 11 points on Dec. 29 at Cal State Fullerton, but has scored just nine total in 18 games since.

A Little More Moore
Walk-on Shawn Moore has started the last six games for UCSB, averaging 15.3 minutes over that span.  Overall, Moore is playing 9.4 per game.  He is averaging 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.  Moore scored a season-high four twice.

Duke, Duke, DaRé! (Pronounced Duh-ray)
Walk-on Duke DaRe has seen his playing time increase with the injury to Nate Garth.  During Garth's eight-game absence, DaRe averaged 16.7 minutes and 2.2 assists per game.  He had a season-high four assists on Feb. 7 vs. UC Davis and he had three or more three times this season.  DaRe has averaged 1.1 points this season, but a career-high eight came on Feb. 20 at UC Riverside when he hit two of his four three-point baskets.