Gauchos Put Unbeaten Record on the Line Saturday, Host Utah State at Thunderdome

Michael Bryson (Photo by Tony Mastres)

• This Week
Game No. 3
Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Utah State Aggies

at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: BigWest.tv
Livestats: UCSBgauchos.com 

Game No. 4
Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at University of Colorado Buffaloes

at CU's Coors Events Center - Boulder, Colo.
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
TV: Pac 12 Network

• 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 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. 

• Tickets Available
Great season ticket packages remain available for UCSB basketball. The remaining home schedule includes Utah State, Cal, South Dakota State, Long Beach State, Cal Poly and the rest of the Big West Conference. For more information drop by the Ticket Office in the ICA Building on campus, call 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.  

Throwback Week Gets Off To Great Start
This week was lightheartedly referred to as "Throwback Week" for the UCSB men's basketball team because of a schedule that included former Big West/Pacific Coast Athletic Association rivals UNLV and Utah State. Well, lighthearted or not, "Throwback Week" got off to a good start as the Gauchos travelled to Las Vegas and handed the Runnin' Rebels their worst home loss in 10 years, 86-65, on Tuesday night. On Saturday, UCSB returns home to host the second game of its walk down memory lane when Utah State invades the Thunderdome for a 7:00 p.m. game. The Gauchos and Aggies will also meet as part of a tournament in Logan, Utah on Dec. 20.

Taking The Bad With The Good
The Gauchos trip to Las Vegas wasn't all fun and games. Hardly. On Tuesday, just hours before the game at UNLV, the UCSB coaching staff was informed that John Green would be sidelined for 3-6 weeks with an injury to his left foot. For Green, it was a setback. The Oakland native missed the last two seasons with foot injuries, but after playing in the team's exhibition game and regular season opener, he will now miss somewhere between five and 11 games.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters Saturday's game against Utah State with a perfect 2-0 record having defeated Hawaii-Pacific 76-50 in the season opener on Nov. 8 and then winning at UNLV on Nov. 12, 86-65. The last time Santa Barbara started the season 2-0 was in 2011-12. 

Williams In 16th Season at UCSB, Wins 250th Game 
2013-14 is Bob Williams' 16th season at the helm of the UCSB basketball program, equaling the longest tenure of any coach in program history.  Willie Wilton guided the Gauchos from 1937-43, 1946-51 and 1952-57, a total of 16 seasons. Jerry Pimm was in charge from 1983-98, 15 seasons.  Williams is the school's all-time leader in coaching victories and the win at UNLV on Nov. 12 was his 250th as UCSB's head coach. His overall record is 250-201 and his teams have qualified for three NCAA Tournaments and six total postseason tournaments. 

He'll Answer To The Name Dean
Bob Williams is not only UCSB's all-time winningest head basketball coach, he is now the Dean of Big West coaches and, with the retirement of Bob Thomason at the University of the Pacific, also has the longest tenure of any coach on the West Coast. Williams, a member of the NCAA Basketball Ethics Committee, has the longest continuous run at one school of any coach west of the Mississippi, - 16 years - the same as Utah State's Stew Morrill and Texas's Rick Barnes.

Possible Starters - Quick Fact (Note: These are almost completely guesses.)
G 3 Zalmico Harmon - Has nine assists and 0 turnovers through two games.
G 10 Kyle Boswell - Leads the team with 8 3-pointers and tied with 9 assists.
F 15  Alan Williams - With 26 rebounds in first two games, now has 521 in his career.
G 24 Michael Bryson - Second on the team with 3 3-point baskets. 
F 34  Shawn Moore - Had career highs of 6 points and 5 rebounds at UNLV. 

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
G 0   Hunter Ford - Walk-on guard logged 2 minutes vs. Hawaii-Pacific.
G 1 Eric Childress - Had career-highs of 9 points and 4 assists in win over UNLV.
G 4 Aamahd Walker - Is scoreless in 10 minutes over two games.
F 11 T.J. Taylor- Had surgery on both hips during offseason and may sit out 2013-14.
F 12 Alex Hart - Canadian sharpshooter will likely redshirt and has yet to enter a game.
F 20 Logan Louks- Scored a basket in his one minute stint vs. Hawaii-Pacific.
F 21 Mitch Brewe - Sprained knee has him sidelined for another couple of weeks.
F 31  John Green - Injury to left foot has him out 3-6 weeks.
G 35 Taran Brown- Second on the team in rebounding at 7.0 per game.
G 43  Duke DaRé - Missed first 2 games with sprained ankle.
F 44  Sam Beeler - Career-high 7 rebounds at UNLV, averaging 6.0 per game.

Challenges Remain In Remainder Of Non-Conference Schedule
UCSB answered its first major challenge of the non-conference schedule with a resounding 86-65 win at UNLV on Nov. 12. The 21-point margin of defeat was the biggest that the Runnin' Rebels have suffered at home in a decade. UNLV was, however, not the last challenge for the Gauchos. They still must face Utah State (Postseason appearances in 14 of last 16 seasons), travel to Colorado (NCAA Tournament in 2013), host South Dakota State (NCAA Tournament in 2013), travel to UCLA (NCAA Tournament in 2013), host Cal (NCAA Tournament in 2013), travel to San Diego (One of WCC favorites this season), travel to Utah State again on Dec. 20 and then play Western Illinois (22-9 record and College Basketball Invitational in 2013) in Logan, Utah on Dec. 21. Following a break for Christmas, UCSB will travel to play Seattle University on Dec. 30. Indeed, it is a tough road ahead for the Gauchos.

Turning Over A New Leaf, Not The Basketball
In the season opening win over Hawaii-Pacific, UCSB equaled its lowest turnover total from all of last season with just eight. As if bound and determined to prove that it was no hoax, the Gauchos, against full court pressure for virtually the entire game, had just nine turnovers at UNLV. It marked the first time since the end of the 2011-12 season that the team has gone back-to-back games with fewer than 10 turnovers. In fact, Santa Barbara had fewer than 10 turnovers just twice in 31 games last season. Much of the credit for the turnover turnaround has to go to the three guards most responsible for bring the ball up the court: Zalmico Harmon, Eric Childress and Kyle Boswell. Harmon has nine assists and no turnovers, Boswell has nine assists and one turnover, and Childress has six assists and two turnovers. Combined, the trio has 24 assists and a mere three turnovers.   

Finding Their Three-Point Shot 
One of the areas that UCSB needed to show improvement on after the opener against Hawaii-Pacific was three-point shooting. While the Gauchos defeated the Sea Warriors easily, they struggled with their outside shooting to the tune of 5-for-20, 25.0%. On Nov. 12 in Las Vegas, they hit the jackpot from three-point territory, making 9-of-14, 64.3%. Leading the assault in Sin City was, drumroll, Kyle Boswell. Boswell made 5-of-7 shots from beyond the arc, including three straight at one point in the first half. Through two games, Santa Barbara has made 14-of-34 three-pointers, 41.2%.

The Opposition
UCSB and Utah State have played 62 times in a series that began in 1971. The Aggies hold a 39-23 all-time edge, but the Gauchos won the last meeting between the schools 72-64 on Feb. 18, 2012 in Logan. The game was part of the now-defunct ESPNU BracketBusters series. Santa Barbara and Colorado have played eight times in a series that began in 1970. UCSB holds a 5-3 advantage in the series, but the teams have not met since Dec. 21, 1996 when the Buffaloes handed the Gauchos a 76-55 defeat in Boulder.

The Gauchos At Home
The Gauchos are 1-0 at home this season and went 8-6 at the Thunderdome in 2012-13. In 2011-12, they had 11 home wins, going 11-3, and equaled the highest Thunderdome win total in more than two decades. In Bob Williams' first 15+ seasons at UCSB, the team has gone 142-58 in home games, a winning percentage of .710. The Gauchos are 303-149 all-time at the Thunderdome. 

The Gauchos On The Road
The Gauchos are 1-0 in road games this season having walloped UNLV in Las Vegas on Nov. 12. They have now won two straight true road games dating to last season. A modest streak, indeed. UCSB struggled in true road games in 2012-13. The Gauchos were 3-13 on the road last season and 3-14 in all games away from home. 

The Honorable Alan Williams
Junior forward Alan Williams was a First Team All-Big West choice in 2012-13 after averaging 17.1 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game. Early on this season, he has already accumulated a solid array of preseason honors. Williams has been named Preseason All-Big West by the league's media and virtually every publication, he was selected to the Lou Henson Preseason Mid-Major All-American Team and CollegeSportsMadness.com selected him First Team Mid-Major Preseason All-American as well as Preseason Big West Player of the Year. Needless to say, expectations are high for Williams and he is off to a fast start. Williams had 27 points and a career-high tying 17 rebounds in the regular season opener against Hawaii-Pacific. The 27 points were the most scored by a Gaucho in a season-opener since 2007 and the rebounds were a season-opening record. Williams followed-up that performance with an equally as impressive 21 point, nine rebound, three blocked shot game against defending Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year Khem Birch and UNLV. With 26 rebounds in the first two games of the year, the Phoenix native has eclipsed the 500 rebound barrier with 521. Also, with five blocked shots in the first two games, Williams now has 110 in his career, fifth in school history. The double-double he posted in the first game of the season gives Williams 18 in his career. He had 15 double-doubles as a sophomore last season, the most by a Gaucho since Eric McArthur had 23 during the 1989-90 campaign.

He's The Bos
Guard Kyle Boswell had one of the best all-around games of his career in the win at UNLV. Boswell made 5-of-8 shots, including 5-of-7 from three-point range, and added four assists and three rebounds. At one point, he made three-point baskets on consecutive Gaucho possessions, squelching a Runnin' Rebel rally. With eight three-point baskets in the first two games, Boswell has 151 for his career, a figure that moves him past Brian Johnson into 10th on UCSB's all-time career list. Also, he has lifted his career percentage to .433, just behind Johnson's .436. His next series of targets on the three-pointer list are Mark Flick (162) and Branduinn Fullove (163). Boswell has yet to make a two-point basket this season and he has attempted just one, but his all-around game has never been better. Through two contests, he is tied with Zalmico Harmon for the team-lead in assists with nine, an average of 4.5 per game. The nine assists are the most Boswell has had over a two-game span in his career, and even more impressive, he has just one turnover, a 9-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. FYI, I didn't even need a calculator to make that last equation. Finally, the reigning Big West Conference Sixth Man of the Year, has started both games for the Gauchos this year. It marks the first time that the Huntington Beach native has started consecutive games since late-January of last season. Finally, Boswell is one of the final 30 candidates for the NCAA's Senior CLASS Award which recognizes excellence in the classroom, community, court and leadership.

Green Sidelined 3-6 Weeks
John Green scored eight points and had a pair of rebounds in his season debut against Hawaii-Pacific on Nov. 8. It was Green's first regular season game in nearly two years. However, on Tuesday, Nov. 12, just a few hours before UCSB was slated to tip-off at UNLV, It was learned that Green had suffered a setback in his return after missing two full seasons with foot injuries. An x-ray, taken Nov. 7, showed a very small fracture of a bone in his left foot, sidelining him for 3-6 weeks, meaning that the team's emotional leader and one of its best players, will miss somewhere between five to 11 games.=

Taran It Up
Sophomore forward Taran Brown has come off the bench in each of the Gauchos' first two games and he seems to be thriving. In the opener against Hawaii-Pacific Brown played 25 minutes and had nine points while collecting eight rebounds, two blocked shots, one steal and one assist. At UNLV on Nov. 12, he had eight points, six rebounds and one assists, also in 25 minutes. In the game against the Runnin' Rebels, Brown made 2-of-3 three-point attempts after missing all four of his tries in the opener. As a freshman last season, he played in all 31 games, starting 29. He averaged 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He was second on the team in three-point baskets with 58, a UCSB freshman record, but he struggled with his shooting over the final five games of the year, hampered by a mask that he was forced to wear after breaking his nose in practice before the Gauchos' game at Hawaii. Through two games this season, Brown is shooting 45.5%.  

Bryson Hopes To Continue Emergence
Sophomore Michael Bryson was limited to 21 minutes because of foul trouble at UNLV, but he did chip-in nine points, four rebounds and one assist. Through two games, Bryson is third on the team at 11.0 points per game and his three three-point baskets trail only Kyle Boswell.  Last year, in the season finale against Pacific at the Big West Tournament, Bryson made seven three-point baskets and scored a UCSB freshman record 29 points. As a freshman in 2012-13, the Sacramento native averaged 8.4 points and 3.5 rebounds overall, but his late-season surge saw him average 12.7 points while shooting 47.8% overall and 35.4% from three-point range over the final 11 games of the year. In the final 12 games, Bryson averaged 4.7 rebounds per game. He played in 30 games last season, starting 25.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz
Junior Zalmico Harmon is off to a very good start as UCSB's starting point guard. A transfer from Ventura College, Harmon is tied for the team-lead in assists with nine, 4.5 per game, and he has yet to commit a turnover in 46 minutes of play. In the win at UNLV, he scored a personal-best nine points, had two assists and one steal. A stout defender, Harmon has also been a key part of a Gaucho team that has allowed its first two opponents to make just 39-of-111 field goal attempts, 35.1%.

Chillin' With Eric
Freshman Eric Childress has joined Zalmico Harmon as the Gauchos new point guard duo. Childress had a standout game at UNLV as he made 2-of-3 field goal attempts, including his only three-point shot, finishing with nine points, four assists, two steals and a rebound in 19 minutes. Childress scored all nine of his points during a pivotal stretch towards the tend of the first half. His three-pointer came as the shot clock was running down and his final two points came from the free throw line with 1.1 seconds left in the half. He was 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. Through two games, Childress leads the team with three steals. Also, for the first time in two games, he and fellow point guard Harmon, were on the court at the same time for a stretch of about three minutes.

Sam I Am
Sam Beeler had a career-high seven rebounds in the win over UNLV on Nov. 12. He also added five points and one blocked shot. Because of foul trouble suffered by Alan Williams, Beeler played a career-high 25 minutes against the Runnin' Rebels, two more than his previous high. Through the first two games, he is third on the team in rebounding at 6.0 per game.

We Want Moore! We Want Moore! 
Senior Shawn Moore had the game of his career at UNLV. Originally a walk-on from Butte College, Moore played a career-high 28 minutes against the Rebels and responded with career-highs of six points and five rebounds. He has started both games for UCSB this season after starting the final eight last year.