SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Junior Alan Williams tied the school record and set a career-high with 39 points and tied the school record with a career-high eight blocked shots, leading UC Santa Barbara to an 83-64 win over visiting South Dakota State on Friday night.
Clearly, Williams was rusty after missing UCSB's last two games with back spasms.
"I didn't feel that comfortable in the first half, but really felt good in the second half," Williams said. "My teammates started looking for me and that helped get things going."
Williams had 26 of his 39 points in the second half, making 10 of his 12 field goal attempts.
"I thought the Big Fella was really outstanding tonight," said head coach Bob Williams. "I think some people don't realize just how good he is down low, but in the second half that was about as good as he's been offensively."
Alan Williams missed a double-double by one rebound, finishing with nine.
Williams wasn't the only Gaucho to have a career-night on Friday. Junior point guard Zalmico Harmon had career-highs with 14 points, eight assists and four steals. Just as impressively, the Big West Conference's leader in assist-to-turnover ratio had no turnovers in his 32 minutes.
"Z and E (Eric Childress) have made a big difference for this team," Coach Williams said. "They play both ends of the floor and can make a difference at either. Tonight, Z showed what he is capable of offensively as well as defensively and distributing."
UCSB led by as many as 11 in the first half at 21-10, but when Chad White made a three-pointer from the left side to open the second half, it was 33-32 Jackrabbits.
After opening the game by making 6-of-7 shots to start the game, the Gauchos cooled off significantly, making just 8-of-25, 32.0%, over the 15 minutes of the first half.
SDSU cut the Gaucho lead to 48-44 win on a free throw line jumper by Chad White with 14:08 left in the game, but led by Williams, UCSB used a 10-2 surge to push the advantage to 58-46 with 11:27 to play. Williams scored eight of 12 points.
The Jackrabbits got back in the game by making three-pointers. White capped a 9-2 run with a three from straight out, pulling his team back within 62-58. The Gauchos responded with a long three-pointer from Harmon and a free throw by Michael Bryson and it was 66-58 with just over seven minutes left.
UCSB's lead never dipped below six the rest of the way and the game-ending 19-point margin was the biggest of the night. In fact, the Gauchos finished the contest on a 9-0 run.
Michael Bryson (12) and Taran Brown (10) joined Williams and Harmon in double-figures for Santa Barbara, which had 24 total assists and just seven turnovers. It marked the fourth time in five games this season that the Gauchos have had 10 or fewer turnovers in a game after they achieved that feat just three times in 31 games last season.
Also, UCSB shot 55.2% for the game including a blistering 18-of-26 in the second half, 69.2%.
SDSU was led by White and Cody Larson who had 15 points apiece. Jordan Dykstra, the team's leading scorer coming in, finished with 14 pionts and seven rebounds.
The win ended a two-game losing streak and improved UCSB's record to 3-2 on the year. The Jackrabbits, who played in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, fell to 3-5.
The Gauchos travel to UCLA on Tuesday for an 8:00 p.m. game against the Bruins that will be televised on the Pac 12 Network. In Santa Barbara it can be heard live on AM 1290 KZSB and online at UCSBgauchos.com.
Available now is the "Cinco Pack" for UCSB men's basketball. Fans for one low price, fans can get a ticket to the Gauchos' Dec. 6 home game against Cal and any four Big West games. For information, drop by the ticket office in the ICA Building on campus, call 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.