UCSB Puts 4-Game Win Streak on the Line, Hosts San Diego Saturday Night at the Thunderdome

Marcus Jackson (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Marcus Jackson (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

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Upcoming Games
Game No. 8
Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. 
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. University of San Diego Toreros
at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: BigWest.tv
Live Stats

Game No. 9
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. 
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks
at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: BigWest.tv
Live Stats

This Week
UC Santa Barbara will play its final of three games against West Coast Conference opponents when it hosts the University of San Diego on Saturday night at the Thunderdome. The game against the Toreros will be the first of a two-game home stand that will end when the Gauchos host Nebraska-Omaha on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7:00 p.m. Following the game against the Mavericks, Santa Barbara will play a Saturday, Dec. 9 game at Montana State before taking eight days off for final exams, returning to action at USC on Dec. 17 at 5:00 p.m.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter Saturday's game against the University of San Diego with a 5-2 record.  The 5-2 start is the program's best since the 2011-12 season when it also began the year with a 5-2 record through seven games. The last time the Gauchos began the season with a 6-2 record or better was in 2007-08 when they began the season with a 7-1 record. Last season, the Gauchos were 1-6 after seven games. 

UCSB Extends Winning Streak to Four 
On Tuesday, UCSB defeated the University of San Francisco by a score of 79-72. The win was the Gauchos fourth in a row, their longest winning streak since the 2015-16 season when they won nine in a row, eight to end the regular season and then another in the first round of the Big West Tournament. In 2016-17, Santa Barbara never won more than one game in succession, which they did six times in the 6-22 season.

Pasternack Off to Best Start Ever
Joe Pasternack is off to the best start of any first-year head coach in UCSB history. Pastrnack's 5-2 record is one game better than the 4-3 mark that Jerry Pimm's team produced to open the 1983-84 campaign and two games better than Art Gallon's 3-4 record in 1957-58

November to Remember is in Rear View Mirror 
The Gauchos' 79-72 win over San Francisco on Tuesday was more than just a win. The game ended UCSB's difficult November that included seven games in 18 days in five different cities and three different time zones. The only losses in the seven games came at Pitt, when the Gauchos had a 10-point lead before falling 70-62, and at No. 9 Texas A&M. The five wins included two true road games (Pepperdine and San Francisco) and one neutral site game (Montana).

King Leads Balanced Gauchos to 79-72 Win at San Francisco
Graduate transfer Leland King II posted his second consecutive double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and the Gauchos had five players score in double-figures in a 79-72 win at San Francisco on Tuesday night. Max Heidegger added 18 points, while Gabe Vincent (13), Jalen Canty (12) and Marcus Jackson (10). UCSB used a 10-0 second half run that transformed a 64-62 deficit into a 72-64 lead with just over three minutes to play in the game. Heidegger had six of the 10 points and King had four. The game was tied at 41-41 after the first half, but the Gauchos tightened its defense in the second half, limiting the Dons to 31 points, just 26.7% overall and 11.8% (2-for-17) from three-point range. In fact, after making 3-of-4 from three-point range to begin the game, USF hit just 2-of-29 the rest of the way, 6.9%. 

Possible Starters - Quick Fact
F 1  Leland King II - Recorded double-double in 2 straight games...Had 21 points and a Gaucho-best 14 rebounds at USF...Made 28-of-45 FGs in last 4, 62.2%.
G 2 Gabe Vincent - Has scored 10 or more in 5 of the last 6 games...196 career 3-pointers ranks 6th all-time and needs 2 to move into 5th.
F 5 Jalen Canty - Has at least 1 block in all 7 games and has 11 in the last 3...Scored 10 or more in 6 of 7 games...Made 21-of-30 FGs, 70.0%, in last 5 games.
G 21 Max Heidegger - Big West Player of the Week...24.1 points per game rank 10th nationally, 1st in Big West...Has played 30+minutes in all 7 games.
G 55 Marcus Jackson - After missing the first 3 games win a hip injury, has played in 4 straight...Scored 10+ points in 3 of his 4 appearances.

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
F 0 Jarriesse Blackmon - Has been a DNP in 3 of the last 4 games, playing 5 minutes on Nov. 24 vs. PVAMU...Has yet to score this year.
G 3  Clifton Powell, Jr. - Played 3 minutes in Tuesday's win at USF...Has totaled 5 minutes in the last 4 games with a pair of DNPs.
F 10 Maxwell Kupchak - Has made 1-for-1 from the field in each of the last 2 games, his first 2 FG attempts of the season.
G 11 Brandon Davis - Has played just 5 total minutes in the last 4 games...Has 9 assists and just 2 turnovers in his 45 minutes.
F 12 Alex Hart - Equaled his season-low with 1 minute played in win at USF...Scoreless in his last 2 appearances.
G 13  Sam Walters - Has played in 2 of the first 7 games...Missed his only field goal attempt but had an assist at Texas A&M.
F 14  Ami Lakoju - Was scoreless in 7 minutes at USF...Has 12 fouls in 33 minutes over the last 5 games...Scoreless in his last 3 games.
G 23 Christian Terrell - After stating first 3 games, has come off the bench in the last 4...Had season-high 5 rebounds at USF...Played 14+ minutes in all 7 games.
F 43 J.D. Slajchert - Has played in just 1 of 7 games this season...Logged 1 minute in the Nov. 17 game at Texas A&M.   

The Opponents
UCSB and the University of San Diego have played 24 times since the series began in 1964 with the Gauchos holding a 16-8 all-time advantage. In the last meeting, on Dec. 11, 2016, USD posted a 77-68 home victory and has now won two-straight in the series. UCSB's last win against the Toreros came in December od 2013 in San Diego. The Gauchos and Nebraska-Omaha have played twice, each of the last two years. Last season, the Mavericks won  the season-opener for both teams at the Thunderdome, 74-60, and in 2015, Santa Barbara won the season-opener in Nebraska, 60-59.

The Gauchos at the Thunderdome
UCSB has opened the regular season with a 2-0 record at the Thunderdome. On Nov. 11, the Gauchos posted an 85-66 victory over North Dakota State and on Nov. 24 they defeated Prairie View A&M, 69-66. In the last two years UCSB was just 5-8 and 6-5 at home respectively, a combined 11-13.

The Fab Five
UCSB enters Saturday's game against the University of San Diego with five players averaging in double-figures. Guard Max Heidegger leads the team at 24.1 points per game and he is followed, in order, by Leland King II (18.1 ppg), Jalen Canty (11.0 ppg), Gabe Vincent (10.1 ppg) and Marcus Jackson (10.0 ppg). The Gauchos have had those five players score in double-figures in the same game twice this season, on Nov. 28 at San Francisco and Nov. 20 at Pepperdine. The game at Pepperdine was actually the first opportunity for them to achieve the feat. Jackson missed the first three games of the season with a hip injury and returned for the game in Malibu. Last season, UCSB had five players score in double-figures in the same game just once, an 80-76 loss to Seattle University. In fact, the last time a Gaucho team had five players score in double-figures in a game more than once was in 2012-13 when it occurred twice.

In Search of a Bench
While all five starters are averaging in double-figures, UCSB is still searching for some punch off the bench. Gaucho starters, including Christian Terrell's three starts in place of the an injured Marcus Jackson, have scored 491 of the team's 532 total points, 92.3%. In the last four games, since Jackson's return, UCSB starters have scored 300 of the team's 320 points, 93.7%. The leading "scorer" off of the Gauchos' bench is Ami Lakoju who has totaled 15 points, all of which were scored in the season's first four games. 

Jackson Remains Unbeaten as a Gaucho
After playing in UCSB's exhibition win over Fresno Pacific on Nov. 4, graduate transfer Marcus Jackson missed the first three games of the regular season with a hip injury. Jackson returned to action on Nov. 20 at Pepperdine and his return has coincided with the team's four-game winning streak. Coincidence? We think not. Jackson is averaging 10.0 points and 4.5 assists per game since his return.

Gauchos Get Defensive
After the first four games of the season, UCSB opponents had made 103-of-216 field goal attempts, 47.7%, and 30-of-77 three-point field goal attempts, 39.0%. The last three games have been a different story. In the last three games, Gaucho opponents have made 74-of-190 overall from the field, 38.9%, and 18-of-78 from beyond the three-point arc, 23.1%. UCSB has limited its last two opponents to below 40.0% shooting, including a season-best defensive effort of 35.5% in the Nov. 28 win at San Francisco.

Heidegger Goes for 30...Again
Sophomore Max Heidegger scored 30 points in the Gauchos' 69-66 win over Prairie View A&M on Nov. 24. Heidegger has now scored 30 or more points twice this season. The native of Malibu opened the year with a 33-point performance in UCSB's win over North Dakota State. By going for 30 against Prairie View, he became the first Gaucho to score 30+ points multiple times in a season since Alan Williams did it twice during the 2013-14 campaign. The last player to accomplish the feat more than twice was Orlando Johnson who turned the trick five times in 2010-11. Also, the 33-point performance that Heidegger opened the season with was the second most points ever scored by a UCSB sophomore, one point fewer than Doug Rex had on Jan. 28, 1969 at San Fernando Valley State. In that game, he made eight three-point baskets, one shy of the school record previously set by Michael Bryson and Brian Johnson.

Leading Men  
There hasn't been a lot of variation in the Gauchos' leading scorers or rebounders this year. Max Heidegger has led the team in scoring five times and Leland King II has done so twice. King has also paced the way in rebounds five times and Jalen Canty has led twice. Assists? Now that's a different matter. Gabe Vincent has led UCSB in assists three times, Marcus Jackson has led twice, Heidegger has led once and on one occasion, King and Brandon Jackson have led the way. Finally, Canty has either led, or tied for the lead, in blocked shots in all seven games. 

The 20-20 King
Graduate transfer Leland King II has become the first Gaucho player on record to open his career with consecutive 20-point scoring performances. King, who came to UCSB after graduating from Nevada, scored 23 points in the Nov. 11 season opener against North Dakota State and then 22 on Nov. 15 at Pitt. He also scored 20 points in the Nov. 21 win over Montana.