Nov. 3, 2000
Santa Barbara, Calif. -
Senior Adama Ndiaye started his final campaign at UC Santa Barbara in solid fashion, scoring 16 points and pulling down eight rebounds, but it was a freshman, point guard Jacoby Atako who stole the show in the Gauchos' 76-64 exhibition victory over visiting Team Concept on Friday.
Atako, a true freshman out of Santa Monica High School, came off the bench after sophomore starter B.J. Ward committed two early fouls. Atako finished the game with 12 points, four assists and a team-high five steals. He ran the offense well and played more like a veteran than a first-year player.
"I thought Coby (his nickname) played with a great deal of poise for a freshman," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "He shot the ball well and, for the most part, made good decisions. Overall, I was very pleased."
Despite Atako's performance, Team Concept was able to stay close to the Gauchos for much of the game. UCSB led 28-27 at half but they outscored their opponent 23-14 to take a 51-41 lead with 11:51 remaining. Team Concept then went on a 19-10 run to narrow the gap to 61-60 with 5:40 left. Their run included five three-point baskets. The Gauchos matched that run by going on a 9-0 run of their own to take command of the game at 70-60 with less than two minutes to play.
"We played pretty sloppy at times, but that's not too surprising for an exhibition opener," Williams said. "I saw some good things out there tonight. We need to get better, but there were some reasons to be optimistic."
Ndiaye and Atako were joined in double-figures by sophomore swingman Mark Hull who had ten points. Senior guard LaRon Bryant scored nine points and had four assists. All three of his field goals came from three-point range. Another freshman, redshirt Nick Jones, had seven points and four rebounds. As a team, the Gauchos shot 41.9% for the game, including 53.1% in the second half. While they had 21 turnovers, they also forced Team Concept into 26 turnovers of its own.
UCSB will return to exhibition play on Tuesday, November 14 when it hosts The California All-Stars in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.