Men's Basketball Returns Home For First Time In 30 Days, Opens Big West Play Against UC Riverside & Cal State Fullerton

Men's Basketball Returns Home For First Time In 30 Days, Opens Big West Play Against UC Riverside & Cal State Fullerton

The Schedule
Game No. 11
Big West Game No. 1
Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Riverside Highlanders
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Game No. 12
Big West Game No. 2
Saturday, January 4, 2003 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans
at UCSB's Thunderdome

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters the Big West portion of its schedule with a record of 3-7. The Gauchos lost both of their games at the Hoops Classic, blowing a 12-point lead and dropping the opener to Nebraska, 60-57, and then losing to Bucknell in the third-place game, 67-60. Santa Barbara starts league competition on a real downer as they bring a five-game losing streak into Thursday's opener against UC Riverside.

The Gauchos On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live on KEYT radio, 1250 AM in Santa Barbara. Brock Bowling is in his first season as the play-by-play announcer and Don Ford is in his sixth year as the primary color announcer. Much to the utter delight of the listening public, UCSB Director of Athletic Media Relations Bill Mahoney will handle the color for selected road broadcasts.

UCSB Looks To Snap Five-Game Losing Streak
The Gauchos are in the midst of the second-longest losing streak in Bob Williams' coaching tenure at UCSB. With consecutive losses at Pepperdine, at Cal, at BYU and against Nebraska and Bucknell, UCSB has dropped five games in succession. Last season, the Gauchos never lost more than two games in a row. In 2000-01, Santa Barbara had a pair of four-game losing streaks and in 1999-00, they opened the season at 0-4. However, the five-game streak is the longest suffered by UCSB since the program opened the 1998-99 campaign, Willliams' first, with an 0-8 record. That year, the Gauchos turned things around once league play began and finished the year with a 15-13 overall record, a 12-4 mark in the Big West and a Western Division Championship.

Fullove Doubtful For Big West Opener
Junior guard Branduinn Fullove, UCSB's leading scorer, is doubtful for the Gauchos' Big West Conference opener against UC Riverside because of a strained groin. Fullove originally felt tightness in his groin during UCSB's December 21 game at BYU. He missed the final five minutes of that contest but played in both of the Gauchos' games at the Hoops Classic. Fullove, however, felt pain at the end of the Bucknell game on December 28 and he has been held out of practices this week. Additionally, his status for Saturday's game against Cal State Fullerton is also up in the air.

The Williams File
Bob Williams is in his fifth season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. Last year, he guided the Gauchos to a 20-11 overall record and an 11-7 mark in Big West Conference play. It was the school's first 20-win season since 1992. Most importantly, however, Williams led UCSB to its first Big West Conference Tournament Championship ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. In his first four-plus seasons in Santa Barbara, Williams' teams have posted a 65-59 overall record and a 42-24 record in Big West games. In 1998-99, his first year, the Gauchos went 15-13 overall and 12-4 in the Big West, winning the league's Western Division championship. That year, they closed the campaign by going 15-5 and Williams was selected Big West Coach of the Year. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, he spent eight years at UC Davis and in those eight years, his teams recorded 20 or more wins five times and a 158-76 record. In each of his last four seasons, the Aggies advanced to the NCAA Tournament and in 1997-98, Williams' final season, they went 31-2, won the NCAA Division II National Championship and he was named NABC Division II Coach of the Year. Including two seasons at Menlo College, Williams has a record of 254-159 at four-year schools.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Came off the bench vs. Bucknell after starting 60 straight
G - Nick Jones - Scored just 14 points in two games at Arizona State Tournament.
G - Cecil Brown - Made his first start of the season against Bucknell.
F - Mark Hull - Five three-pointers against Bucknell were a season-high.
F - Casey Cook - Since scoring 16 vs. Centenary, has scored just 21 in last seven.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Scored season-high seven points vs. Nebraska.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Has played in all but one game this season.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Doubtful with groin injury. Has averaged 17.0 ppg in the last four.
G - Josh Davis - Is a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line this season.
F - Bray Skultety - Torn ACL in left knee will sideline him for the season.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Played a season-low 11 minutes against Bucknell.
F - Scott Rainey - Played season-high ten minutes with three rebounds vs. Bucknell.
F - Derek Wheeler - Has played in four of the last eight games.

The Opponents
UCSB leads its all-time series against UC Riverside by a 9-1 margin. Last year, the Gauchos swept the Highlanders, winning in Riverside 68-56 and in Santa Barbara by score of 80-58. UCSB has won its last three games against UCR. Santa Barbara is 28-22 historically against Cal State Fullerton. The Gauchos swept the series last year, winning in Fullerton 64-62 and in Santa Barbara 54-52. UCSB has posted eight consecutive wins over the Titans.

The Gauchos At Home
Although it is difficult to remember back that far, UCSB is 2-0 at the Thunderdome this season, recording a 70-47 win over USF on November 30 and a 69-53 victory over USC on December 3. Last season, the Gauchos were 10-2 at the Thunderdome.

Skultety's Season Ends With Knee Injury
For the first couple weeks of practice, senior forward Bray Skultety was making a very strong bid for the starting nod at the five spot. Skultety emerged over the final 25 games last season, becoming one of the Gauchos' top rebounders and a sparkplug off the bench. He was a great story. In only his second year of organized basketball, Skultety, a walk-on, had become a regular on a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Awarded a scholarship prior to this season, Skultety's story kept getting better and better, but on November 1, the tale took a turn for the worse. In practice on that Friday, Skultety tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, ending his season and most likely his collegiate career. As a fifth-year senior, an injury redshirt year is a very remote possibility. In 2001-02, Skultety played in 26 games, starting one, averaging 2.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He easily led the team in rebounds per 40 minutes played at 16.2, and despite his 6-foot-6 height, he ranked second on the team in blocked shots with 13.

That's 30 For This Road Trip
While UCSB will play nine more road games this season, the thought of going home to my own bed after a game is so appealing I can't even begin to explain it. For one thing, I would rather listen to my wife snore than our athletic trainer, but that's only the beginning. By the time UCSB takes the court for their game against UC Riverside on Thursday, it will have been 30 days since they last played a real home game. The last time the Gauchos played at the Thunderdome was on Tuesday, December 3 when they blasted USC, 69-53. Since then Santa Barbara has played five games away from home, mostly against tough opposition. The Gauchos have played at Pepperdine, at Cal, at BYU and they played Nebraska and Bucknell at the Hoops Classic in Tempe, Arizona. If you include the late-November trip to the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, UCSB has spent 16 nights in hotel rooms this season.

Free? Nothing Is Free
After a one-game blip, UCSB is again struggling to get to the free throw line. After attempting a modest 17 free throws in a December 21 loss at BYU, the Gauchos attempted just 15 and 13 in their two games at the Hoops Classic. Actually, in the tournament opener against Nebraska, the Gauchos and Cornhuskers each attempted 15, and for just the second time this season UCSB made more free throws than an opponent, 10-9. In the tourney's third-place game, Bucknell went to the line 29 times while the Gauchos attempted just 13. Just as disheartening as the Gauchos' inability to get to the free throw line is the fact that they just aren't making that many when they do get there. UCSB is making 67.7% of its free throws, while opponents are shooting a sparkling 77.4%. In fact, the Gauchos have made better than 70.0% in a game just three times this season. While Santa Barbara is being outscored from the line, they are soundly thumping opponents from the field. The Gauchos have outscored their opponents by 82 points when only counting field goals. Wouldn't that be nice?

Gaucho Three-For-All Continues
With graduation and injury taking their toll, at this point in the season UCSB has a rather limited inside presence. Casey Cook and Bryan Whitehead have shown improvement, but aren't quite there yet. Thus, the Gauchos are extremely reliant on their outside game. Through ten games, UCSB has been consistently solid and at times outstanding from the outside. The Gauchos have made 83 three-point baskets, an average of 8.3 per game. Last year, UCSB made a school-record 201 three-point baskets, an average of 6.5 per game. At their current pace, assuming the Gauchos play at least one game in the Big West Tournament, they would make somewhere between 240 and 250 three-point baskets. In addition, they are shooting a solid 42.3% from beyond the arc, a slight improvement over the 40.6% they shot last season. After making 13-of-43 (30.2%) from beyond the three-point arc in games at BYU and against Nebraska, the Gauchos got back on the beam against Bucknell as they made 10-of-21, 47.6%. In fact, UCSB has made 42.3% or better from three-point range six times in ten games and they have made better than 50.0% twice. The Gauchos best effort from three-point territory was a 9-of-12 outing against Centenary. Santa Barbara has made ten or more three-pointers three times, once each against Cal (11), Pepperdine (ten) and Bucknell (ten).

Nick At Night
After scoring in double-figures in each of the season's first eight games, junior guard Nick Jones scored just seven points in each of last weekend's games at the Hoops Classic. In the two games, Jones attempted just 11 shots in the two games, fewer than he had attempted in four games this season. In fact, in the loss to Bucknell, he played just 24 minutes, his second-lowest total of the season. Still, Jones had a solid, and at times outstanding, preseason. He is still averaging 14.0 points per game, second on the team, and he leads the team in rebounds at 6.1 per game. Unlike his first two seasons, each of which began with him coming off the bench, Jones has been in the starting lineup in all ten games this season and by the looks of things, he has no desire to leave it. Despite a three-game slump, the 6-foot-4 native of Oxnard is still shooting 48.0% overall and 47.6% from three-point territory. In the last three games, Jones has gone 7-of-25 from the field overall, 28.0%. Over that same span, he has hit 4-of-14 from three-point territory, 28.6%. Jones has led or tied for the team-lead in rebounding in five of the last seven games and six times this season. He has had five or more rebounds six times and he is the lone Gaucho to pull down ten or more boards in a game, going for ten against USF. Jones, who has made 20 three-point baskets this season and his career total of 76 is just three short of the Gauchos all-time top-ten list.

Info Box: Nick Jones
Dating back to last season, Nick Jones has scored in double-figures in 14 of his last 16 games and 18 times in his last 21 outings.
Jones is the only UCSB player to record a double-double this season. He went for 16 points and ten rebounds in a win November 30 victory over USF.
When he scored 20 points in the season's first two games against Weber State and Jacksonville State, it marked the first time in Jones' career that he had scored 20 or more in back-to-back games.
Four of his top-ten career scoring performances have come in the first ten games this year.
He is the only Gaucho to have made at least one three-point basket in every game this season.
Jones was chosen to the BP Top of the World Classic All-Tournament Team earlier this season.

The Hull Truth, Nothing But
Senior forward Mark Hull bounced-back from a subpar game at BYU with two solid games at the Hoops Classic. Hull averaged 16.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in the two games, making 12-of-22 (54.5%) shots overall and 8-of-12 (66.7%) from three-point territory. In the loss to Bucknell, Hull tallied 20 points, his highest total since he scored 23 in the opener against Weber State, and he made as season-best five three-point baskets. Hull is averaging 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, statistics that rank third and second on the team. His 26 three-point baskets leads the team. He has made three or more three-point baskets seven times this season and he has hit at least one in nine of ten games, the lone exception being the game at BYU. While Hull is making 46.4% of his three-point baskets, he has been even better in the last eight games, making 22-of-44, 50.0%. He had his season-highs of nine rebounds and six assists in UCSB's December 3 win over USC. Finally, Hull has played 30 or more minutes in each of the last six games and nine times in ten games this season. He played 75 of a possible 80 minutes in the tournament at Arizona State. Hull's 346 minutes are 55 more than his next closest teammate.

Info Box: Mark Hull
With 1,287 career points, Mark Hull ranks sixth on UCSB's all-time scoring list.
His 173 three-point baskets rank Hull third all-time.
Hull has led the Gauchos in minutes played in each of his first three seasons. In 1999-2000, he became the first freshman to lead the team in minutes played. If he can continue to lead the team this year, he will become the first player ever to lead UCSB in minutes played for four consecutive years.
Hull has started all ten games this season and all 97 in his career. He has never missed a game.
His five three-point buckets against Bucknell were his highest total since he had eight vs. Arizona last year.
When he fouled out of a December 7 game at Pepperdine, it marked the first time since his freshman season that Hull had fouled out.

Fulloving It, But Doubtful For Weekend Games
Junior guard Branduinn Fullove is doubtful for Thursday's Big West opener against UC Riverside and his status for the Cal State Fullerton game on Saturday is also up in the air. Fullove is nursing a strained groin, an injury he originally suffered on December 21 at BYU. While the injury forced him to the sidelines for the final five minutes of the game at Provo, Fullove returned and played 61 minutes in two games at the Hoops Classic. In fact, Fullove was outstanding in the games against Nebraska and Bucknell, averaging 18.0 points per game and hitting six three-point baskets. At the very end of the game against Bucknell, however, felt tightness in the groin again and he has been held out of practice this week. The injury to Fullove comes at a bad time for both he and the Gauchos. After suffering through one of the worst games of his career on December 7 at Pepperdine, Fullove has bounced back with four straight outstanding efforts. In the last four games, at Cal, at BYU and vs. Nebraska and Bucknell, Fullove has made 26-of-52 field goals, 50.0%, and 11-of-22 shots from three-point range, also 50.0%. Over that span he has averaged 17.0 points per game and he led UCSB in scoring three times. Fullove leads the Gaucho regulars in field goal percentage at 50.9%, and in three-point percentage at 48.9%. Since going 1-for-8 overall and 1-for-5 from three-point territory in the opener against Weber State, he has made 54-of-100 shots overall, 54.0%, and 22-of-42 from three-point territory, 52.4%. Fullove has scored in double-figures in eight of ten games, including a season-high 23 points in a win over USC. He also had 22 points in a win over Centenary. Finally, he has made at least one three-pointer in nine of ten games, two or more seven times and three or more four times. Fullove has made four three-pointers, one short of his career-high, three times this year, going a perfect 4-of-4 in the important win over USC, 4-for-5 against Bucknell and 4-of-6 against Centenary at the BP Top of the World Classic.

Info Box: Branduinn Fullove
Branduinn Fullove's career scoring average of 13.6 points per game is the leader among active Gauchos and it ranks sixth all-time at UCSB.
With 109 career three-point baskets, Fullove is one of six UCSB players in history to have made 100.
Fullove's career three-point percentage of 42.1% ranks him second on the Gauchos' all-time list. If you include only last year and this year, he has made 81-of-185 shots from three-point territory, 43.8%.
He has 889 points and needs 111 to become the 19th player in school history to exceed 1,000 career points.
In the first four games this season, Fullove attempted 29 free throws. In the last six, he has attempted a total of just nine.
Fullove fouled out for the only time in his career at Pepperdine on December 7.

Help Cecil, Help!
Freshman guard Cecil Brown, coming off of the first start of his career, has been a big help to the Gauchos this season, showing flashes of offensive brilliance while at the same time playing better defense than expected. Brown is fourth on the team in scoring at 5.0 per game, but he has had a couple of offensive explosions that bode well for the future. In the opener against Weber State, Brown scored 12 points in just ten minutes, making 4-of-5 shots from the floor and 3-of-4 from three-point territory. On December 7 at Pepperdine, he scored a season-high 13 points in just 15 minutes, making 3-of-5 three-pointers. He has scored five or more points six times in ten games. Brown's 50 points have come in just 144 minutes of action. Finally, since going 1-for-5 from the free throw line against Weber State, Brown has made 12-of-13 to improve to 72.2%.

The Life Of Bryan
Junior forward Bryan Whitehead came off the bench for the first time this season in UCSB's loss to Bucknell. Whitehead played a season-low 11 minutes in the defeat, committing four fouls in the process. In 37 minutes over the last two games, he has scored just two points and pulled down six rebounds. On the year, Whitehead is averaging 3.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. He is third on the team in rebounding and he leads the Gauchos with nine blocked shots. After blocking at least one shot in five straight games, Whitehead has gone the last three without a swat. He scored a season-high six points twice, vs. Weber State and USF, and he had a season-high five rebounds in back-to-back games against Centenary and USF.

What's Cooking?
Sophomore forward Casey Cook made the first start of his career in the last game against Bucknell, but he fouled out in 19 minutes. Before fouling out, Cook scored two points and had four rebounds. In fact, in seven games and 117 minutes since scoring a career-high 16 points in a November 24 game against Centenary, Cook has scored a total of 21 points. He ranks fourth on the team at 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. In the last four games, all Gaucho losses, Cook has scored just six points and he has made just 3-of-14 shots from the field, 21.4%. He had a season-high five rebounds in a win over USC.

Atako Points The Way
Junior guard Jacoby Atako did not start UCSB's last game, against Bucknell, snapping a streak of 60 straight starts for the point guard. While he scored a season-high ten points in last weekend's tournament opener against Nebraska, he struggled with his shooting and his ballhandling. In the two games, Atako made just 3-of-12 shots from the field and he missed all four of his three-point attempts. In addition, he passed off for just two assists in 48 minutes, turning the ball over six times. When he had more turnovers (2) than assists (0) against Nebraska, it snapped a streak of seven straight games in which he had a positive assist to turnover ratio. With the injury to Fullove, Atako could return to the starting lineup this weekend. He remains UCSB's leader at 3.4 assists per game.

Just Joshing
Freshman guard Josh Davis can't be judged strictly by the numbers. He is averaging 2.8 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game, but he has improved with each game. While he has attempted just 21 shots in 128 minutes, Davis has hit 11, a solid 52.4%. He has also made all six of his free throw attempts. Davis has pulled down nine rebounds in his last three games, a span of 32 minutes. He had a season-high six rebounds in nine minutes at BYU.

Ward Of The Court
Senior guard B.J. Ward had mixed results in the tournament at Arizona State. In the opener against Nebraska, he played a season-high 15 minutes, had a season-high seven points, making all three of his field goal attempts, including a three-pointer, and he passed off for a pair of assists. In the game against Bucknell, he did not score, missing his only shot. On the year, Ward is averaging 2.2 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game.

Oliver's Twist
After playing 31 minutes in the two games leading-up to the Hoops Classic, sophomore guard Chrismen Oliver played a total of just one minute in games against Nebraska and Bucknell. He did not play at all against the Cornhuskers and he played the final minute against the Bison. Oliver, a walk-on, is averaging 1.3 points and 1.6 assists per game. He had season-highs of eight points, five assists and a pair of three-pointers on December 10 at Cal. Of his 74 total minutes played, 47 have come in games against Cal, BYU and Centenary. Oliver played a total of just 27 in the other seven contests.