UCSB Closes 2000 With A Win, Hosts Boise State In Big West Opener Thursday

UCSB Closes 2000 With A Win, Hosts Boise State In Big West Opener Thursday

Jan. 3, 2001

The Schedule
Game No. 11
Thursday, January 4, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Boise State Broncos
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Game No. 12
Thursday, January 11, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cal State Fullerton Titans
at CSUF's Titan Gymnasium

Game No. 13
Saturday, January 13, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Irvine Anteaters
at UCI's Bren Center

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara played its best offensive game on Saturday when they scored 48 points in the second half and shot 52.5% for the game to defeat Loyola Marymount, 85-69. With the victory, the Gauchos ended a three-game losing streak and they improved their overall record to 3-7. UCSB has recorded all three of its wins at home, going 3-2. On the road, the Gauchos have yet to record a win and they are 0-5.

Nov. 19 - at Pepperdine 64, UCSB 53
Nov. 21 - USF 77, UCSB 74 (OT)
Nov. 25 - at BYU 67, UCSB 53
Nov. 29 - at UCLA 83, UCSB 77
Dec. 2 - UCSB 57, Westmont College 50 (OT)
Dec. 6 - UCSB 80, San Diego State 77 (3 OT)
Dec. 9 - USC 75, UCSB 73
Dec. 22 - at St. Mary's 71, UCSB 63
Dec. 27 - at UC Riverside 63, UCSB 59
Dec. 30 - UCSB 85, Loyola Marymount 69
Jan. 4 - *Boise State - 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 11 - *at Cal State Fullerton - 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 13 - *at UC Irvine - 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 18 - *Long Beach State - 9:00 p.m.
Jan. 20 - *at Idaho - 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 25 - *UC Irvine - 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 - *Cal State Fullerton - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 1 - *at Long Beach State - 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 - *at Pacific - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 8 - *Idaho - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 10 - *Cal Poly - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 15 - *Utah State - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 17 - UC Riverside - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 22 - *at Cal Poly - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 24 - *Pacific - 3:00 p.m.
Mar. 1 - *at Utah State
Mar. 3 - *at Boise State
Mar. 8-10 - Big West Tournament

The Gauchos On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live on KEYT radio, 1250 AM in Santa Barbara. Randy Lee is back for his fourth season as the play-by-play announcer and Don Ford returns for his fifth year as the primary color announcer.

The Gauchos On Broadcast.com
In addition to KEYT radio, all UCSB basketball broadcasts can be accessed on the internet at either Broadcast.com or at UCSB's official athletic website, www.UCSBgauchos.com.

UCSB On The Internet
The Official Athletic Site of UC Santa Barbara is www.UCSBgauchos.com. UCSB is part of the FANSonly Network.

The UCSB Coaches Show
The Gaucho Coaches Show, hosted by Randy Lee, can be heard every Tuesday night during the basketball season at 6:30 p.m. on KEYT Newsradio, 1250 AM.

Gauchos Open Big West Play
UCSB will open its Big West schedule on Thursday when it hosts Boise State in a 7:00 p.m. contest at the Thunderdome. For the first time in several years, Big West teams will play each other home-and-home and the league schedule will consist of 16 games. The Gauchos have gone 22-10 in league play in two years under Bob Williams.

Bryant Out Of League Opener
Senior guard LaRon Bryant will sit out UCSB's league opener with a sprained left knee. Bryant suffered the injury in practice on Tuesday afternoon. He is expected to return for next week's action at Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his third season as head coach at UCSB. Last year he guided the Gauchos to a 14-14 overall record and a solid 10-6 mark in Big West play. He is the first coach in UCSB history to open his career with back-to-back seasons of .500 or better. In addition, he has led the Gauchos to a two-year record of 22-10 in league play, a winning percentage of .687, the best two-year league mark in school history. In his first season, Williams led UCSB to the Big West's Western Division championship, a 15-13 record overall and a 12-4 record in league. He was named Big West Coach of the Year in 1999. Williams has posted a 32-34 overall record. In his career, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 221-134 record.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has started the last two games after coming off the bench in first eight.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Led the team with five assists vs. LMU.
G - Nick Jones - Scored a career-high 19 points vs. LMU, his first start as a Gaucho.
F - Mark Hull - Has gone 2-for-17 from three-point range in last three games.
F - Mike Vukovich - Has scored in double-figures in five straight games.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - After starting first eight games, he has come off the bench in last two.
G - LaRon Bryant - Sprained left knee will sideline him for Boise State game.
F - Juliano Jordani - Has averaged 10.0 ppg and 7.0 rpg in last three contests.
F - Casey Cook - Has gone 0-for-8 from the field in the last three games.
F - J.J. Todd - Has played in six of the team's ten games.
G - LaDonte King - Saw his first action of the season in win over LMU.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Remains sidelined with fractured ring finger on left hand.

Ndiaye Remains Sidelined
Senior forward Adama Ndiaye remains sidelined for the Gauchos. The 6-foot-9 native of Senegal fractured the ring finger on his left hand three days before the season-opener at Pepperdine, had a pin placed in it a day later, and has been out since. When the injury originally occurred, it was believed that he would be out from four-to-six weeks, but he has yet to be cleared for action. Ndiaye was expected to be one of the top frontcourt players in the Big West Conference this year. Last year, he averaged 9.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game.

The Opponents
UCSB has played Boise State seven times dating back to 1975. The Gauchos hold a narrow 4-3 advantage in the series. Since the Broncos entered the Big West for the 1996-97 season, the teams have split four games, each winning on the other team's home court one time. Last year, in the lone meeting between the schools, the Gauchos posted a come-from-behind 54-50 win in Boise. UCSB and Cal State Fullerton have played 46 times and the Gauchos hold a 24-22 advantage. Santa Barbara swept both games last season and, in fact, they have won four in a row dating back to the 1998-99 season. UCSB and UC Irvine have played 50 times with the Gauchos holding a 32-18 lead. UCSB and UCI split its two games last season with each team winning on its home court.

A Shot In The Arm, And Several In The Basket
After struggling with their shooting in road losses at St. Mary's and UC Riverside, the Gauchos snapped out of it in a big way in the their win over Loyola Marymount. UCSB shot a season-best 52.5% (32-of-61) from the floor against the Lions, including 60.0% (18-of-30) in the second half. The 52.5% that they shot against LMU marked the first time this season that the Gauchos shot 50.0% or better in a game. UCSB's previous best mark was the 49.1% they shot on the road at UCLA. Previously their best mark in a home game was the 43.1% they shot in an overtime loss against USF. Interestingly, the 52.5% performance came on the heels of two of their worst performances of the year. In losses at St. Mary's and UC Riverside, the Gauchos shot 33.9% and 32.3% respectively. During one 40 stretch of those two games (the second half at St. Mary's and the first half at UC Riverside) they made only 12-of-57 from the field, 21.1%. On the year, the Gauchos are now shooting 39.2%.

The Young And The Restless
Through ten games, UCSB is utilizing its underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) at a very high rate. Freshmen have recorded 778 of the team's 2,125 total minutes, 36.6%. Sophomores have played 612 minutes, 28.8%. Combined, the UCSB underclassmen have played 1,390 minutes, 65.4% of this season's available minutes.

Class War
Here is a breakdown of UCSB primary statistics and percentages by class:

LaRon Bryant and Juliano Jordani
163 points - 24.2%
91 rebounds - 26.5%
14 assists - 10.4%
12 steals - 16.7%

Mike Vukovich
97 points - 14.4%
51 rebounds - 14.8%
6 assists - 4.4%
9 steals - 12.5%
14 blocks - 66.7%

Mark Hull and B.J. Ward
214 points - 31.8%
74 rebounds - 21.5%
53 assists - 39.3%
25 steals - 34.7%

Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako, Nick Jones, Casey Cook and J.J. Todd
200 points - 29.7%
128 rebounds - 37.2%
62 assists - 45.9%
26 steals - 36.1%
2 blocks - 15.4%

Gauchos Start Three Freshmen For First Time
Unless our records are wrong, and we all know that is a far-fetched possibility, UCSB recorded a first in its win over Loyola Marymount on Saturday. For the first time in school history, the Gauchos had three freshmen in the starting lineup at the same time. Joining junior Mike Vukovich and sophomore Mark Hull, were freshmen guards Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako and Nick Jones. For Fullove, it was his third start of the year, for Atako it was his second and for Jones it was his first.

Giant Steps: Vukovich Continues His Emergence
Mike Vukovich entered the 2000-01 season expecting to play a similar role to the one he played last year. He would play a reserve role, backing-up at both the four and the five spots. Then, Adama Ndiaye fractured a finger on his left hand and the 6-foot-9 Vukovich won a starting position by default. After five games, it looked like it was going to be a long season for Vukovich. In those first five, he scored a total of 27 points (5.4 per game), grabbed 20 rebounds (4.0 per game), made 11-of-29 shots from the field (37.9%) and 5-of-10 shots from the free throw line (50.0%). Then, a light went on, and things turned around. In the last five games, Vukovich has scored 70 points (14.0 per game), grabbed 31 rebounds (6.2 per game), made 29-of-46 shots from the field (63.1%), and 12-of-13 shots from the free throw line (92.3%). In fact, after five games this year, Vukovich had yet to score in double-figures and he had done so only twice in the first 54 games of his career. Now, he has recorded five successive double-figure performances with games of ten, 18, 12, 14 and 16 points. On the year, Vukovich is now averaging 9.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per outing. He has scored 97 points in 222 minutes over ten games this season as compared to 94 points in 26 games and 250 minutes last season. Perhaps the key for the Gauchos is keeping Vukovich in games. He has fouled out of exactly have (five) of UCSB's games this season and he has committed four fouls in four other games. With 44 fouls, he is averaging 4.4 fouls per game and is on a pace that would see him commit 119 fouls during the regular season, a mark that would break the school record of 114 set by John Conroy in 1963-64.

The Hull Truth, Nothing But
Sophomore Mark Hull is leading the Gauchos in scoring at 14.6 points per game, but in recent games he has struggled. On Saturday against Loyola Marymount, he scored only eight points, his second lowest total of the season, snapping a streak of five consecutive double-figure performances. In the last four games, he has hit only 15-of-48 shots from the field overall, 31.2%. In the last three games, Hull has made only 2-of-17 shots from beyond the three-point arc, 11.8%. Ironically, the three-game three-point skid came immediately following one of his best runs ever from that distance. In consecutive games against UCLA, Westmont, San Diego State and USC, Hull drained 11-of-20 three-point attempts, 55.0%. In fact, that 55.0% was despite an 0-for-3 performance against Westmont. In the games against UCLA, San Diego State and USC, he was a combined 11-for-17 from three-point territory, 64.7%. Hull made 5-of-6 three-pointers in an 83-77 loss at UCLA, scoring a career-high 23 points. He scored 20 or more points in three out of four games at one point (21 at BYU and 21 vs. San Diego State in addition to his 23 at UCLA). Lastly, Hull has generally proven to be a pretty good second half scorer. The Glendale native scored 57 points in the first half of games (5.7 per game) while he tallied 89 in the second half (8.9 per game). Lastly, Hull is easily the Gauchos' workhorse, having played 353 minutes, 83 more than the next closest player (LaRon Bryant has played 270). He has played at least 29 minutes in every game this year, 30 or more nine times (including the last three in a row) and 35 or more six times. Hull played a career-high 46 minutes in the triple-overtime win over San Diego State.

A Little Of This, A Little Of That: Fullove's Full Plate
Like any freshman, guard Branduinn Fullove is having his ups and downs this season, but although he missed three games with a sprained ankle, he has been, with little question, the most consistent and the most solid all-around player among the five Gaucho freshmen. Fullove's contributions were epitomized in Saturday's win over Loyola Marymount. In the game against the Lions, he tied his career-high with 13 points, which included a pair of three-point baskets, he pulled down five rebounds, passed off for five assists and he had a steal. On the season, Fullove is now averaging 8.6 points per game (4th on the team), 5.3 rebounds per game (2nd on the team) and 2.6 assists per game (3rd on the team). In his seven games, he has led the team in each of four categories, points, rebounds, assists and blocked shots. The Simi Valley native has tallied his career-best of 13 points three times (at Pepperdine, vs. San Diego State and vs. LMU). In addition, he pulled down a career-high nine rebounds last week against UC Riverside and he has had five or more rebounds five times this season, including each of the last three games. Fullove ranks second on the team in minutes per game at 28.6. He has played 25 or more minutes in all seven of his games and he has gone for more than 30 twice. Finally, he has the best assist to turnover ratio on the team with 18 assists and only two turnovers, a 2.3-to-1.0 ratio.

Bryant Expands His Game
Last year, guard LaRon Bryant earned a reputation as a designated three-point shooter. This year, Bryant's reputation has evolved as he has become a solid all-around player. Currently UCSB's second-leading scorer (10.0 points per game), Bryant has still made more three-pointers (20) than two-pointers (13), but he also ranks second on the team in steals (11) and second on the team in minutes played (270). In fact, Bryant has been quite successful this season from two-point range, making 13-of-26 (50.0%). He scored ten points vs. LMU, his first double-digit effort in four games. In the three games prior to his ten-point outing against the Lions, he made 2-of-13 (15.4%) from three-point territory. In the game against LMU, Bryant made 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Finally, A Breather At Home
Their win over Loyola Marymount not only marked the first time all season, and ever, in fact, that UCSB had started three freshmen, but it also marked the first time this season that the team could breath fairly easy in the final minutes. The 16-point margin of victory was easily the largest of the season for the Gauchos. Prior to the LMU game, UCSB had played four home games this year and they had all been close calls. Three of the first four games, in fact, went to overtime and one of those went triple overtime. The Gauchos are 3-2 in home games and the margins in those games have been three, three, two, seven (in overtime), and of course, 16. The last time UCSB played three OT games in a season was in 1982-83. In 1981-82, they set a school record with four.

The Nick Of Time
Freshman guard Nick Jones came through for UCSB, just in time. The Gauchos definitely needed a pick-me-up on the offensive end and Jones gave it to them in his first career start against Loyola Marymount. In the win, Jones played a career-high 31 minutes and he made the most of it, scoring a career-high 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. In addition to his offensive contribution, Jones had a pair of steals, three rebounds and two assists in the win. Most importantly, however, he probably plays with more energy than any other Gaucho player and that energy is often contagious, as it was on Saturday. On the year, Jones is now averaging 6.1 points per game. In the last two, he has scored 29 (14.5 per game) while making 11-of-22 shots from the field (50.0%) and 3-of-7 from three-point territory (42.9%). Finally, in his last two games, Jones played 58 minutes without committing a turnover.

What's Cooking?
Freshman Casey Cook continues to lead the Gauchos in rebounds per minutes played. Cook has pulled down 45 rebounds in 175 minutes of action, an average of 10.3 rebounds per 40-minutes of action. He has had at least two rebounds in each of the ten games this season and he has had three or more in each of the last nine games. Cook had a career-high nine rebounds against USF and he had seven against USC. While he is rebounding well, the product of Sacramento's El Camino High School is struggling offensively. He is averaging 3.8 points per game, but he is shooting only 24.1% from the field. In the last three games he has missed all eight of his field goal attempts, scoring one total point.

Men Of Steal
Since Bob Williams arrived in Santa Barbara a couple of years ago, his Gauchos have consistently proven to be a good defensive team. This year has been no different. UCSB is limiting its opponents to 41.1% shooting from the field and they are averaging 7.2 steals per game. The Gauchos came up with a season-high 11 steals on Saturday. In the last two games, UCSB had 20 steals and in the last four they have averaged 8.5 per game. Last season, the Gauchos had 211 steals in 28 games, an average of 7.5 per game. B.J. Ward leads the Gauchos with 15 steals and he is one of three players (Mark Hull and LaRon Bryant are the others) with ten or more.

Point: Atako
Freshman Jacoby Atako has started the last two games for the Gauchos, and he has gotten mixed results in those two outings. In his first start, at UC Riverside, he scored three points, made just 1-of-6 shots from the field, had one assist, three turnovers and a career-high three steals. In his second start, against Loyola Marymount, he tallied four points, making 1-of-2 shots from the field, had four assists , only two turnovers and a pair of steals. In the game against LMU, Atako seemed to play with much more confidence and the results showed. On the year, the Santa Monica native is averaging 4.1 points, 3.1 assists and 0.9 steals per game. He has the best the second-best assist to turnover ratio on the team (1.8-to-1.0). In the last two games, Atako has come up with five of his nine steals. While he is shooting only 31.2% for the season, Atako shot only 4-for-19 in the first three games. In the last seven games, he has made 11-of-29, 38.0%.

Counterpoint: Ward
Sophomore B.J. Ward started the first eight games of the year at the point guard position for the Gauchos. In the last two, he has come off the bench. On Saturday against Loyola Marymount, however, he had a good game and he was instrumental in a second-half spurt that saw the Gauchos go from three points down to 16 points ahead. Ward finished with seven points, four assists, a steal and two rebounds. The seven points represented his highest output since he scored 15 against Westmont on December 2 and it equaled his combined total for the previous three games. Ward leads the Gauchos in assists with 39 (3.9 per game) and steals with 15 (1.5 per game). In fact, Ward has had at least one steal in each of the last four games and in nine of ten this season. He has had two or more steals five times. Since turning the ball over seven times in 19 minutes against USC, Ward has improved significantly, turning it over only five times in 59 minutes in the last three contests.

Jordani Warms To New Role
Juliano Jordani came off the bench for the first time this season in the win over Loyola Marymount and he seemed comfortable with the new role. Jordani made 3-of-4 shots, scored eight points, and he grabbed five rebounds. He has also balanced his scoring and rebounding books with 63 points and 63 rebounds. His 6.3 rebounds per game leads the team and he has had five or more rebounds in three straight games and seven times overall.

Consistency Takes A Holiday
After starting the same lineup in each of the first seven games, the Gauchos have started a different lineup in each of the last four. Actually four games ago, against USC, it was the same lineup as the previous six. In the last three, however, things have been altered. In the first seven it was Ward, Bryant, Hull, Jordani and Vukovich. At St. Mary's it was Fullove replacing Vukovich. At UC Riverside it was Atako, Fullove, Hull, Jordani and Vukovich and against LMU, it was Jones, Fullove, Atako, Hull and Vukovich.