Tonight's Game: UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State Fullerton

Jan. 4, 2003

Tonight UCSB takes on Cal State Fullerton in Santa Barbara's second Big West Conference game of the season. The Gauchos defeated UC Riverside in their first contest to bring their overall record to 4-7 and their league record to 1-0. The game will be broadcast on KEYT 1250 AM.

UCSB Probable Starting Lineup:
Unfortunately, Santa Barbara will most likely have to battle the Titans without their leading scorer, Branduinn Fullove, who is out with a groin injury. Fullove missed the game against Riverside and hopefully he will be ready to return to the floor next week. Starting in his place will likely be freshman Cecil Brown. Brown has been a spark for the Gauchos coming off the bench this season and now he has been given the opportunity to prove himself as a starter. In Thursday's game against Riverside Brown scored eight points and connected on all of his two-point attempts. He is averaging 5.3 points per contest on the season and has also snatched himself five steals. Joining Brown in the backcourt will definitely be Nick Jones, one of the Gaucho's most consistent players this season. Jones is second on the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game and still leads the team in rebounding with 5.9 boards per game. At the point will most likely be Jacoby Atako, although Chrismen Oliver saw a lot of time against Riverside. Oliver tied his career high against Riverside with five assists and played almost the whole second half as the Gauchos had to hold off an attack by the Highlanders. However, Atako, the proven floor general for Santa Barbara, will most likely run the show. Atako leads the team in assists with 36 and is bringing in four points per game. He is also 10-13 from the free throw line. The Gauchos may also have another new face starting on the blocks tonight as Casey Cook has worked himself into the UCSB starting lineup. Cook was 3-3 from the field against Riverside and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. As he gets more comfortable on the floor, Cook will continue to see more time for the Gauchos. Mark Hull will be the other forward for Santa Barbara. Hull scored a game high 16 points against Riverside and moved himself past 1,300 points for his career. He is tied for second on the team in points per game with 13.9 and is also second in rebounding with 5.4 per game. Hull remains the cornerstone of the Gaucho game as he has played more then 30 minutes per game in 10 of 11 games this season.

Cal State Fullerton Probable Starting Lineup:
The starting lineup for the Titans has been through some changes as of late, much like the Gauchos, so it not very certain who will initially take the floor for Fullerton. The guards will probably be Zakee Smith and Derick Andrew. Smith has started and played in all 10 games this season for Fullerton. He leads the team in assists with 52 and has 11 steals. Smith is averaging 4.9 points per game and is also grabbing three boards a game. Andrew has started half of the games for Fullerton but has played in all ten. Andrew is averaging 9.5 points per game and has dropped 9 of 24 three-pointers. He is lethal from the line connecting on 22 of 26 free throws. Absent at the guard spot for the Titans is Ralphy Holmes, out due to injury. On the blocks for Fullerton will most likely be Anthony Bolton, Jamal Forcheney and Amir Bar-Netzer. Bolton leads the group with 7.4 points per game. He gets 3.4 rebounds per game and has dished out 17 assists. However, Bolton has been horrendous from outside sinking just 5 of 31 three-pointers. Forcheney is getting 4.1 points per game and 2.8 rebounds. He is second on the team in blocks with three and also has five steals on the season. Bar-Netzer scores 4.1 points per game.

Scouting the Highlanders:
The Titans come into tonight's game with a 2-8 record. They lost their first conference game to Cal Poly by a score of 65-44. Most notable for Fullerton is the absence of two of their key players. Pape Sow and Ralphy Holmes are both on the bench, Sow for violating team rules and Holmes due to injury. Holmes was leading the Titans in scoring with 17.6 points per game and Sow as right there behind him with 15.9. However, it is doubtful that either will see action against the Gauchos tonight. This leaves it up to the rest of the Titans, none of which average points in double digits or rebounds above five. Derick Andrew is the biggest threat of the group. He shoots well and is very good from the free-throw line. Smith on the other hand, has not been shooting well. He is 17-59 on the year giving him a .288 shooting percentage and is just 1-9 from three point land. He also has only made 14 of 35 free throws. So, the Gauchos will likely deny Andrew the ball and let Smith have at it. As a team, the Titans do not shoot very well from the outside, only 25%, so UCSB will probably be more generous in letting them cast up three-pointers then they have been with other teams. They are also pretty bad from the free throw line, only connecting on 59% of the freebies. Obviously this does not mean that UCSB will give the Titans open looks all night, it means that pending a solid defensive effort and good rebounding, the Gauchos should be able to come away with a victory. However, if Sow and Holmes are back in the lineup, the game will change completely.

Scouting the Gauchos:
Santa Barbara continued their undefeated play at the Thunderdome, beating Riverside on Thursday, now they look to add on to the streak against Cal State Fullerton. Santa Barbara will push the ball and work to get open shots, mainly from the outside. Although one of the trends for the 2003 season has been "live and die by the three," UCSB has been getting improved play down low as Casey Cook has emerged as a threat. With a subtle jump hook Cook has moved into the starting lineup and has had two very good outings. A key for him will be to stay out of foul trouble. A number of Gauchos have fouled out of a game but Cook has done it three times. Don't be confused, UCSB will still bomb away from outside, but hopefully they will be able to establish a post that can be a threat to other teams. Again, the Gauchos will work without leading scorer Branduinn Fullove who is out with a groin injury. Hopefully Nick Jones, Cecil Brown, and Josh Davis can step up in his absence.

Key Match-up:
The key match-up tonight is the Titan administration against Pape Sow. If Sow is kept from playing against the Gauchos then everybody in the Thunderdome can breath a big sigh of relief. Not that anybody is afraid to see UCSB have a challenge, we watched them destroy USC, but the absence of Sow will make the game so much easier. If Sow and Holmes are kept off the floor, the biggest Titan threat will be Derick Andrew. Nick Jones spent a lot of time guarding Nate Carter, the Riverside star freshman, so he will probably match-up with Andrew tonight.

What to look for:
Look for the Gauchos to continue their home winning streak against Cal State Fullerton tonight. Indeed both teams have been struck by injuries so star players will be out on both ends, but the game should still be exciting. The Gauchos have pride playing at home so count on them coming out to defend their court. It's the second game of a new season; Santa Barbara has just as much of a chance of getting to the NCAA tournament now as they did 11 games ago. The march through league play continues.