Jan. 5, 2004
Santa Barbara, Calif. - With little over ten minutes remaining in UC Santa Barbara's first Big West game of the season, it looked as though the Gauchos were well on their way to a victory over Long Beach State and a 1-0 mark in conference play. However, following a 23-4 run by the 49ers, UCSB lost game one of Big West play dropping its overall record to 6-4 and its league mark to 0-1. UC Irvine enters tonight's game with an overall record of 6-4 as well, but the Anteaters were victorious in their opening game against Cal Poly. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at UCI's Bren Center, and the game will be broadcast on KTLK 1340 AM.
UC Santa Barbara Probable Starters
Starting in the backcourt for UC Santa Barbara will be seniors Jacoby Atako and Branduinn Fullove along with sophomore Josh Davis. Atako scored seven points in the loss to LBSU on 3-of-3 shooting. He connected on his only three-point attempt and led Santa Barbara with five assists. On the season, Atako leads the team with 26 assists and is scoring 6.7 points per game. Fullove was one of two Gauchos to score in double figures against the 49ers with ten points on 4-of-8 shooting. He was 2-of-4 from the three-point line and connected on his only free throw attempt. Since his return, Fullove is averaging 8.8 points per game. Davis struggled over the weekend as he was blanked by the Long Beach defense, going 0-for-3 from the floor. On the blocks for the Gauchos will be sophomore Cameron Goettsche and junior Casey Cook. Goettsche did not get credit for attempting a field goal on Saturday night but he connected on all eight of his free throws for a total of eight points. He is averaging just above seven points a game and is tied for second on the team with an average of 5.4 rebounds per contest. Cook led Gauchos against the Beach, much like he has done all season, going 7-for-14 from the floor and 1-for-1 from the line for a total of 15 points. Cook has paced the Gauchos so far this season with his 11.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
UC Irvine Probable Starters
Starting in the backcourt for UC Irvine will be a pair of sophomores, Jeff Gloger and Mike Efevberha. Gloger is averaging 10.1 points per game for UCI but is, more importantly, making a name for himself defensively. In last week's victory over Cal Poly, Gloger recorded five steals to increase his career total to 99, moving him into UCI's top-ten as just a sophomore. Efevberha is scoring 12 points a game and was near perfect against Cal Poly going 5-for-5 from the floor, 2-for-2 from three-point range, and 4-for-4 from the free throw line for a total of 16 points. At the forward positions for Irvine will be seniors Stanislav Zuzak and Matt Okoro. Zuzak is averaging 12.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Against Cal Poly he scored ten points, eight coming from the free throw line, and pulled down six rebounds. With one more three pointer he will move into eighth place all-time in career three pointers at UCI. Okoro is the only starter who is averaging below double digits at 5.3 points per game. Starting at center for UC Irvine will be senior Adam Parada. Parada is averaging 11.7 points per game and leads the team with an average of 7.3 rebounds. In the victory over Cal Poly he recorded his first double-double of the season with 17 points and ten boards.
Scouting the Gauchos
Apparently the best way to beat the Gauchos is to hold them scoreless for extended periods of time, preferably the final eight minutes or so. Aside from that, slow down the senior guards and try your best to keep Casey Cook from beating you. It has taken the entire pre-season for Santa Barbara to finally get its team together, considering the injury to Fullove and the suspension to Jones, but now they are back and one would think everything would be lined up for a march towards March. However, the Gauchos fell apart in Long Beach and are now 0-1 in the Big West with a frustrating loss they must put behind them. The offense moves through Cook right now, as he seems to be the only consistent player for Santa Barbara. Indeed it is only a matter of time before Fullove and Jones become the primary scoring threats, but in loss to LBSU, they combined for 16 points, just one more than Cook's 15. The Gauchos are ninth in the Big West in scoring offense and in order to increase their standing in that category, Fullove and Jones are going to have to produce more. Defensively UCSB is doing well, leading the conference in scoring defense by holding opponents to an average of 60.3 points per game, and ranking second in the conference in field goal percentage defense at .415.
Scouting the Anteaters
UC Irvine is a well-rounded group offensively, with four players averaging double figures and a team field goal percentage of .473. Gloger is off to an impressive start with his 10.1 points per game, a team leading 3.8 assists per game, and 24 steals. If the Gauchos want to slow down the UCI offense it will start with him. From Gloger, the ball goes to either fellow sophomore Efevberha, who leads the team in scoring, or down to the blocks where Zuzak stand 6-foot-11 and Parada 7-feet tall. While Parada will rarely venture out of the key, Zuzak has exceptional three-point range for a big man, already ninth all-time on UCI's top-ten career three-pointers list. As a team, Irvine is second in the Big West in field goal percentage (.473) and three-point percentage (.392). Conversely, on the defensive end the Anteaters are leading the Big West in field goal percentage defense (.404). If they can keep up the good work both putting the ball in the basket and keeping their opponents from doing so, many victories are in line for the Anteaters.
Key Match Up
The key match-up in tonight's game will be the UC Irvine seniors versus the UC Santa Barbara seniors. Zuzak, Parada, and Okoro all have four years under their belts as do Atako, Fullove, and Jones, and it will be up to one of these sets of veterans to set the tone in tonight's game. The difference will be in where each group makes their contribution. Zuzak, Parada and Okoro will work to establish dominance under the basket for Irvine while Atako, Fullove and Jones will work to maintain control outside. The group that can create the most opportunities for its team will undoubtedly earn a victory in the second game of Big West play.
What To Look For
Look for UC Santa Barbara to come out fiery after dropping game No.1 of conference play to Long Beach. The loss to the 49ers was inexcusable in every sense as the Gauchos blew a 20-point lead and went scoreless for more than eight crucial minutes. A win tonight is important to reestablish strength within the Big West and it is certain the players and coaches realize this. Irvine will work to prevent this from happening, as a victory for the Anteaters would keep them in first place and would earn confidence in preparation for next week's match-ups with Northridge and Pacific.