Men's Basketball Continues Big West Play, Traveling To Cal State Northridge And Pacific

Men's Basketball Continues Big West Play, Traveling To Cal State Northridge And Pacific

Jan. 9, 2002

The Schedule
Game No. 14
Thursday, January 10, 2002 at 5:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cal State Northridge Matadors
at CSUN's Matadome

Game No. 15
Saturday, January 12, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at The University of the Pacific Tigers
at UOP's Spanos Center

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters this week's games with an overall record of 9-4 and a Big West mark of 3-1. The Gauchos split a pair of home games last weekend, defeating the University of Idaho 76-53 on Thursday and then losing to Utah State on Saturday, 60-56. The loss to the Aggies was UCSB's first home loss of the season.

The Last Game
In its last game, UC Santa Barbara dropped a 60-56 decision to Utah State. The Gauchos struggled offensively, making just 36.2% of their shots, while the Aggies hit 46.7%, the highest mark by an opponent this season. UCSB led just one time in the game, but could not pull closer than three in the second half. The loss was the Gauchos first at home this season after a 5-1 start. Branduinn Fullove led UCSB with 21 points, while Adama Ndiaye had 11 points and seven rebounds. The Gauchos were also outrebounded for the first time since the season-opener against Westmont.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his fourth season as head coach at UCSB. The Gauchos are off to their best start under Williams at 9-4. Last year he guided the Gauchos to a 13-15 overall record and a solid 9-7 mark in Big West play. In his first three-plus seasons, Williams has led the team to a 51-46 record. The 51 victories are the most by any UCSB coach over that period of time. In addition, the 42 wins in the first three campaigns were 12 more than the team had in the three seasons prior to his arrival. Each year under Williams, the Gauchos have progressively gotten better and better, playing their best basketball late in the season. In fact, in three years-plus campaigns under his guidance, UCSB has logged a 34-18 record in Big West games, a winning percentage of .654, and among the top three in league over that span. In his first season, Williams guided UCSB to the Big West's Western Division championship, a 15-13 overall record and a 12-4 mark in league. He was named Big West Coach of the Year in 1999. Two years ago, they went 14-14 overall, and 10-6 in league. In his career at four-year schools, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 240-146 (.623) record.

Gaucho-Matador Game Moved To 5:30 P.M.
The UCSB game at Cal State Northridge on Thursday, January 10, originally scheduled for 7:00 p.m., has been moved to 5:30 p.m. to accommodate television. UCSB-CSUN game will be broadcast on Fox Sports West 2.

Casey Cook Out Indefinitely
Sophomore forward Casey Cook remains sidelined indefinitely with ligament damage in his right thumb. Cook originally suffered the ligament damage during the preseason. He sat out the team's two exhibition games, but played in the first six games of the season. Prior to UCSB's December 8 win over Pepperdine, Cook re-injured the thumb and did not play in the victory. Doctor's have determined that the thumb has not sufficiently improved and that Cook should not take part in practice or games for an indefinite period of time. If, as expected, he misses the two games this weekend, Cook will have missed seven successive games.

The Gauchos On The Road
UC Santa Barbara enters its two road games this week with a road record of 3-3 on the season. The Gauchos are 2-0 in Big West road games, recording wins at UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton. Since the arrival of Bob Williams, UCSB has posted a Big West road record of 16-10.

The Opponents
UCSB and Cal State Northridge have played 20 times over the years with the Gauchos holding a 16-4 edge. This week's game will be the first Big West Conference encounter between the two schools. The teams have not played since December of 1997 when the Matadors beat the Gauchos 75-58 at Northridge. Santa Barbara and Pacific have played 82 times in a series that dates back to 1947. The Tigers hold a narrow 42-40 advantage in the series. Last year, the Gauchos swept the regular season series between the schools, winning 72-63 in Santa Barbara and 73-67 in Stockton. The Tigers, however, exacted their revenge by knocking the Gauchos out in the first round of the Big West Tournament, 71-69 in overtime. The win by Pacific in the tournament snapped a six game UCSB winning streak in the series and it dropped Bob Williams' record against them to 6-1.

On The Rebound
When Utah State outrebounded the Gauchos on Saturday night, it snapped a streak of 11 straight games in which UCSB had either outrebounded its opponent or had the exact same rebound total as its opponent. After being outrebounded in the season-opener, UCSB went on its 11 game run. In the last 12 games, including the Utah State game, they have outrebounded their opponents by a margin of 67, an average of 5.6 per game. UCSB has outrebounded USF, USC, St. Mary's, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton, Detroit Mercy, Santa Clara and Idaho, and they fought to a rebounding draw with BYU. Thursday against Idaho, UCSB produced a 40-20 rebound advantage, the biggest of the season. On the year, UCSB is outrebounding the opposition by 4.9 rebounds per game, 36.4 to 31.5. Senior forward Adama Ndiaye leads the team at 8.5 boards per outing. Mark Hull is second at 4.9 per game and Branduinn Fullove is third at 4.8 per game. Bray Skultety, who is averaging 4.2 rebounds per game and Nick Jones, who is averagign 4.0 rebounds per game, gives UCSB five players at or above the 4.0 rebounds per game mark. Eight Gauchos are currently averaging 2.1 or more rebounds per game.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has had at least two assists in all 13 games.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Has scored 20 or more points in three of the last four games.
G - Mark Hull - Has made at least one three-point basket in all 13 games.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Has been in double-figures in each of the last two games.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Has made 14-of-25 shots over the last eight games, 56.0%.

Probable Reserves - Notes
F - Mike Vukovich - Has made 18-of-29 shots over the last nine games, 62.1%.
G - Nick Jones - Has averaged 6.0 rebounds per game in the last two games.
G - B.J. Ward - In his last ten games, he has 36 assists and just 14 turnovers.
F - Casey Cook - Thumb injury on shooting hand will sideline him indefinitely.
F - Bray Skultety - Has had at least four rebounds in six of the last seven games.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Played a season-high seven minutes, with four points and two assists vs. Detroit.
G - Chris Newell - Played one minute at USF, his first career action.
F - J.J. Todd - Saw his first minute of action against Idaho.

Getting Defensive
Utah State shot 46.7% on Saturday, the highest mark by a Gaucho opponent this season. In fact, the 46.7% performance was the first over 45.0% mark by a UCSB opponent this season. Still, through 13 games this season, UCSB is limiting its opposition to 36.0% shooting from the field. The Gauchos have limited nine of 13 opponents to less than 40.0% shooting and three opponents have shot below the 30.0% mark. UCSB has allowed opponents to shoot better than 50.0% in just two halves this season. Santa Clara shot exactly 50.0% in the second half and BYU made 53.8% in the first half. In 26 halves this season, UCSB has limited the opposition to below 30.0% eight times, below 40.0% 16 times, below 45.0% 20 times and below 50.0% 24 times.

Pointless Opposition
In addition to limiting its opponents to a 36.0% field goal percentage defense, UCSB has limited opponents to just 57.8 points per game. The Gauchos have limited nine of 13 opponents to 60 points or less and two opponents, Westmont and USF, to fewer than 50. Only two UCSB opponents have scored more than 70 points. Loyola Marymount's 77 is the most scored by a Gaucho opponent this season.

Sticky Fingers
In each of the first three games this season, UCSB had more turnovers than assists. They had 20 turnovers and just ten assists against Westmont, 17 turnovers and 12 assists at USF, and then 18 turnovers and 13 assists at USC. In nine of the last ten games, however, they have turned the tables. Against Utah State, the Gauchos had a season-low seven turnovers. In the last six games, they have averaged 12.0 turnovers as compared to 16.5 per game over the first seven games. In fact, the Gauchos have had a positive assist to turnover ratio in each of the last six games.

General Assistance
On the season, UCSB has assisted on 201 of 296 field goals, 67.9%. The Gaucho opponents have assisted on 140 of 249, 56.2%. In the last two games, UCSB has had the long and the short of it on the assist front. In Thursday's win over Idaho, they passed off for a season-high 24 assists, but in the loss to Utah State on Saturday, they had a season-low nine assists.

A Defensive Exception
The Gauchos have been very good defensively this season, but in the last four games, they have struggled to defend three-point territory. On the year, UCSB opponents are making 31.3% from three-point range, but in the last four games, Detroit, Santa Clara, Idaho and Utah State have nailed 34-of-78, 44.0%. Last Thursday, Idaho made 10-of-22 from beyond the arc, good for 45.5%, the highest mark by a Gaucho opponent this season.

Taking Their Best Shots
As long as UCSB is limiting its opposition to 36.0% shooting from the field overall, it should generally be in games. At the other end of the court, the Gauchos are shooting 45.2% as a team. In the win over Idaho last Thursday, UCSB shot a season-best 57.4%, but on Saturday against Utah State, they made just 36.2%, the second lowest mark of the season. Still, Santa Barbara has made 50.0% or better from the field six times, all in the last nine games. Over the last nine games, the team has made 48.0% from the field. Additionally, despite making just 3-of-16 from three-point range on Saturday, UCSB has made 36 of its last 90 from beyond the stripe, a solid 40.0%.

Hull Hopes To Shake Shooting Slump
Junior Mark Hull remains UCSB's leading scorer with a scoring average of 15.9 points per game, but in the last two games he has struggled on the offensive end, averaging just 6.5 points per game and making just 5-of-24 shots from the floor. Hull, who leads the Gauchos in three-point baskets, is settling for outside shots in recent games and there are two indicators of that. First off, the 6-foot-7 graduate of Glendale's Hoover High School has attempted 67 shots in the last five games, 44 of which have come from three-point range. Secondly, in those same five games, Hull has attempted just 13 free throws, 11 in a game at Cal State Fullerton, two in a win over Detroit and none in each of the last three games. Prior to the most recent two games, Hull had scored in double-figures 11 consecutive games, the longest streak of his career. In a December 22 win at Cal State Fullerton, he poured in a career-high 32 points, including 29 in the second half and 20 in a row at one point. In addition, Hull nailed six consecutive three-point baskets in that game and finished with a career-high seven threes. Hull has been over the 20 point plateau four times this season, going for 27 on December 5 at Loyola Marymount, 23 on November 28 against BYU and 20 on December 29 at Santa Clara. Interestingly, four of Hull's top five scoring efforts have come away from home. He is averaging 19.3 points per game away from Santa Barbara and 12.0 per game at the Thunderdome. He is shooting 46.9% away from home and 35.8% at the Thunderdome. Hull is the only Gaucho to make at least one three-pointer in each game and he ranks second on the team in rebounding at 4.9 per outing. Finally, he enters this week's games with 886 career points and needs just 14 points to hit the 900 point mark. Hull has also made 103 career three-point baskets, the fifth highest total in school history.

Fullove's Full Plate
Like Hull, sophomore guard Branduinn Fullove suffered through a tough stretch at one point early in the season, but he has bounced back nicely. Since hitting just 7-of-33 shots over a three game span between November 28 and December 5, he has turned it around. In the last seven games, Fullove has made 35-of-64 shots from the field, 54.7%, and 16-of-34 from three-point range, 47.1%. He ranks second on the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game and, like Hull, he has scored in double-figures in all but two games this season. Fullove has scored 20 or more points in four games this season, including three times in the last four games and, for the first time in his career, he has scored 20 or more in two consecutive games, doing so in last week's games against Idaho and Utah State. He is second on the team with 26 three-pointers and made a season-high five last week against Idaho. In addition to his scoring exploits, the Simi Valley High School graduate is the only Gaucho player this year to record at least one point, one rebound and one assist in all 13 games. He is third on the team in rebounding at 4.8 per game and he had a season-high eight in a December 29 game at Santa Clara. His is third on the team in assists at 2.8 per game and his season-high of six assists came in a win over Idaho on December 3. Fullove is also arguably the team's most dependable threat from the free throw line as well, making 86.0% and hitting 26 in a row at one point.

The Scoop On Ndiaye
Adama Ndiaye has become one of UCSB's most consistent players. He enters this week's games as the team's third leading scorer at 9.9 points per game, and its leading rebounder at 8.5 per game. Since scoring in single-digits in each of the first five games of the season, Ndiaye has scored in double-figures six times in eight games. In the first five, he averaged 7.0 points per contest and shot 40.0%, in the last eight, he has averaged 11.7 and shot 53.7%. Ironically, Ndiaye was in double-figures in rebounding three times in the first five games, but has only been in double-figures twice in the last eight. In last Thursday's game against Idaho, he had his double-double of the season as he tallied 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Ndiaye has led the Gauchos in rebounding nine times this season, including each of the last five consecutive games. Finally, he has blocked at least one shot in 12 of 13 games, including each of the last ten, and he has two or more blocks eight times. In his career, Ndiaye has now swatted 96 shots, needing four to become the third Gaucho in history to eclipse the 100 blocked shot mark.

The Nick Of Time
Nick Jones has assumed the role of UCSB's energizer off the bench. Although he has come off the pine in all 13 games this season, Jones is fourth on the team in scoring (7.8 points per game) and rebounding (4.0 per game). Since opening the year with a 1-for-7 shooting performance against Westmont College, Jones has made 37-of-74, exactly 50.0%. Also, since starting the season by hitting just 25.0% of his three-pointers in the first six games, he has made 50.0% in the last seven games. Jones has scored in double-figures four times this season, including a season-high 12 points in a win at Cal State Fullerton on December 22. In the game against Fullerton, he scored the final three on three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to give UCSB a two-point win. Jones has also been a consistent rebounder, pulling down at least four in eight of 13 games, including each of the last three. He has a season-high seven boards twice this season.

I'll Take Atako
While Jacoby Atako's shooting has suffered in recent games, he is developing into a pretty dependable point guard. On the year, he leads UCSB in assists with an average of 3.9 per game. In the last six games, he has averaged 4.5 assists and only 1.8 turnovers per game. Atako had a season-high eight assists in a win at UC Riverside, the second highest total of his career. In last week's win over Idaho, he had seven assists and just two turnovers. In fact, Atako has gone the last four games with more assists than turnovers and, on the season, he has only had more turnovers than assists in a game once. A Santa Monica High School graduate, Atako is now averaging 4.2 points per game, but he is shooting just 33.3% from the floor overall and just 25.0% (7-of-28) in the last six games.

Ward Of The Court
Junior B.J. Ward is the second half of a pretty solid point guard combination. He is second on the team in assists with 41, an average of 3.2 per game, and he paces the team in assist-to-turnover ratio at just over 2.0-to-1.0. Combined, Ward and Atako have produced 92 assists (7.1 per game) and just 51 turnovers (3.9 per game). In the last ten games, Ward has had 36 assists and just 14 turnovers. In addition, he is averaging 4.2 points per game and has made exactly 50.0% of his shots on the season. Ward nailed his first three-pointer of the season in Saturday's loss to Utah State. Finally, he is among the top free throw shooters in the Big West at 88.6%, and if you include his last seven games last season when he hit 13-of-14 free throws, Ward has made 44 of his last 49, 89.7%, a far cry from the 52.5% he shot prior to the final seven games last season.

Two Heads Better Than One
Forwards Bryan WhiteHEAD and Bray SKULtety have become a two-headed (Get it?) rebounding monster at the four spot for the Gauchos. Whitehead has started the last seven games, and while he is averaging 2.7 points and 2.8 rebounds overall, he is contributing 4.0 points and 4.0 rebounds since becoming a starter. Skultety is really a story. A walk-on who did not play high school basketball, he came out for the team in his third year of college last year. While he didn't get into a game last season, the injury to Casey Cook has given him an opportunity this year. After playing sparingly in the first six games of the season, Skultety has played extensively in the last seven, averaging 11.4 minutes and 4.6 rebounds over that span. In fact, the native of San Diego is averaging 16.1 rebounds per 40 minutes played over the last seven games, the top figure on the team. In the last seven games, the WhiteHEAD-SKULtety duo is combining for 8.6 rebounds in a combined average of 29.5 minutes per game. Also, while they don't take a lot of shots, together they have made 20-of-34 shots from the field over the last seven games, a very solid 58.8%.

On The Horizon
Following this week's games, the Gauchos will be off until Saturday, January 19 when they travel to San Luis Obispo to take on Cal Poly in a 7:00 p.m. game. UCSB will return home to host UC Irvine on Thursday, January 24 and Long Beach State on Saturday, January 26. Both games will tip at 7:00 p.m.