Jan. 16, 2003
Tonight the Gauchos host Cal State Northridge in a Big West Conference battle. Santa Barbara enters the game with a record of 2-2 in conference, 5-9 overall, while Northridge is 0-3 in the Big West and 6-7 overall. The game will be held at Santa Barbara's Thunderdome and will be broadcast on KEYT 1250.
UCSB Probable Starting Lineup:
Beginning the home stand for the Gauchos will be the same starting five that have taken the court throughout conference play. Jacoby Atako will run the point for UCSB. Atako has dished out 44 assists on the season, that's 3.1 per game. Additionally, Atako is knocking down 4.2 points per game and is shooting 36.8% from the field. Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones will be at the wings for Santa Barbara. Fullove is back, fresh off a groin injury, but ready to get back into the swing of things. Fullove is UCSB's leading scorer on the year at 15 points per contest. Last game, against Utah State, Fullove struggled a bit turning in his first single digit scoring game in his last six. However, in the previous game against Idaho, Fullove passed the 900-point mark on his career. Tonight Fullove will look to add to that total. Jones will be on the other wing where he is averaging 13.6 points per game. He is also the Gaucho's leading rebounder pulling down 5.9 boards per game. Jones has scored in double figures in four straight games and 12 times on the season. He is also second on the team in three-point percentage netting 43% from beyond the arc. On the blocks for UCSB will be the always steady Mark Hull and the youngster Casey Cook. Hull has been on fire during conference play scoring three more points per game then he is overall. In league play he is averaging 18.2 points per game and has knocked down 13 of 29 threes. He is also tied for the team lead in assists and rebounds per Big West Conference game. Cook, the lone sophomore in the starting lineup, has worked himself in by hitting the boards and shooting 60% from the floor. Cook is grabbing 4.5 rebounds per game in league play and has sunk 7 of 10 free throw attempts.
Cal State Northridge Probable Starting Lineup:
Starting in the backcourt for the Matadors will be Justice Graham and Curtis Slaughter. Graham, a 6'5" junior, is averaging 6.8 points per game and has drilled 9 of 12 free throws. Slaughter is the second leading scorer for Northridge at 11.4 points per game. He is also second on the team in rebounding at 4.7 boards per game. Slaughter knows how to pass the rock as well, leading the Matadors with 50 assists. At the forward position for Northridge will be Ian Boylan and Lionel Benjamin. Boylan is the team's leading scorer on the season bringing in 15.2 points per game. In fact, there is hardly a stat for Northridge that Boylan doesn't lead in. He has hit the most threes, 24, has the best free throw percentage at 80%, and leads in rebounds and steals. Across from him is Benjamin. Benjamin is averaging 5.8 points per game and seems to spend a majority of his time down low. He is tied with Boylan for the team lead in rebounds at 5 per game and has only attempted one three-pointer on the season. At the center position for the Matadors will be Armand Thomas. Thomas is averaging 5.8 points per game as well and is grabbing 4 rebounds per game.
Scouting the Matadors:
Northridge is on a five game loosing streak and has lost all three games in Big West Conference play. However, as a team they do some things very well. The Matadors are shooting better then their opponents accumulating a .465 shooting percentage as opposed to their opponents' .445. They are also outscoring their opponents by a margin of five points on the season. The Matadors consistently hit 70% of their free throws and they have a +1.7 turnover margin. Importantly, most of these numbers stem from a solid preseason in which Northridge started 6-2. The go-to guy for CSUN has been Ian Boylan. The 6'6" sophomore forward leads the team in many statistical categories including points, rebounds and minutes. He is also second on the Big West 20-point scoring list, having scored more then 20 in five games. The Gauchos will definitely have to keep their eyes on him. The only other real threat for the Matadors has been Curtis Slaughter who is second to Boylan in most categories. Importantly, coming off the bench for CSUN is their third biggest threat, John Clark. Clark, a 6'5" junior guard, is averaging just below 11 points per game.
Scouting the Gauchos:
Santa Barbara has traditionally had their way against Northridge winning 18 of the 22 games they have played. If Santa Barbara can play their game then tonight should be no different. UCSB is out shooting opponents from the three-point line by almost two threes a game. With the return of a healthy Fullove, don't be surprised to see Santa Barbara light it up from outside tonight. In most other statistical categories the Gauchos are behind their opponents. UCSB has a lower free throw percentage, has been out rebounded and has half as many blocks as its opponents. Yet Santa Barbara finds a way to win, especially in the Thunderdome. The Gauchos will spread the floor, take a lot of outside shots, and hope that Jones and Cook can clean off the glass. On the defensive end, Jones, Brown and whoever else guards Boylan must slow the Matador scorer. If that happens and the Gauchos make their shots from the outside, Santa Barbara will move to 4-1 when playing at the Thunderdome.
The key to tonight's game will be the traditional Gaucho rotation against Ian Boylan. Coach Williams will likely send a number of players after Boylan in hopes of keeping a fresh body on him at all times. Nick Jones will probably get the starting nod against him as Jones has proven he can defend most forwards at this level. Cecil Brown and Josh Davis will also see time against Boylan off the bench. Brown has been a spark plug on the defensive side for the Gauchos as his intensity and quickness take his opponents out of the game. Hull might also see time on Boylan but he'll most likely be called on to defend the taller Matadors. Whoever it is, the biggest task for the Gauchos tonight will be keeping Boylan under control.
What to look for:
Look for the Northridge slide to continue. The Gauchos are excited to have a home stand that will allow them the opportunity to move up in Big West rankings. These next two games will begin to separate the men from the boys and look for Santa Barbara to jump into the group of men. Northridge is struggling right now and UCSB is ready to take advantage of a team in the depths of the Thunderdome. It's been a long off-season for the Gauchos including many hours on the airplane and the bus. The Gauchos are very happy to be home for five of the next seven games so look for them to take advantage of this midseason luxury.