January 18, 2003

Tonight's Game: UC Santa Barbara vs. Pacific

Jan. 18, 2003

Tonight the UCSB men's basketball team clashes with the league leading Pacific Tigers. Santa Barbara, 6-9 overall and 3-2 in the Big West, is coming off a 77-59 victory over Cal State Northridge in which five Gauchos scored in double figures. Pacific, 8-5 overall and 3-1 in the Big West, is coming off a 75-72 loss to Cal Poly. The game will be held in UCSB's Thunderdome and will be broadcast on KEYT 1250.

UCSB Probable Starting Lineup:
All five of the starters that played Thursday night against Northridge had very good games and all will start again tonight. Jacoby Atako, Nick Jones and Branduinn Fullove will be in the backcourt for Santa Barbara. Atako is coming off his best game of the year, against Northridge, in which he went 3-3 from the field and hit 5-6 free throws, finishing with 11 points. He also dished out seven assists. Fullove scored 15 against Northridge, his highest total since returning from an injured groin. However, Fullove has not been shooting the ball too well from the outside going 0-5 from three-point range in his last two games. Jones scored a season low five points against CSUN and has apparently cooled down a bit after a monstrous start. However, Jones is still averaging 13 points per game and a team leading 5.2 rebounds per game. At the forward spots for the Gauchos will be Mark Hull and Casey Cook. Hull led the team with 16 points against Northridge and has taken over the team lead in scoring at 15.1 points per game. In the last seven games Hull has scored in double figures and has shot 51% from beyond the arc. Cook is coming off his best game as a Gaucho as well where he scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Cook is averaging 5.7 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game.

Pacific Probable Starting Lineup:
Starting in the backcourt for the Tigers will likely be Demetrius Jackson and Miah Davis. Jackson has started every game this season for Pacific and leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.4 points per game. He is shooting 41% from the floor on 58 of 155 shooting. Jackson has drilled 25 of 70 three pointers and is lethal from the free throw line, hitting 39 of 47 freebies. Davis leads the team in minutes averaging 33 per game and he is scoring 10 points per game. He too is almost perfect from the free throw line having hit 31 of 35. Davis leads the team in assists with 45 on the season and he has 15 steals as well. The forwards for the Tigers will be Christian Maraker and Tom Cockle. Maraker is second on the team in scoring with 13.7 points per game, however, he leads the team with a .483 field goal percentage. Maraker also leads the team in rebounding by pulling down 7.2 boards per game. Cockle ranks fifth on the team in scoring with 5.8 points per game. He is second on the team in field goal percentage at 45% and he is grabbing 3.5 rebounds per contest. At the center position for Pacific will be Tim Johnson. Johnson is averaging two points per game and leads the team with 11 blocks.

Scouting the Tigers:
Pacific is coming to Santa Barbara after a tough loss to Cal Poly up in San Luis Obispo. The Tigers had established a 10-point lead with around 10 minutes to play in the game when Cal Poly came storming back and emerged victorious, 75-72. Demetrius Jackson is the biggest scoring threat that Pacific has. Against Cal Poly he finished with 23 points and drilled 3 of 6 three-pointers. Second to Jackson is Christian Maraker. Maraker, a freshman from Varberg, Sweden, scored 16 against Cal Poly and ripped down 10 rebounds as well. The first key to stopping the Tigers will be to contain these two players. Another key will be to keep Pacific off the free-throw line. The top four scorers for the Tigers all consistently hit 70% of their free throws and two sink above 80%. Pacific is a team that likes to attack and get to the line, so the Gauchos need to be prepared for this. As a team, Pacific has shot 273 three pointers, however, they only fall about 35% of the time. The top five scorers for the Tigers have all hit more then 10 threes but only one is shooting above 40% from beyond the arc. Lastly, the Tigers seem to have a pretty balanced scoring attack with four players averaging double-digit points.

Scouting the Gauchos:
Things are looking good in Santa Barbara right now. The Gauchos get to take on league leading Pacific in the Thunderdome, where UCSB has gone 4-1 this season. Additionally, some of the key players for Santa Barbara are coming on. Jacoby Atako is starting to come alive after scoring a season high against Northridge. It looks like he is getting his game going much like he did towards the second half of last season. Atako may be poised to prove that he is a second half player, a gamer, when the race for the tournament draws near. Fullove is back and is healthy, despite his shooting woes from outside. Indeed he has drawn iron on his last 10 three point shots, however, once he works the kinks out, he'll add the outside dimension the Gauchos have been waiting for. Hull is coming alive in conference play, averaging 18.2 points per game and shooting close to 45% from three-point range. And lastly, Casey Cook is coming around. Cook may pick up the most ticky-tack fouls of any Gaucho ever, but he is starting to come alive at the post. Cook's shooting percentage in conference play is .600 and he has increased his points per game to 6.2. Additionally, his 4.5 boards per game land him only behind Hull and Jones, who both are grabbing 5.2 per game.

Key Match-up:
The key match-up for tonight's game will be the Pacific big men versus the Santa Barbara little men who play like big men. Matt Kemper is 6'8" and Christian Maraker is 6'9". The key is going to be to keep these guys off the boards and there is no doubt Casey Cook and Mark Hull will be asked to do this. Maraker is a scorer who plays outside a lot, so it's possible a number of different Gauchos will take their turns on him. Kemper also plays outside a bit but most importantly, the two average a combined 14 rebounds per game. If the Gauchos can keep them off the glass then Santa Barbara has a good chance to climb the ladder of the Big West standings.

What to look for:
Look for the Gauchos to continue their success at home and improve in Big West play. However, be prepared to see UCSB blow a lead at some point during the second half as that seems to be the trend this season. Many times Santa Barbara has jumped out to an early lead only to see it evaporate during the second half. Luckily, on a couple occasions the Gauchos have managed to come out with a victory, but if the players don't start finishing the games with the same intensity they begin them with, blown leads will become commonplace. Yet, the Gauchos always find a way at home, the Locos will be in attendance and Coach Williams will have the team prepared to make a move to the top spot in the Big West Conference.