Men's Basketball Returns Home For Key Big West Games, UC Irvine Up Thursday In Showdown For First Place

Jan. 22, 2002

The Schedule
Game No. 17
Thursday, January 24, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Irvine Anteaters
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Game No. 18
Saturday, January 26, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Long Beach State 49ers
at UCSB's Thunderdome

The Gauchos On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live on KEYT radio, 1250 AM in Santa Barbara. Randy Lee is back for his fifth season as the play-by-play announcer and Don Ford returns for his sixth year as the primary color announcer. Much to the disgust of the listening public, UCSB Director of Athletic Media Relations Bill Mahoney will handle the color for selected road broadcasts.

UCSB On The Internet
The Official Athletic Site of UC Santa Barbara is Game recaps, weekly releases, boxscores, statistics and the occasional feature can all be found on the web. UCSB is proud member of the FANSonly network.

The Bob Williams Show
The Bob Williams airs Tuesday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on KEYT NewsRadio 1250 AM. The Voice of the Gauchos, Randy Lee, co-hosts the show with Williams. In addition to men's basketball, the show will feature other UCSB athletes and coaches. The Bob Williams show will not air on January 15 because of a UCSB women's basketball game. It will air two more times in January (22nd and 29th), four times in February (5th, 12th, 19th and 26th) and three times in March (5th, 12th and 19th).

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara will enter its game on Thursday night against UC Irvine, with an overall record of 11-5 and a Big West record of 5-2. The Gauchos are in a second-place tie with Cal State Northridge at 5-2, with both teams trailing first-place UCI (6-1) by a full game. UCSB won its last game, a 74-67 decision at Cal Poly on Saturday night. The victory over the Mustangs gave the Gauchos two wins in a three-game road stretch that also included games at Cal State Northridge and Pacific.

Ndiaye Selected Big West Co-Player Of The Week
Adama Ndiaye has been selected the Big West Conference co-Player of the Week after his career-best performance in Saturday's win at Cal Poly. In the victory over the Mustangs, Ndiaye scored a career-high 31 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked three shots. Because of injuries, he was forced to play a career-high total of minutes, logging just under 40. Ndiaye was joined by Cal State Northridge's Markus Carr as the other co-Player of the Week.

Fullove & Vukovich Remain Questionable For UC Irvine Game
Sophomore guard Branduinn Fullove and senior forward Mike Vukovich, who each missed Saturday's win at Cal Poly with injuries, remain questionable for Thursday night's game against Big West-leading UC Irvine. Fullove suffered a severe contusion of his upper right thigh in practice on January 17 and Vukovich suffered a subluxation of his right patella in practice on January 16. Fullove is averaging 14.5 points per game overall, 14.7 per game in Big West play. He is also second on the team in three-point baskets with 31 and he leads the team in three-point field goal percentage at 43.1%. Vukovich, a Second Team All-Big West choice last year, is averaging 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game while shooting 53.1% from the field in a reserve role.

Magnificent Seven Lead Depleted Gauchos To Win At Cal Poly
On Saturday, UCSB had 13 individuals in street clothes on its bench at Cal Poly. They had ten players in uniform. Fortunately the ten in uniform included senior forward Adama Ndiaye and junior swingman Mark Hull. Ndiaye, who played just a few seconds short of 40 minutes, scored a career-high 31 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked three shots, and Hull had 22 points, including 19 in a the decisive first half, to lead the Gauchos past the Mustangs, 74-67. The loss was Cal Poly's first at home this season. UCSB fell behind 16-9 just seven minutes into the game, but they finished the first half with a 34-12 run, taking a 15-point halftime lead. The Mustangs were able to cut the lead to three at one point in the second half, but they could never catch the Gauchos. UCSB, forced to play without starting guard Branduinn Fullove (14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists) and reserve forward Mike Vukovich (3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds), used just six players. Ndiaye and Hull each played more than 39 minutes. The Gauchos did an outstanding job defending the perimeter, limiting the Mustangs to just 4-of-27 from beyond the three-point arc, and they shot 55.1% in the victory. UCSB has now won the last seven games against Cal Poly.

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 11-5. 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 53-47 record. The 53 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 36-19 record in Big West games, a winning percentage of .655, 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. After an 0-8 start that first year, the Gauchos went 15-5. He was named Big West Coach of the Year in 1999. Since that 0-8 start in 1998-99, Williams' Gauchos have gone 53-39. 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 241-147 (.622) record.

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 12 successive games.

The Gauchos At Home
UCSB enters the week with a record of 5-1 at home. In their last home game, January 5, the Gauchos dropped a 60-56 decision to Utah State, snapping a seven game Thunderdome winning streak which included a 5-0 start this season.

The Gauchos On The Road
UCSB returns home after winning two out of three games in a road swing that included games at Cal Poly, Cal State Northridge and Pacific. All three games were decided by seven points or fewer with the Gauchos posting wins over Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge. The win at San Luis Obispo on Saturday gave UCSB a road record of 5-4 overall this season, 4-1 in Big West games. If you include a neutral court win over Detroit Mercy, the Gauchos have recorded a solid 6-4 mark away from the Thunderdome this year. Since the arrival of Bob Williams, UCSB has posted a Big West road record of 18-11.

The Opponents
UC Santa Barbara holds a 32-20 edge in its all-time series with UC Irvine, but the Anteaters have won the last three games in a row. Last year, UCI defeated the Gauchos in Irvine (80-56) and in Santa Barbara (66-56). UCSB's last win over UCI came at home during the 1999-2000 season by a score of 55-40. The Gauchos and Long Beach State have played 86 times with the 49ers holding a narrow 44-42 edge. UCSB and LBSU split two games last season with each team winning on the other team's court. The 49ers beat the Gauchos in Santa Barbara by a score of 76-75 and UCSB responded in kind with a 78-71 win in Long Beach just two weeks later.

On The Rebound
UCSB is outrebounding opponents by an average of 4.8 rebounds per game. The Gauchos have been outrebounded just one time in the last 15 games, winning 12 rebounding battles and tying two others. On the season, only Westmont and Utah State have won the rebounding battle with UCSB and they did so by just two and three rebounds respectively. After being outrebounded in the season-opener by Westmont, the Gauchos went the next 11 games without being outrebounded. UCSB has had good rebounding balance this season. While Adama Ndiaye leads the team at 8.3 rebounds per game, three other Gauchos are averaging 4.0 or more. Mark Hull is at 4.8 per game, Branduinn Fullove is at 4.7 per game and Bray Skultety is at 4.2 per game.

Win Big, Lose Small
In their 11 wins, the Gauchos have outscored the opposition by a total of 141 points, an average of 12.8 points per game. They have won seven games by ten or more points. UCSB has lost its five games by a total of 27 points, an average of 5.4 per game. The last four losses have come by a combined 16 points, an average of 4.0 per game. While we're at it, lets take it one more step, UCSB has lost the last three by two, three and four points, an average of 3.0 per game.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Had six assists at Cal Poly, his third highest total of the season.
G - Nick Jones - Struggled in his first start of the season, making 1-of-4 shots and scoring seven.
G - Mark Hull - Has averaged 20.0 ppg in the last two, making 7-of-11 from three-point range.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Scored career-high 31 at Cal Poly and is now averaging 14.1 ppg in Big West play.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Played career-high 26 at Cal Poly. Seven points was his second highest total.

Probable Reserves - Notes
F - Mike Vukovich - Remains doubtful with an injured right knee.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Doubtful for UC Irvine game with severe contusion on his right thigh.
G - B.J. Ward - In his last 13 games, he has 42 assists and just 17 turnovers.
F - Casey Cook - Thumb injury on shooting hand will sideline him indefinitely.
F - Bray Skultety - He is averaging 17.0 rebounds for every 40 minutes played, tops on the team.
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 - Has played a total of three minutes in two games this season.

Getting Defensive
UCSB continues to lead the Big West in field goal percentage defense with a mark of 36.6% as a team. In Saturday's win at Cal Poly, the Gauchos limited the Mustangs to 41.8% shooting from the field. Even more impressive, however, was the fact that Cal Poly, one of the league's best three-point shooting teams, was harassed into a dismal 4-of-27 from three-point territory, 14.8%. On the year, UCSB's opposition has made three more three-point baskets than the Gauchos, 98-95, but it has taken 16 opponents 92 more shots to accomplish the feat. UCSB is limiting the opposition a mere 29.4% from three-point range. While the 41.8% that Cal Poly shot was not the Gauchos' best defensive figure of the season, it came on a night with the team was missing a starter and a key reserve. In addition, it came one week after Pacific had shot 46.3%, the second best mark by a Gaucho opponent this season. In fact, the two highest marks by opponents this season have come in the last four games and each time it was the second game of a two-game Thursday-Saturday league sequence. On January 5, Utah State made a season-best 46.7%. Sandwiched in between the two highest percentages was one of the lowest, a 29.1% effort by Cal State Northridge. The Gauchos have limited ten of 16 opponents to less than 40.0% shooting and four opponents (Cal State Northridge, Pepperdine, USF and Westmont) have shot below the 30.0% mark. UCSB has allowed opponents to shoot better than 50.0% in just three halves this season and none to shoot better than 50.0% in a full game. Only Pacific, Santa Clara and BYU have made 50.0% or better in a half. In 32 halves this season, UCSB has limited the opposition to below 30.0% nine times, below 40.0% 20 times, below 45.0% 23 times and below 50.0% 29 times.

The Other Basket
In Saturday's victory over Cal Poly, UCSB made 27-of-49 shots from the field, 55.1%. It was the first time in four games that the Gauchos had made 50.0% or more of their shots. On the year, UCSB is now shooting a respectable 46.0% overall and an even more respectable 48.7% in Big West games. While the Gauchos have made 50.0% or better just one time in the last four games, they have hit 50.0% or better in seven games this season, all within the last 12 games, a span over which they have hit 48.0% of their shots. Santa Barbara's best shooting performance this season came in a January 3 win over Idaho when they hit 31-of-54 shots, 57.4%.

Pointless Opponents
When Santa Barbara limited Cal Poly to 67 points on Saturday, it marked the 13th time in 16 games this season that a Gaucho opponent was held to fewer than 70 points. The 70 point mark has been a good barometer of success for UCSB. The Gauchos are 11-2 when their opponent scores fewer than 70. The three teams to top the 70-point mark were Loyola Marymount (77), USC (73) and Pacific (74) and, tah-dah, all three posted wins. The only two teams to beat UCSB while scoring fewer than 70 points were Utah State (60) and Santa Clara (61). In 16 games, the Gauchos have held opponents to below 80 points 16 times, below 70 points 13 times, below 60 points nine times and below 50 points twice.

Three-Point Frenzy
Even without three-point percentage-leader Branduinn Fullove, UCSB made 50.0% of its three-point attempts on Saturday. On the season, the Gauchos are now hitting three-pointers at a rate of 39.4%, a major improvement over last season when they hit 32.7% from beyond the arc. In fact, in seven Big West games, Santa Barbara has hit an even more impressive 42.6% from three-point territory. In the last two games UCSB has made 12-of-23 three-point shots, 52.2%. In 16 games, the Gauchos have made 50.0% or better from three-point range five times and 40.0% or better ten times. Not too surprisingly, UCSB has a record of 8-1 when they attempt 15 or fewer three-pointers. As mentioned above, Fullove leads the Gauchos at 43.1% from three-point range and he is followed by Mark Hull who is shooting 42.6%. Hull leads the team in three-point baskets with 43 and he has combined with Fullove for 74 of UCSB's 95 three-point buckets.

A Paragraph Chock Full Of Information
The last time the Gauchos started as good or better than 11-5 overall was in 1991-92 when they opened the season with a 12-4 record.

Bray Skultety has made ten field goals this season and six have come via the slam dunk.

Last season, UCSB blocked a total of 63 shots in 28 games. This season, the Gauchos have blocked 54 shots in 16 games.

A little more last year-this year comparison. Last year, UCSB averaged 69.0 points per game overall, this year they are averaging just 66.2 points per game, a drop of 2.8 points. But, and if you'll pardon the expression, this is a big but, last year the Gauchos allowed 70.4 points per game and this year they have shaved 11.3 points off of that figure and they are allowing just 59.1 points per game. So, while the 2000-01 version of UCSB basketball was outscored by an average of -1.4 points per game, this year's Gauchos are outscoring their opponents by an average of +7.1 points per game. The net swing is an impressive 8.5 points per game, and that is nothing to sneeze at.

Hull Shakes Shooting Slump, Takes Aim At 1,000 Points
Junior Mark Hull remains UCSB's leading scorer with a scoring average of 16.0 points per game, and in the last two games he has shaken an offensive slump that stretched three games. In the last two games, Hull has averaged 20.0 points per game while making 12-of-24 shots overall and 7-of-11 (63.6%) from three-point range. In the three games prior to the last two, he struggled on the offensive end, averaging just 7.3 points per game and making just 8-of-34 shots from the floor, 23.5%. Hull has also played more aggressively in the last two games, and as a result, he has shot 13 free throws, eight more than he shot in the previous five games combined. Hull opened the season by scoring in double-figures in 11 straight games, the longest stretch of his career. He has now tallied ten or more points in 13 of 16 games. He has also made at least one three-point basket in all 16 games, easily the longest stretch of his career, he has made two or more 11 times and five or more three times. He drained a career-high seven three-pointers in a December 22 win at Cal State Fullerton, finishing with a career-high 32 points, 29 of which were scored in the second half. Hull also went 6-of-15 from three-point territory on December 29 at Santa Clara. The 15 three-point attempts in a game tied a school record also held by former Gaucho guards Brian Johnson and Carrick DeHart. Hull has been over the 20 point plateau five times this season, going for 27 on December 5 at Loyola Marymount, 23 on November 28 against BYU, 22 at Cal Poly on January 19 and 20 on December 29 at Santa Clara. Interestingly, six of Hull's top seven scoring efforts have come away from home. He is averaging 18.4 points per game away from Santa Barbara and 12.0 per game at the Thunderdome. He is shooting 46.0% away from home and 35.8% at the Thunderdome. Finally, he enters Thursday's game against UC Irvine with 935 career points and needs 65 to hit the 1,000 point mark. If he does get those 65 points this season, Hull would join Carrick DeHart as the only two players in school history to hit the 1,000 point mark during their junior seasons. Hull has also made 112 career three-point baskets, the fifth highest career total and his 43 this season are just two shy of the 45 he made last season.

Fullove's Full Plate
Sophomore guard Branduinn Fullove is doubtful for Thursday's UC Irvine game after suffering a severe contusion on his right thigh in practice last Thursday. Fullove, who missed his first game of the season on Saturday at Cal Poly, had his streak of outstanding scoring performances snapped in the January 12 loss at Pacific. Fullove made just 2-of-7 shots overall and finished with nine points. He remains second on the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game. In the five games prior to the game at Stockton, Fullove had averaged 18.4 points per game and he had scored 20 or more three times. Like Hull, he suffered through a tough shooting stretch at one point early in the season, but 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 his last nine games, including the 2-for-7 game at Pacific, Fullove has made 43-of-81 shots from the field, 53.1%, and 21-of-42 from three-point range, 50.0%. In Big West games he is averaging 14.7 points per game, also second on the team. Fullove has paced the team in scoring in three of his last four games and he has been in double-figures a team-high 12 times in 15 games. He has scored 20 or more points in four games this season, including three times in his last six games and, for the first time in his career, he scored 20 or more in two consecutive games, doing so in games against Idaho and Utah State. In his last six games, Fullove is scoring at a 16.9 points per game clip. He is second on the team with 31 three-pointers and made a season-high five on January 3 against Idaho. Fullove has now made 59-of-146 three-pointers as a Gaucho, 40.4%, a mark that would place him fifth on the school's career list. 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 every game he has played. He is third on the team in rebounding at 4.7 per game and he had a season-high eight in a December 29 game at Santa Clara. He is also third on the team in assists at 2.9 per game and his season-high of six assists came in a win over Idaho on December 3. He had five assists at Pacific and has now had five or more in four games. Fullove is also arguably the team's most dependable threat from the free throw line, making 87.3% and hitting 26 in a row at one point. He currently holds a streak of 17 consecutive successful free throws.

Ndiaye Becomes An Offensive Force
Adama Ndiaye had the best game of his career in Saturday's win over Cal Poly, and it couldn't have come at a better time. The 6-foot-9 native of Dakar, Senegal, made 13-of-18 shots from the field, all five of his free throw attempts, and scored a career-high 31 points. In addition, Ndiaye had 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. In his last two games, he has made 18-of-24 shots, 75.0%, and averaged 24.0 points. On January 12 at Pacific, Ndiaye scored 17 points, but was limited to just a few minutes of playing time in the second half when he injured his right shoulder. With his 31-point performance, Ndiaye is now averaging 11.5 points per game, third on the team, and the highest average of his career. In seven Big West games, he is averaging 14.1 points per game. Overall, Ndiaye has his field goal percentage up to a season-high 53.5% and in Big West games he is shooting a sizzling 64.3%. In fact, since opening the season by making 11-of-30 shots in the first four games, he has drained 58-of-99, 58.9%. The double-double at Cal Poly was the third of the season for Ndiaye. It marked the sixth time he has had ten or more rebounds in a game this season. He has now scored in double-figures eight times, all during the last 11 games, a period over which he has averaged 13.5 points per game. He leads the team in both rebounding (8.3 per game) and blocked shots (28). Ndiaye is also at a season-high in free throw percentage at 71.9%. In the game at Cal Poly, he nailed 5-of-5 and over the last seven games, he has canned 30-of-35, 85.7%. Finally, he has blocked at least one shot in 15 of 16 games, including each of the last 13, and he has two or more blocks nine times. Ndiaye has blocked a career-high five shots twice. In his career, Ndiaye has now swatted 101 shots. When he recorded the second of his three blocked shots on Saturday, he joined Eric McArthur (1986-90) and Doug Muse (1991-95) as the only Gauchos in history to produce 100 or more blocked shots.

The Point Guard Tag Team
Sophomore Jacoby Atako and junior B.J. Ward have taken to the role of a point guard tag team quite well. While Atako has started all 16 games, Ward has been an outstanding spark off the bench. Atako is averaging 27.1 minutes per game, a sizable increase over his average of 23.3 minutes per game. While his shooting has left something to be desired, he is averaging 4.6 points and a team-leading 3.8 assists per game. In Saturday's win at Cal Poly, he passed off for six assists and had just a pair of turnovers. On the year, Atako has a 1.52-to-1.0 assist to turnover ratio. He also ranks third on the team with 11 three-point baskets and he scored a career-high 13 points at Pacific on January 12, hitting a career-high three three-pointers in the process. Ward is averaging 18.0 minutes per game, but in the last 13 he is averaging 20 per game. He ranks second on the team at 2.9 assists per game and he has a team-best assist to turnover ratio of 2.04-to-1.0. In fact, in the last 13 games the ratio is an even more impressive 2.50-to-1.0 ratio. Ward has had more assists than turnovers in 12 of the last 13 games. He has also become the team's best free throw shooter, having made 33-of-37, 89.2%. Combined, the Atako-Ward tandem is averaging 45.1 minutes per game, 8.6 points, 6.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.8 rebounds and just 3.9 turnovers per game.

Two Heads Still Better Than One
In the last ten games, another duo has had a positive effect on Gaucho fortunes. I got rid of this one for a couple of releases, but I am bringing it back this week. The two-headed power forward tandem of Bryan WhiteHEAD and Bray SKULtety (You figure it out.) has done a great job on the boards and they have done a solid job of handling the dirty work for UCSB. Whitehead has started the last ten games and is averaging 2.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Skultety, who has been the first forward off the bench in the last ten, is averaging 2.1 points and 4.2 rebounds. In the last ten, Whitehead-Skultety duo is averaging exactly 30 minutes per game and in those 30 minutes, they are combining for 6.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while making 27-of-46 shots from the field, 58.7%. The only downside has been their performances at the free throw line. Whitehead is 6-of-15, 40.0%, and Skultety is 3-of-7, 42.9%.

Keeping Up With Jones
Sophomore guard Nick Jones continues to have his problems on the offensive end of the court. Making his first start of the season at Cal Poly, Jones played 24 minutes and made just 1-of-4 shots from the field. He did, however, score all seven of his points during the pivotal second half. Jones ranks fourth on the Gauchos in scoring at 7.4 points per game and he is shooting at a decent 45.3% clip, but he has failed to score in double-figures in six consecutive games and over that span he has averaged 6.7 points per game and shot 40.5% from the field overall. Over that same six game span, Jones has missed all six of his three-point shots and he has seen his three-point percentage fall from 45.0% after nine games to 34.6% now. On a brighter note, Jones tied his career-high with three assists in the win over Cal Poly and he made 5-of-6 free throws, improving to 65.7% on the season.

On The Horizon
Following the home games against UC Irvine and Long Beach State, the Gauchos will, surprise!, hit the road again. UCSB will play at Utah State on Thursday, January 31 at 6:00 p.m. (PST) and at the University of Idaho on Saturday, February 2 at 7:00 p.m.