Jan. 31, 2004
Santa Barbara, Calif. - Tonight UC Santa Barbara hosts Cal State Fullerton after moving solely into third place in the Big West with a 66-52 win over visiting UC Riverside. The Gauchos, 11-6 overall and 5-3 in league play, have won three home contests in a row, while winning four of their last five games. Fullerton enters tonight's game with an overall record of 6-10 and a league mark of 2-5. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on KTLKM 1340 AM.
UC Santa Barbara Probable Starters
Starting in the backcourt for UC Santa Barbara will be seniors Jacoby Atako, Branduinn Fullove, and Nick Jones. Atako, though not scoring much more than his career average, has made significant improvements on the offensive end of the floor. He is averaging 6.3 points per game, 5.9 in league play alone, and has dished out a team-high 42 assists. But what is most improved is his .493 field goal percentage. If this mark withstands the rest of the season, he will finish 15 points higher in percentage than his career mark at UCSB. Fullove rebounded nicely against UC Riverside after struggling against Pacific. He scored a game-high 19 points against the Highlanders and dished out five assists. The senior has scored 1,272 career points and needs just 80 more to move into sixth place all-time at UCSB. Jones, the only Gaucho to play well against Pacific, couldn't find the basket against Riverside. He finished 0-2 with zero points and was the only regular not to score. Again, Casey Cook is still questionable for tonight's game, though he did log 12 minutes against Riverside. He will probably come off the bench, which means senior Bryan Whitehead and sophomore Cameron Goettsche will get the start. Whitehead is scoring just 4.2 points per game on the season, but he has been one of Santa Barbara's most consistent rebounders, averaging 5.3 boards per game. Thursday night Whitehead pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. He has had four or more rebounds in 12 of the 17 games so far this season. Goettsche is scoring 8.1 points per game, 9.1 in conference games, and is putting in time on the glass as well. He is pulling down 5.4 rebounds per game overall and an even five in Big West games.
Cal State Fullerton Probable Starters
Starting in the backcourt for Cal State Fullerton will be David Warsaw and Bobby Brown. Warsaw, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, is averaging 5.6 points per game after returning to the Titan line-up just five games ago. Brown, a 6-foot freshman, is second on the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game. He leads the team with 62 assists on the year and also pulls down two rebounds a game. On the blocks for Fullerton will be 6-foot-7 seniors Anthony Bolton and Bron Groomes. Bolton is third on the team in scoring with 11.6 points per game and leads the team in three-point percentage at 41%. He is averaging 5.7 rebounds per game and is second on the team with 38 assists. Groomes is scoring 5.7 points per contest and is pulling down 2.5 boards as well. Starting at center for CSUF will be 6-foot-11 senior Pape Sow. Sow is leading the team in just about every category. His 17.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game are tops for the Titans, along with his nine blocks, 29 steals, and .536 shooting percentage.
Scouting the Gauchos
Scouting the Gauchos this season is just about as close to impossible as something can be. You never know which team is going to take the floor on any given night. It could be the team that upset UCLA, Hawaii and Pepperdine, or it could be the one that lost to Long Beach, Southwest Missouri State, and got demolished by Pacific. The fun doesn't stop there. It is impossible to tell who will do the scoring for Santa Barbara. If could be reigning Big West Player of the Year Branduinn Fullove putting the ball in the basket, or he could walk away with only one point. Or possibly it could be Casey Cook and Nick Jones that get the job done. Sometimes it may even be a role player like sharpshooter Joe See, but all of these guys have struggled in at least a couple of games this season. In all, the Gauchos have had seven players lead the team in scoring and nine have scored in double figures in at least one game. Indeed this makes for an extremely balanced team, but when the stars are aligned in the wrong manner, games like the one in Pacific happen. What remains more important than scoring is both defense and rebounding. If UCSB can out-rebound teams and beat them on the defensive end of the floor, enough points should be scored to earn victories. As a team, the Gauchos are outrebounding opponents by 5.2 rebounds per game. This will be important tonight as Fullerton's front line boasts 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-11 seniors. Santa Barbara is holding opponents to .433 shooting from the floor and an even 33% from behind the three-point line.
Scouting the Titans
Shutting down the Titans clearly begins with controlling Sow. He has the ability to take games over from the post-position with great hands, a good scoring touch, and an NBA-like 6-foot-11 frame. The task of keeping Sow grounded will not be left up to just the forwards though, guards will be asked to pressure the ball at the point to make passes in Sow's direction difficult and weak-side Gauchos will be flying his way as soon as he touches his ball to double and create confusion. Aside from Sow, or because of Sow, the Titans do some things as a team very well. Like Santa Barbara, Fullerton has made it a point to crash the boards hard, and CSUF has established a +5.9 rebounding margin over the course of the season. The Titans are shooting 44% from the floor as a team and they create turnovers well with the combination of blocked shots and steals.
What To Look For
Look for Santa Barbara to continue their dominating play at the Thurderdome. The Gauchos are riding a three-game home winning streak and want nothing more than to continue their successful play at home. Fullove is back on track so look for him to put the ball in the basket, but also keep an eye on the Titans. CSUF knocked off Santa Barbara in overtime at the Thurderdome last season and the loss left bitter memories in the minds of the Gauchos.