Men's Basketball Returns Home With Three Game Winning Streak, Hosts Idaho & Cal Poly

Men's Basketball Returns Home With Three Game Winning Streak, Hosts Idaho & Cal Poly

Feb. 7, 2001

Note: A PDF version of this release is available on the Men's Basketball page of the website.

The Schedule
Game No. 20
Thursday, February 8, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at University of Idaho Vandals
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Game No. 21
Saturday, February 10, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Cal Poly Mustangs
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Game No. 22
Thursday, February 15, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Utah State Aggies
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Nov. 19 - at Pepperdine 64, UCSB 53
Nov. 21 - USF 77, UCSB 74 (OT)
Nov. 25 - at BYU 67, UCSB 53
Nov. 29 - at UCLA 83, UCSB 77
Dec. 2 - UCSB 57, Westmont College 50 (OT)
Dec. 6 - UCSB 80, San Diego State 77 (3 OT)
Dec. 9 - USC 75, UCSB 73
Dec. 22 - at St. Mary's 71, UCSB 63
Dec. 27 - at UC Riverside 63, UCSB 59
Dec. 30 - UCSB 85, Loyola Marymount 69
Jan. 4 - *UCSB 81, Boise State 75
Jan. 11 - *UCSB 74, at Cal State Fullerton 71
Jan. 13 - *at UC Irvine 80, UCSB 56
Jan. 18 - *Long Beach State 76, UCSB 75
Jan. 20 - *at Idaho 68, UCSB 67
Jan. 25 - *UC Irvine 66, UCSB 56
Jan. 27 - *UCSB 94 Cal State Fullerton 69
Feb. 1 - *UCSB 78, at Long Beach State 71
Feb. 3 - *UCSB 73, at Pacific 67
Feb. 8 - *Idaho - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 10 - *Cal Poly - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 15 - *Utah State - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 17 - UC Riverside - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 22 - *at Cal Poly - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 24 - *Pacific - 3:00 p.m.
Mar. 1 - *at Utah State
Mar. 3 - *at Boise State
Mar. 8-10 - Big West Tournament

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 fourth season as the play-by-play announcer and Don Ford returns for his fifth year as the primary color announcer. Much to the chagrin of the listening public, UCSB Director of Athletic Media Relations Bill Mahoney will handle the color for selected road broadcasts.

The Gauchos On
In addition to KEYT radio, all UCSB basketball broadcasts can be accessed on the internet at either or at UCSB's official athletic website,

UCSB On The Internet
The Official Athletic Site of UC Santa Barbara is UCSB is part of the FANSonly network.

The UCSB Coaches Show
The Gaucho Coaches Show, hosted by Randy Lee, can be heard every Tuesday night during the basketball season at 6:30 p.m. on KEYT Newsradio, 1250 AM.

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters this week's games with an overall record of 8-11 and a Big West mark of 5-4. The Gauchos have won three straight games for the second time this season and that has carried them into a third-place tie in the Big West with Long Beach State. The current three game winning streak ties the team's longest of the year. UCSB defeated Loyola Marymount, Boise State and Cal State Fullerton in successive games in January.

Vukovich Named Big West Player Of The Week
Junior forward Mike Vukovich was named Big West Player of the Week for his performances in Gaucho wins on the road at Long Beach State and Pacific. In the victory at Pacific, Vukovich was unstoppable, making a school-record 12-for-12 from the field and scoring a career-high 27 points. In addition, he had eight rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a pair of steals. In Thursday's come-from-behind win at Long Beach, Vukovich had 14 points, five rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal. In that one, he made all six of his free throws and 4-of-7 shots from the field. In the two games, Vukovich averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 blocked shots and 1.5 steals per game. He made 16-of-19 field goals, 84.2% and 9-of-11 free throws, 81.8%. Vukovich is UCSB's first Big West Player of the Week this season.

Gauchos Sweep LBSU-Pacific Trip For First Time
On Thursday, UC Santa Barbara trailed Long Beach State by 11 points on ten different occasions, the last time coming with just under nine minutes to play. At that point, the Gauchos went on a 23-3 run to take a nine point lead, ultimately winning 78-71, their first win ever at the Pyramid and their first win in Long Beach since the 1993-94 season. On Saturday, no comeback was needed as UCSB jumped out to a 10-0 lead at Pacific, led by as many as 15 in the second half and won 73-67. UCSB has now won three straight games in Stockton and overall they have won five in a row against the Tigers. The back-to-back road wins marked the first time ever that the Gauchos recorded a sweep of the Long Beach State-Pacific road swing, a trip that has existed in the Big West for the last five seasons.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his third season as head coach at UCSB. Last year he guided the Gauchos to a 14-14 overall record and a solid 10-6 mark in Big West play. He is the first coach in UCSB history to open his career with back-to-back seasons of .500 or better. In addition, he led the Gauchos to a record of 22-10 in league play in his first two seasons, a winning percentage of .687, the best two-year league mark in school history. In his first season, Williams led UCSB to the Big West's Western Division championship, a 15-13 record overall and a 12-4 record in league. He was named Big West Coach of the Year in 1999. Williams has posted a 37-38 overall record as head coach of the Gauchos. Including this year, his Big West record is 27-14 (.650). In his career, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 226-138 record.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Had six assists and only one turnover in win at Pacific.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Has made at least one three-pointer in ten straight games.
G - Nick Jones - Averaged 16.0 ppg and 4.5 rpg while shooting 54.2% from field in last week's wins.
F - Mark Hull - Has averaged 4.0 assists per game in last three, including career-high five at LBSU.
F - Mike Vukovich - Scored career-high 27 and made school-record 12-for-12 from field at UOP.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Leads the team with 24 steals on the season.
G - LaRon Bryant - Despite missing five games, he leads team with 28 three-point baskets.
F - Juliano Jordani - Has shot 52.4% in the last six games.
F - Casey Cook - Has made 12-of-22 shots from the field in the last four games, 54.5%.
F - J.J. Todd - Had six boards vs. CSUF, doubling his total for the season.
G - LaDonte King - Went 3-for-3 from floor with career-high seven points vs. CSUF.

Ndiaye Will Redshirt Season
Adama Ndiaye, who was expected to be one of the top frontcourt players in the Big West this season, will redshirt, head coach Bob Williams announced last week. On November 16, Ndiaye fractured the ring finger on his left hand. On November 17, he had a pin placed in the finger, and he has remained sidelined ever since and will be unable to compete for the remainder of the season.

The Opposition
UCSB and Idaho will meet for the second time this season. On January 20, the Vandals nipped the Gauchos 68-67 in Moscow, Idaho. The victory snapped a two game Gaucho winning streak in the series and UCSB now holds a 7-4 advantage all-time. UCSB will enter Saturday's game against Cal Poly with a lifetime mark of 47-25 against the Mustangs. The Gauchos have won four in a row over Cal Poly, including both games last season. In 1999-2000, UCSB won in Santa Barbara by a 79-69 score.

Fabulous Februarys
Since Bob Williams arrived at UCSB for the 1998-99 season, the Gauchos have been pretty tough to beat in the month of February. This year, Santa Barbara has jumped to a 2-0 mark in the second month of the year, last year they went 7-1 in February and in Williams' first season, they were 6-2. For those of you who struggle with simple addition, that would add up to an outstanding 15-3, a winning percentage of 83.3%. In the three Februarys, the Gauchos have gone 8-2 in the road and 7-1 at home.

General Assistance
During their current three game winning streak, the Gauchos have nailed 86 field goals, assisting on 61 of them, 70.9%. In the first game of the streak, a win over Cal State Fullerton, the Gauchos assisted on 26 of 34 baskets. The 26 assists tied the eighth highest total in school history and it was the most since UCSB came up with 27 in a game against San Francisco State in December of 1997. While they have assisted on 70.9% of their baskets in the last three games, the Gauchos assisted on only 58.3% of their baskets in the first 16 games. From an individual standpoint, UCSB has had at least three players with three or more assists in each of the last three games. In fact, they have had at least four or more players with a pair of assists in each of the last three contests. In the home win over Cal State Fullerton, they had six players with three or more assists. Finally, three Gauchos are averaging 3.0 assists or more per game. Freshmen Jacoby Atako (3.26 per game) and Branduinn Fullove (3.25 per game) are joined by sophomore B.J. Ward (3.0 per game).

Youth Is Served
Not only is youth served, the Gauchos are serving it in huge helpings. Through 19 games, UCSB is utilizing its underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) at a tremendously high rate. Freshmen have recorded 1,700 of the team's 3,925 total minutes, 43.3%. Sophomores have played 1,062 minutes, 27.1%. Combined, the UCSB underclassmen have played 2,762 minutes, 70.4% of this season's available minutes. The Gauchos' only two seniors have played a total of 723 minutes, 18.4%.

n Class War
Here is a breakdown of UCSB primary statistics and percentages by class:

LaRon Bryant and Juliano Jordani
231 points - 17.4%
129 rebounds - 19.8%
26 assists - 9.4%
17 steals - 14.3%

Mike Vukovich and LaDonte King
230 points - 17.3%
109 rebounds - 16.8%
17 assists - 6.1%
18 steals - 15.1%
28 blocks - 63.6%

Mark Hull and B.J. Ward
352 points - 26.5%
130 rebounds - 20.0%
90 assists - 32.4%
42 steals - 35.3%

Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako, Nick Jones, Casey Cook and J.J. Todd
515 points - 38.8%
282 rebounds - 43.9%
144 assists - 51.8%
44 steals - 37.0%

A Fresh Approach
UCSB's starting lineup against Loyola Marymount on December 30 included a trio of freshmen. It was the first time on record that a Gaucho basketball team had started three freshmen. They have now gone with the three freshman lineup in their last ten games, recording a 6-4 record over that span.

Streaky Numbers
The reasons for UCSB's current three-game winning streak are pretty obvious when you look at the numbers. The Gauchos have shot 45.3% or better from the floor in the last three games, limiting the opposition to 42.9% or below. Combined, in the wins over Long Beach State, Pacific and Cal State Fullerton, the Gauchos made 86-of-165 from the field, 52.1%. Over that same period of time, they limited the opponents to 67-of-177 from the floor, 37.9%. While the Gauchos have not attempted a ton of three-pointers during the three game streak, their efficiency has been pretty good, while the efficiency of the opponents has not been too good. UCSB is 16-of-42, 38.1% from beyond the arc de trois in the last three contests. The trio of opponents, on the other hand, have gone a combined 19-of-74, 25.7%. And, as if that weren't enough, for the first time this season, the Gauchos have gone three consecutive games positive (or break even) assist to turnover ratio. In the wins over Cal State Fullerton and Pacific, they were actually on the plus side, and in the win at Long Beach, they were dead even. If they could turn the trick for a fourth straight time against Idaho on Thursday, it would be their first streak of that length since the 1998-99 season. In the last three games, UCSB has had 61 assists and 43 turnovers.

Field Goal Rollercoaster
The Gaucho field goal percentage rollercoaster continues to progress upwards. In Saturday's win at Pacific, UCSB shot 54.9% from the field, equaling its second best performance of the season. In the first nine games of the season, Santa Barbara made better than 45.0% from the field only one time, a 49.1% effort at UCLA. In those first nine games, they made less than 40.0% five times and they really bottomed-out with a 29.4% performance at BYU. In the first nine, UCSB shot a combined 36.5% to go 201-of-551 from the field. In the last ten games, they have been over 50.0% four times, over 45.0% seven times and over 40.0% nine times. In those last ten games, they have made 257-of-539, 47.7%. In fact, as a team, the Gauchos are now shooting 42.7% overall and 47.1% in Big West games. By contrast, last year's version of the Gauchos shot only 41.4% overall and 43.7% in Big West games. UCSB is paced by junior forward Mike Vukovich who is shooting an outstanding 58.9% overall and an even outstandinger 63.9% in league games. Freshman guard Nick Jones is second among regulars at 45.9% overall and 48.9 in Big West games.

Vukovich Tosses A Perfect Game
Don Larsen. Sandy Koufax. Mike Vukovich. What do these people have in common? Not a darn thing, really, but I thought it would make a pretty funny lead. Anyway, Vukovich tossed his version of a perfect game on Saturday at Pacific, making a school record 12-for-12 from the field. The junior from Huntington Beach finished the game with 27 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Vukovich's performance at Pacific, combined with his 14 point, five rebound, three blocked shot, two assist and one steal showing in a win at Long Beach State, earned him his first Big West Player of the Week honors. In fact, he is the first UCSB player this year to earn the award. Vukovich enters this week's games as the Gauchos' second leading scorer (11.7 ppg) and leading rebounder (5.7 rpg). In nine Big West games, his numbers are even more impressive as he leads the team in scoring (14.0 ppg), rebounding (6.4 rpg), steals (9), blocked shots (14) and field goal percentage (63.9%). Since a slow start this season, Vukovich has been one of the most valuable players on the team. Tossed into the fire, and the starting lineup, when Adama Ndiaye fractured his finger in the preseason, he struggled early, averaging 5.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in the first five games. In those first five, he made just 11-of-29 (37.9%) shots from the field, and 5-of-10 (50.0%) from the free throw line. In game six, however, a light went on and Vukovich hasn't been the same since. In the last 14 contests, he has averaged 14.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocked shots, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 assists per game. He has also made 82-of-129 from the field, 63.6%, and 32-of-45 from the free throw line, 71.1%. And, after scoring in double-figures just twice in his the first 54 games of his career, Vukovich has scored in double-digits 11 times in the last 14 games, scoring 20 or more three times in that span.

The Nick Of Time
In the two wins last weekend, Nick Jones really did show up in the Nick of time. On Thursday, the freshman guard from Oxnard, not Ventura, had his best game as a Gaucho and it came just in time. In the win over Long Beach State, Jones tied career-highs with 19 points and seven rebounds. In fact, in the final 8:41 of the game, as UCSB outscored the 49ers 23-3, he scored nine points, making 4-of-5 shots from the floor and his only free throw. Jones followed that up by scoring 13 points (5-of-9 form the floor and 2-for-2 from the free throw line) in the win at Pacific, including four points in the final 3:19 minutes to help cinch the victory. On the year, he is now averaging 9.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game overall, but in league play, he is chipping in 12.6 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 48.9% from the field. Since playing only 113 minutes in the first eight games (14.1 per game), never playing more than 20 in any one, Jones has picked up the pace. In the last 11 games he played 327 minutes, an average of 29.7 per game and he has played at least 25 in al1 11 and 30 or more six times. Over the last 11 games, Jones has scored in double-figures eight times, averaging 12.9 per game. In the last ten games, Jones has made 76-of-161 shots from the field, 47.2%. Incidentally, in addition to his 19 point outing at Long Beach, he also had 19 points in a win over Loyola Marymount on December 30 and in addition to his seven rebound effort at Long Beach, he had seven in games against Long Beach at home and at Cal State Fullerton.

The Hull Truth, Nothing But
Sophomore Mark Hull is expanding his game for the Gauchos. As teams focus their defensive effort on him, he has become a more valuable passer and rebounder. Hull remains the Gauchos' leading scorer overall at 13.5 points per game, but in Big West play, he is fourth on the team at 12.2 per game. In the last few games, however, he has done a lot of other things. In the road win at Long Beach State, Hull scored 12 points, but he also passed off for a career-high five assists and pulled down seven rebounds. He followed that up with an eight point, six rebound, three assist game at Pacific on Saturday. In his last three games, Hull is averaging 4.0 assists per game, the top mark on the team over that span, and in the last four games, he has come up with 22 rebounds, an average of 5.5 per game. Hull has been a consistent offensive force all season, scoring in double-figures 14 times in 19 games, including seven of the last nine. He is second on the team in three-point baskets with 27, and he has made at least one in 15 games, including nine of the last ten. Since a 2-for-12 start from three-point territory, Hull has made 25-of-61, 41.0%, and that includes a two game stretch against St. Mary's and UC Riverside when he was 1-for-13. One recent area of concern regarding Hull was his stamina. He easily leads the Gauchos in minutes played with 637, 153 more than the next closest player (Fullove, who has missed three games, has played 484 minutes). Hull has played 30 or more minutes ten times in the last 12 games and 16 times in 19 games this season. In the last eight games, Hull has scored 84 points (10.5 per game), 64 of which have come in the first half. In the first seven games of the season, Hull scored 112 points (15.9 points per game), 73 of which were scored in the first half of games.

A Little Of This, A Little Of That, And A Whole Lotta Fullove
Freshman guard Branduinn Fullove is proving to be one of UCSB's best all-around players. He is doing a little bit of everything. On Thursday at Long Beach State, he had 14 points, six rebounds and three assists, and on Saturday, he had nine points, three rebounds and a pair of assists. Overall, he is second on the Gauchos with an average of 3.2 assists per game, he is third in scoring at 10.9 points per game and he is second in rebounding at 5.1 per game. In Big West play, Fullove's numbers are even better. In nine league contests, the freshman from Simi Valley is second on the team at 12.8 points per game and a team-leading 3.8 assists per game. He is also tied for second at 5.0 rebounds per contest. He has scored in double-figures nine times this season, including three of the last four games and seven times in the last ten games. In a loss to UC Irvine on January 25, Fullove became the first Gaucho freshman on record to lead the team in scoring (ten points), rebounds (11) and assists (three). He has either led or tied for the team lead in assists eight times in his 16 games this season. He has led the team in scoring three times and he has either led or tied for the team lead in rebounds three times. Fullove is also emerging as an outside shooting threat with 16 three-point baskets. After opening the season by making only 3-of-14 (21.4%), he has made 13-of-29 (44.8%) over the last ten games. In fact, Fullove has made at least one three-pointer in ten straight. He is also UCSB's best free throw shooter. Including his 4-for-4 performance at Pacific, he has now made 63-of-76, 82.9%. Finally, his double-double against UCI on January 25 was the first double-double by a Gaucho freshman since the 1993-94 season.

What's Cooking?
Casey Cook, the most unsung of the Gauchos' top four freshmen, has started to emerge lately. While he is averaging 4.2 points per game and shooting 33.7% from the floor, the numbers have been better in the last four games. In the last four, Cook has averaged 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while making 12-of-21 shots, 57.1%. In fact, the numbers are even better when only considering his two-point shooting ability. In the last four, Cook has made 12-of-17 shots from two-point country, 70.6%. On the season, he has made just 2-of-16 from three-point range, missing his last 11 in a row. On the other hand, Cook has made 29-of-76 shots from two-point range, 38.2%. At 3.9 rebounds per game in an average of only 12.9 minutes, Cook leads the team in rebounds per minutes played. He has pulled down five or more boards six times, seven or more four times and his career-high of nine came against USF.

Pointing The Way
Freshman Jacoby Atako had one of his best games as a Gaucho in Saturday's win at Pacific. While he scored only three points, he had six assists and only one turnover in 27 minutes, directing a UCSB offense that made 54.9% of its shots. Atako currently ranks sixth in the Big West in assist to turnover ratio with a 1.44-to-1.0 ratio. He ranks seventh in the league in assists at 3.26 per game. His only real struggle has been with his shooting. On the year, Atako is making only 27.1% of his field goals and in the last seven games, he has made just 6-of-37 from the floor, 16.2%. UCSB's other point guard, sophomore B.J. Ward, is averaging 3.0 assists per game to go along with his 5.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest. He is shooting 46.2% from the field overall, the best mark among Gaucho backcourt players. In fact, he has made 55.0% of his shots in the last 11 games.

Starting Lineup Rundown
Here is UCSB's record with the various starting lineups this season:
1. Ward, Bryant, Hull, Jordani and Vukovich: 2-5
2. Ward, Bryant, Fullove, Hull and Jordani: 0-1
3. Atako, Fullove, Hull, Jordani and Vukovich: 0-1
4. Atako, Jones, Fullove, Hull and Vukovich: 6-4

Parting Shots

* Last season, in 28 games, the Gauchos had four players score in double-figures a total of six times. After having four players notch double-figures at Long Beach on Thursday, the team has now had four (or more) score in double-digits seven times in 19 games this season.

* The Gauchos have committed more fouls than their opponents only six times in 19 games this season.

* A freshman (Branduinn Fullove or Jacoby Atako) has either led or tied for the team lead in assists in 13 of the last 15 games and in 16 of the 19 contests this season.

* Of the five major statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots and steals) a freshman or sophomore has led or tied for the team lead 59 times in 95 opportunities, 62.1%.

* Eight different players have either led or tied for the team lead in scoring this season.

* Six different players have either led or tied for the team-lead in rebounding this season. While UCSB is outrebounding its opponents by 0.8 per game overall, they are outrebounding nine league opponents by an average of 3.1 per game, second in the Big West.