Tonight's Game: UC Santa Barbara vs. Idaho

Feb. 8, 2003

Tonight the UCSB men's basketball team takes on the Vandals from Idaho after earning an exciting victory over Utah State. UCSB is tied for first place in the Big West with a 10-10 overall record and a 7-3 league mark. Idaho is 5-5 in conference play and is tied for fifth place. The game will be played at UCSB's Thunderdome and will be broadcast on KEYT 1250.

UCSB Probable Starting Lineup:
The Gauchos will likely take the court with the same starters that beat Utah State to push UCSB into a first place tie. This means Jacoby Atako will control the backcourt. Against the Aggies Atako scored his usual four points and pulled down four rebounds as well. Along side Atako will be Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones. Fullove had a spectacular game Thursday night when he scored a game high 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He went 3-4 from behind the three-point line and passed the 1,000-point mark on his career. Jones scored six points against Utah State and dished out two assists. He was also one of two Gauchos to snatch two steals on the night. Down low for UCSB will be Mark Hull and Casey Cook. Hull dropped in 13 points against the Aggies, going 3-for-6 from the three-point line. He needs just one point to move into second place all-time on the UCSB scoring list. Cook struggled again Thursday night so it is possible Bryan Whitehead will replace him in the starting rotation. Cook did manage to pull down five rebounds and dish out an assist, but his game was overshadowed by the performance Whitehead had. Whitehead grabbed a game high 11 rebounds, including five on the offensive end, and he chipped in six points as well.

Idaho Probable Starting Lineup:
Idaho will go with 6'0" senior Justin Logan and 6'1" junior Dwayne Williams in the backcourt. Logan is averaging 5.7 points per game and 2.6 rebounds. Thursday night against Cal Poly, Logan scored five points and dished out an impressive 10 assists. Williams is scoring 8.7 points per game and is pulling down 2.7 rebounds. He connected on 3-of-5 three-pointers against Cal Poly and finished with 11 points. Williams also recorded a team high three steals. At the forward positions for the Vandals will be Tyrone Hayes, Jon Tinnon, and Rashaad Powell. Hayes is the team leader in scoring, averaging 14 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounding at 6.4 boards per game despite being just 6'4" tall. Tinnon is averaging 8.4 points per game and 4.6 rebounds. Against Cal Poly he went for 11 points and pulled down a second best six boards. The last forward for Idaho will be Rashaad Powell. Powell is averaging just 4.6 points per game and is pulling down 4.3 rebounds.

Scouting the Vandals:
Tyrone Hayes is clearly the number one option for the Vandals. His 14 points a game and 6.7 rebounds lead the team. His scoring average places him tenth in the Big West. Most of Hayes's points will come from relatively close to the basket where he boasts a .476 shooting percentage. However, much like the other dominant forwards in the Big West, Hayes can shoot the three. He is 13 for 31 from beyond the arc so whoever is guarding him will have to keep an eye on him when he steps outside. Hayes has scored in double digits in 13 of the Vandals' 19 games and he has recorded three double doubles this season. As for the rest of the team, Dwayne Williams will consistently shoot the ball from downtown where he has netted 33 of 104 treys. The Gaucho guards will have to monitor him wherever he is on the floor. Despite the scoring capabilities of Hayes and Williams, if Santa Barbara plays defense against Idaho like they did against Utah State and the previous four teams they played, with the exception of Long Beach, the Gauchos will be able to come away with a win. The Vandals have lost 10-of-14 games in which they shoot less then 50% from the floor. UCSB has made it a habit to limit shooting percentages since Big West play started. Fortunately, the Vandals are only shooting .429% as a team this season, eighth in the Big West, so Santa Barbara should have little trouble keeping them below 50%. Additionally, Idaho has lost 6-of-8 games in which they were losing at half time. The Gauchos are very good at building first half leads, this should happen again tonight. The one thing that Idaho does very well is guard the three-point shot. They rank first in the conference with a 31% three-point field goal percentage defense. Hopefully UCSB will be able to find a way to get some open shots from behind the arc, as this seems to be Santa Barbara's favorite way to score. Idaho also rebounds well ranking third in the Big West in rebounds per game. The Gauchos will again have to work hard to keep the Vandal big men off the glass. If Whitehead has another rebounding performance like he had against Utah State, this shouldn't be problem at all.

Scouting the Gauchos:
The key to winning five of the last six games for Santa Barbara has been the ability of the Gauchos to play exceptional defense. On Thursday night UCSB held Desmond Penigar, the Utah State standout, to two points on 1-of-9 shooting. Santa Barbara has been playing all-out, in your face, pressure defense, accompanied by a swarming press. Coach Williams switches up the defensive looks often during the game, going from man to zone and back, to keep the other teams guessing. The strategy has been paying off. The Gauchos are holding opponents to low shooting percentages, 37.4% during the last few games, and are getting their hands on the ball when it's floating through the passing lane. Santa Barbara picked up seven steals against Utah State to go along with the 8.4 they had been averaging during the previous four games. On the offensive end of the floor the Gauchos have been working the ball around and getting open shots. Fullove has been the recipient of many of the assists recently and he keeps knocking down the shots. In the past three games he has scored more then 20 points and he has been hot from behind the arc. He has increased his scoring average to above 16 points and has averaged more then 18 in the last six games.

Key Match-up:
The key match-up for tonight's game will be the Gaucho rotation against Tyrone Hayes. Hayes is listed at 6'4" but he plays a lot bigger then that. Likely one of the Gaucho guards will start on him, either Jones or Fullove, but it is possible that Hull will end up taking him. Josh Davis and Cecil Brown may see time on him as well coming off the bench. Santa Barbara knows that Hayes will get some points, they are expecting that, but if they can limit him offensively, the game will be much easier for the Gauchos. If the defensive effort on Hayes is as strong as it was against Penigar of Utah State, UCSB will come away with a victory and will hold onto their piece of first place.

What to look for:
Look for another outstanding defensive performance by the Gauchos. Coach Williams has this team-playing defense with an unmatched intensity and there is no reason why they won't demonstrate this newfound ability again Saturday night. Fullove has been on fire lately so look for him to take a lot of shots. Also, be prepared to see Mark Hull move into second place all-time on the UCSB career points list. He needs just one point to achieve the feat and there is little doubt he will get it at home against Idaho.