Men's Basketball Hosts Cal Poly In Central Coast Showdown For Third-Place In The Big West

Men's Basketball Hosts Cal Poly In Central Coast Showdown For Third-Place In The Big West

The Schedule
Game No. 23
Saturday, February 16, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.

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

Game No. 24
Thursday, February 21, 2002 at 7:30 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Long Beach State 49ers
at LBSU's Pyramid

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters Saturday's game against Cal Poly with an overall record of 14-8 and a Big West record of 8-5. The Gauchos and Mustangs enter the week with identical league records of 8-5 and a share third place. UCSB will also bring back-to-back wins into the week, their first winning streak since they recorded four successive wins in late December. The 14-8 record is the best 22-game mark the Gauchos have posted since they were 16-6 during the 1991-92 campaign.

Gauchos Get Defensive, Post Second Straight Win
Markus Carr's three-point basket at the halftime buzzer on Saturday gave Cal State Northridge a narrow 31-30 lead over UC Santa Barbara. In the second half, however, the Gauchos used an extended zone defense to limit Carr to five points and the Matadors to just 20. During one stretch in the second half, UCSB held Northridge to no field goals and just four points over a ten minute span. A hanging jumper in the key by Jacoby Atako broke a 44-44 tie with 9:30 to go in the game and the Gauchos never trailed again. For the second game in row, UCSB was paced by Mark Hull. This time, Hull officially attempted only seven shots, but he was 5-for-7 from the floor and 8-for-9 from the free throw line, finishing with 18 points. Nick Jones made just 1-of-6 from the floor, but he hit 8-of-11 from the free throw line and finished with ten points. Jones also pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds. As a team, UCSB outshot Northridge 42.5% to 35.4% and they won the rebounding tussle, 38-24.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his fourth season as head coach at UCSB. The Gauchos enter this week's game with a 14-8 overall record. Last year Williams 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 56-50 record. The 56 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. In three years-plus under Williams' guidance, UCSB has logged a 39-22 record in Big West games, a winning percentage of .639, 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 56-42. 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 244-150 (.619) record.

Casey Cook Remains Sidelined 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 this week's game, Cook will have missed 17 successive contests.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has played 30 minutes or more in seven straight games.
G - Nick Jones - Has averaged 16.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in last four home games.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Has had exactly four rebounds in each of the last five games.
F - Mark Hull - Averaged 18.5 points and shot 58.8% in the last two games.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Has scored in single-digits in each of the last three games.

Probable Reserves - Notes
F - Mike Vukovich - Has played just nine minutes in the last two games combined.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Has been scoreless in four of the last five games.
G - B.J. Ward - Had a season-high four rebounds in the win over Pacific.
F - Casey Cook - Thumb injury on shooting hand will sideline him indefinitely.
F - Bray Skultety - Has made 14 of his last 16 shots over an 11 game span, 87.5%.
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 - Played a season-high three minutes in win over Long Beach State.

Getting Defensive: UCSB Ranks 1st In FG% Defense
UCSB held Cal State Northridge to 35.4% shooting from the floor overall. In the last three games, two wins and a loss, Gaucho opponents have combined to make just 48-of-149 shots, 32.2%. On February 7, UCSB limited Idaho to 22.2% shooting from the field, the lowest mark by an opponent this season. Overall UCSB is holding opponents to 36.7% field goal percentage, a mark that now leads the nation. The University of Cincinnati, which led the nation for several weeks, allowed Wake Forest to shoot 44.4% in a game on Saturday and they are now up to 37.2% as a team. UCSB has held two of its last five opponents to below the 30.0% plateau. In addition to Idaho, the Gauchos held Long Beach State to 27.1% shooting on January 26. UCSB has limited 14 of 22 opponents to less than 40.0% shooting and six opponents (Idaho, Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge, Pepperdine, USF and Westmont) have shot below the 30.0% mark. UCSB has allowed opponents to shoot better than 50.0% just one time this season. UC Irvine made a season-high 53.7% and scored a season-high 82 points in a January 24 game against the Gauchos. UCSB has allowed opponents to make 50.0% or better in just five halves this season. In 44 halves this season, UCSB has limited the opposition to below 20.0% two times, below 30.0% 13 times, below 40.0% 27 times, below 45.0% 33 times and below 50.0% 39 times.

Points Reflect Percentage
You don't need a rocket scientist to figure out that if you hold a team to a low shooting percentage then you will probably hold them to a low scoring average as well. UCSB's opponents are scoring an average of 59.0 points per game, a figure that, as of last week, ranked eighth in the nation. On Saturday Cal State Northridge could manage just 51 points, marking the 13th time this season that an opponent has scored fewer than 60 points in a game. In the last five games, UCSB's opponents are averaging just 54.0 points per game, and that includes a 72-point game by Utah State. Only five of 22 opponents have scored more than 70 points this season and only one, UC Irvine, eclipsed the 80 point barrier. Three teams, San Francisco, Westmont and Idaho, scored fewer than 50 points. Finally, the 40 points scored by Idaho were the fewest scored by a UCSB opponent since Pacific scored 38 points during the 1998-99 season. The 12 points that the Vandals scored in the first half of the game on February 2 equaled the fewest points ever scored by a Gaucho opponent in a half.

On The Rebound
UCSB consistently continues to outbrebound its opponents. On Saturday, the Gauchos won the battle of the boards by a 38-24 over Cal State Northridge. Santa Barbara is outrebounding its opponents this season by an average of 5.0 per game. The Gauchos have outrebounded 16 opponents this season and they have been outrebounded just four times. On two occasions this season, once each against Long Beach State and Idaho, UCSB outrebounded its opponent by a season-high 20 boards. With Nick Jones pulling down a career-high 12 rebounds against Cal State Northridge on Saturday, the Gauchos now have five players averaging at least four rebounds per game. Adama Ndiaye (7.9 rpg), Mark Hull (5.5 rpg), Bray Skultety (4.4 rpg), Branduinn Fullove (4.3 rpg) and Jones (4.1 rpg) are each over the 4.0 mark.

The Fab Forty
UCSB enters the week with all of its regular players shooting over the 40.0% mark from the field. In fact, all of the regulars are, for the first time this season, either at or over the 41.0% mark. While this may not seem like a huge accomplishment, it is clearly a positive. Bray Skultety leads the team at 75.0% from the field. Adama Ndiaye (52.9%) and Mike Vukovich (50.8%) are also over the 50.0% barrier.

Balancing The Books
In last Saturday's loss to Idaho, the Gauchos produced a different type of offensive balance and it was the type that every coach dreads. For the first time this season, UCSB failed to have any player score in double-figures. All six players who scored had fewer than ten points. Nick Jones and Mark Hull led the way with eight points apiece. Thursday, the Gauchos bounced back offensively with four players in double-digits. Mark Hull had 19, Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones had 12 apiece and B.J. Ward tallied ten. Two weeks ago, in a 32-point win over Long Beach State, UCSB had all five players score in double-figures for the first time this season.

The Gauchos At Home
UCSB enters Saturday's game with a record of 8-2 at home. Since a 5-0 start at home, the Gauchos have gone 3-2. On January 5, the Gauchos dropped a 60-56 decision to Utah State, snapping a seven game Thunderdome winning streak. UCSB has now won three consecutive home games, defeating Long Beach State, Pacific and Cal State Northridge.

The Gauchos & Mustangs
UCSB and Cal Poly have played 75 times in a series that dates back more than 60 years. The Gauchos hold a 50-25 advantage. Since Bob Williams became head coach at UCSB in 1998, the Gauchos have won all seven games played between the schools. On January 19, UCSB, playing without Branduinn Fullove and Mike Vukovich because of injuries, defeated the Mustangs 74-67 in San Luis Obispo. Adama Ndiaye had a career-high 31 points to lead the way.

Win Big, Lose Small
Of UCSB's eight losses this season, just two have come by double-digit margins. The Gauchos dropped 11-point games to USC and UC Irvine, every other loss has been under ten points. Several of the 13 wins, on the other hand, have come by hefty margins. The Gauchos have recorded nine wins of ten or more points, five of 15 or more points, four of 20 or more points and one of 30 or more points. UCSB produced a season-best 32-point victory over Long Beach State two weeks ago. The 32 points are more than the combined total margin of the Gauchos' last six losses. The last six losses have come by a total of 31 points. Last season, UCSB had just three wins by ten or more points.

Three-Point Stance
The Gauchos attempted only seven three-point shots in Saturday's win over Cal State Northridge, making just one. It was the second fewest attempts that UCSB has taken this season, they took five three-pointers on December 1 against St. Mary's, and it was their fewest makes. On Thursday, in a win over Pacific, they attempted just 12 three-pointers, making six. In the last two games, they have taken a total of 19 three-pointers, a figure that is lower than five single game totals this season. On the season, UCSB has attempted 12 or fewer three-pointers in five games and they have gone a perfect 5-0 in those games. The Gauchos are 1-4 when they attempt 20 or more three-pointers and they are 9-3 when their opponent attempts 20 or more. UCSB has held its last three opponents to just 14-of-64 from three-point territory, 21.8%. On the season, Gaucho opponents have made four more three-pointers than UCSB, but it has taken them 116 more attempts. While the Gauchos shoot a decent 38.0% from three-point range, their opponents shoot just 29.3%.

Raising A Hullabaloo
Junior Mark Hull remains UCSB's leading scorer with a scoring average of 15.6 points per game. Last Thursday he became the second Gaucho in history to hit the 1,000 point mark during his junior season. With 18 points in Saturday's game against Cal State Northridge, Hull now has a career total of 1,022 points, 19 more than B.J. Bunton, who now ranks 18th on the all-time list. Hull's next two targets are Paul Johnson and Doug Muse who scored 1,032 and 1,050 respectively. Of the other 17 who have scored 1,000 or more, only Carrick DeHart (1986-90) was able to reach 1,000 as a junior. Also, if the last two games are any indication, Hull seems to have shaken his shooting slump. In the last two games, the Glendale native has made 10-of-17 shots from the floor, 58.8%. In the four previous games, Hull was just 15-of-51, 29.4%. Against Cal State Northridge, Hull tied his season-lows with just seven field goal attempts and one three-point attempt. For only the second time this season, and in fact the second time in the last three games, he did not make a three-point basket. He did, however, go 8-for-9 at the free throw line. The nine free throw attempts were his second highest total of the year. In his two game resurgence, Hull has gone 14-of-16 from the free throw line, 87.5%. In an indication that he is becoming more aggressive on the offensive end, the 16 free throws he has attempted in the last two are the most he has had in back-to-back games this season. Despite not hitting a three-pointer on Saturday, Hull has made at least two three-pointers in seven of the last nine games and 11 of the last 14. Of his 109 baskets on the season, 51.4%, or 56, are three-pointers. Hull has also attempted more three-pointers (139) than two-pointers (126) this season. His 56 three-point baskets this season rank sixth on UCSB's single-season list and his 125 career three-point buckets rank him fifth all-time. With consecutive solid games at home, Hull seems to have fallen back in love with home cooking. Even with his last two performances, Hull has had two distinct seasons this year, the one he has had at home and the one he has had away from home. In ten home games this season, including his 18 point performance on Saturday, Hull has made 42-of-109 shots from the field overall, 38.5%, and he has hit 16-of-41 from three-point range, 39.0%. In those ten games, he has scored 132 points, an average of 13.2 per game. In road games, on the other hand, Hull has made 67-of-156 shots from the field overall, 43.0%, 40-of-98 from three-point range, 40.8%, and he has scored a total of 211 points in 12 games, an average of 17.6 points per game. Seven of Hull's ten highest scoring efforts have come away from home. 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 18 of 22 games and seven of the last eight. 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 Gauchos 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. Finally, on the rebounding front, Hull followed-up his career-best 14 board performance against Pacific, with a season-low one against Cal State Northridge. Still, he is now averaging 5.5 rebounds per game overall and 7.3 in the last six games.

Ndiaye Hopes To Become Offensive Again
After scoring in double-figures in five straight games, the longest stretch of his career, Adama Ndiaye has failed to do so in each of the last three. On Saturday he tallied six points in 32 minutes before fouling out. While he is averaging 11.1 points per game on the season, he has averaged just 6.0 per game in the last three. In Big West games, Ndiaye is second on the team at 12.2 points per game. Ndiaye has posted four double-doubles this season. On January 19, in a win at Cal Poly, he had the best game of his career pouring in a personal-best 31 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Ndiaye leads the Gauchos in rebounding at 7.9 per game and has had ten or more seven times. He also paces the team in field goal percentage at 53.3% and in his last seven games, he has made 41-of-69 shots, 59.4%. In 13 Big West games, Ndiaye is shooting 58.4% from the field. Ndiaye is shooting 75.0% from the free throw line and at one point recently, he had made 21 in a row. Entering the game against Cal Poly, he has made 44 of his last 51 charity attempts, an outstanding 86.3%. Finally, he has blocked at least one shot in 20 of 22 games. Ndiaye has blocked a career-high five shots twice, both times during his junior season. In his career, he has now swatted 107 shots. He is one of just three Gauchos with more than 100 in his career.

Fullovin' It
Like Hull, sophomore Branduinn Fullove hopes he has snapped out of his offensive slump. While he made just 4-of-13 shots against Cal State Northridge, he did score 11 points. Fullove has now scored in double-figures in back-to-back games for the first time since he did so in early January. On Thursday against Pacific, Fullove scored 12 points, making 5-of-10 shots from the field, including 1-of-4 from three-point range. He remains second on the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game. Fullove slumped after returning from a one-game absence due to a thigh injury. In the four games prior to Thursday's game against Pacific, all since his return, Fullove was averaging just 8.7 points and shooting just 37.0% from the field. During that same span, he made 6-of-17 from three-point range, 35.3%. Uncharacteristically, In the last seven games, Fullove has committed 23 turnovers, an average of 3.3 per game, as opposed to his average of 1.6 per game in the first 14 games of the season. On a positive note, Fullove has moved into second on the team in assists at 3.12 per game and he has had four or more in five of the last seven games. In the last seven, he has averaged 4.1 assists per game. Fullove has had a season-high six assists twice, against Long Beach State and against Idaho, and each time UCSB has won. In fact, he has had five assists or more five times this season and the Gauchos are 4-1 in those games. Also, he has improved his free throw percentage to 87.2%. Twice this season he has had streaks of 26 consecutive successful free throw attempts. Fullove has scored in double-figures 15 times in 20 outings. He has scored 20 or more points in four games this season 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 early January. His total of 38 threes are nine more than he made all of last year. Fullove has now made 66-of-170 three-pointers as a Gaucho, 38.8%, a mark that would place him eighth 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.

Keeping Up With The Jones
After coming off the bench in the first 15 games of the season, sophomore guard Nick Jones has been in the starting lineup in each of the last even. On the year, he is averaging 8.9 points per game, but as a starter, he is chipping in 12.3 per game. In three of the last seven games, Jones has either led the team or tied for the team-lead in scoring. On Saturday he made just 1-of-6 shots, but he attempted 11 free throws and finished with ten points. In addition, he logged his first double-double of the season by pulling down a career-high 12 rebounds. In Thursday's win over Pacific, he scored 12 points. Jones has now scored in double-figures in four of the last six games, all at home. In fact, in the last four home games, Jones has scored 64 points, an average of 16.0 per game, and he has averaged 7.0 rebounds over that same period. He is averaging 9.8 points per game in league. He scored a career-high 23 points on January 24 against UC Irvine. Jones has now played 24 or more minutes in all seven of his starts and he has played 30 or more in four of those games. His 78 points in the last six games are 34 more points than he had scored in the previous seven games combined. Finally, with a pair of steals against Cal State Northridge, he now has 21 on the year, including eight in the last five.

The Atako Factor
Sophomore Jacoby Atako struggled with his shot and his offense for most of the first 14 games of the season, but in his last eight games, he has become both a better shooter and a pretty solid offensive threat. In the last eight games, Atako has scored in double-figures three times and averaged 8.5 points per game. Most impressively, however, over the same span, Atako has hit 23-of-43 shots overall, an impressive 53.5%. His improvement from three-point range has been just as impressive. In the last eight, Atako has nailed 12-of-24, 50.0%. On January 31 at Utah State, he had his best-ever showing from beyond the three-point arc, making 3-of-4. The three three-point baskets equaled Atako's career-high, set previously in a January 12 game at the University of the Pacific. The 12 three-point baskets he has made in the last eight games are just four fewer than he had hit in his previous 42 games. Atako is averaging 28.5 minutes per game, a sizable increase over his average of 23.3 minutes per game last year. In addition, he is becoming somewhat of an ironman and has played 30 or more in seven straight. Atako is averaging 5.5 points and a team-leading 4.0 assists per game. Atako has passed off for five or more assists in four of the last seven games and he his seven assists on Thursday against Pacific were his highest total since he had seven on January 3 against Idaho.

Quick Shots
B.J. Ward, who scored ten points against Pacific on Thursday, has been scoreless in four of the last six games...Bray Skultety, a walk-on forward from San Diego, is third on the team in rebounding (4.4 per game) and he paces the team in rebounds per 40 minutes played at 16.5...UCSB's last three opponents have scored just 28, 24 and 20 points in the second half, an average of 24.0 per second half...UCSB has committed 20 turnovers twice in the last 15 games and each time they have done so against Cal State Northridge.

On The Horizon
Following the Cal Poly game, UCSB will travel to Long Beach State for a 7:35 game on February 21 and then to UC Irvine on February 23 for a 7:00 p.m. game.