February 15, 2003

Tonight's Game: UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Northridge

Feb. 15, 2003

Tonight the Gauchos take on a struggling Northridge team. The Matadors have lost three of their last four games including an ugly home loss to Cal Poly. Northridge is 10-11 overall and 4-7 in Big West play. Santa Barbara is coming off a victory at Pacific that moved them into first place all by themselves. UCSB benefited from an upset of Utah State by UC Irvine. The Gauchos are now 12-10 overall and 9-3 in conference play. The game will be played in the Matadome and will be broadcast on KEYT 1250.

UCSB Probable Starting Lineup:
Starting at point guard for the Gauchos will be Jacoby Atako. Atako struggled from the floor Thursday night against Pacific, going 0-4 and only scoring two points. However his defense has been stellar and will be needed to shut down the Matador guards. At the wings will be Nick Jones and Branduinn Fullove. Jones was one of two starters to actually come alive against Pacific going 5-11 from the floor and scoring 15 points. After being in a bit of a slump during the past couple games, Jones finally found his rhythm and it was a good thing as Fullove and Hull were both ineffective. Fullove's inability to contribute was due to the fact that he suffered a concussion during the opening minutes of against Pacific, forcing him to sit out the rest of the game. It has not yet been determined whether or not he will be in the starting line-up against the Matadors but one thing is certain, Fullove is no stranger to injury. Over the course of the season, and his career for that matter, Fullove has excelled while hurt so plan on seeing him out there as the Gauchos fight to stay atop the Big West. Down low will be Mark Hull and Casey Cook. Hull was unproductive against the Tigers because he could not get a shot to fall for the life of him. He finished his worst game of the season with five points on 1-of-9 shooting. This marks the second game in a row in which Hull has been unable to find the basket. Cook was the other starter against Pacific that actually contributed on the offensive end of the floor. Cook went 3-for-3 from the floor and hit two of three free throws to score eight points on the night.

Cal State Northridge Probable Starting Lineup:
Starting in the backcourt for the Matadors will be Joseph Frazier and Curtis Slaughter. Frazier, a 6'2" sophomore guard, is averaging 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game for Northridge. Against Cal Poly he was one of four Matadors to score in double digits with 10 points. Frazier also had eight steals to push him to a team high 45 on the season. Slaughter is the second leading scorer for Northridge averaging 13 points per contest. He also ranks second with 4.9 rebounds per game and leads the team with 80 assists. The forwards for the Matadors will be Ian Boylan and Chris Davis. Boylan leads the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game. The sophomore is second in the Big West with seven twenty-point games. On the season, Boylan has connected on 41-of-95 three-point attempts for a three-point shooting percentage of 43%. He is steady from the free throw line knocking down 83% of his free throws and also grabs 4.9 rebounds per game. Davis is averaging 7.2 points per game this year and has connected on 56% of his field goals. He is grabbing 3.6 rebounds per game and snatched six against Cal Poly. Davis led the team in scoring against the Mustangs going 3-for-6 from the floor and totaling 12 points. At the center spot for the Matadors will be 6'9" senior Armand Thomas. Thomas is scoring 5.3 points per game and is grabbing 4.1 rebounds. Similar to Davis, Thomas spends most of his time under the basket where he has hit 37-of-79 shots. Davis and Thomas have yet to shoot a three-pointer all season.

Scouting the Matadors:
The obvious key to shutting down the Matadors is to make somebody other then Ian Boylan beat you. Boylan accounts for most of the Northridge offense whether it is field goals, three-point shots or free throws. He leads the team in all three categories. The only other player that must be held in check is Curtis Slaughter. Slaughter is second in almost all categories to Boylan with the exception of assists. In terms of trends, the Matadors are 9-1 when they out-shoot an opponent from three-point range. Conversely, when they are out-shot by opponents, they are 1-9. This should be beneficial for the Gauchos as they are the best three-point shooting team in the conference. A story can be told from the free throw line as well. When Northridge hits as many or more free throws than their opponent, they are 7-0. This tends to happen quite frequently as the Matadors are second in the Big West in free throws made per game. However, when they connect on fewer free throws, they are 3-10. Clearly the Gauchos must defend against the three-point shot and try and keep the Matadors off the free throw line. Down low Northridge is strong as well. They rank first in the conference in rebounding average at 36.4 per game and they lead the conference in offensive boards. Hull, Cook, and Bryan Whitehead will have to work to keep the Northridge big men off the glass.

Scouting the Gauchos:
With Fullove uncertain for tonight's game, the Gauchos will definitely be looking to Mark Hull and Nick Jones to handle a majority of the scoring. Hull, the second leading scorer in Santa Barbara history, has been slumping lately but if Santa Barbara is going to continue its roll, he is going to have to come on. Other Gauchos that must be paid attention on the offensive end of the floor are Cecil Brown and Josh Davis. Brown is coming off his best game at UCSB, a 16-point performance against Pacific. In just 21 minutes of action, he went 5-of-9 from the field and 2-of-3 from the three-point line to score a team-high 16 points. Davis is also a threat with the ball, against Pacific he had seven points and pulled down five rebounds. Everybody knows by now that Santa Barbara will try and beat you from outside, without playing much of an inside-out game. Fullove, Hull, Jones, and Brown will fire away from behind the three-point line until somebody stops them. At that point, they will get their shots inside the arc where all of their shooting percentages have been improving. Despite drastically cooling off from downtown, Fullove has managed to increase his scoring average, and other players have been consistent in knocking down the 19-foot jumpers as well. Capitalizing on their defensive intensity and ability to cause turnovers, the Gauchos will also run a lot. Atako leads a fast break masterfully, always finding the right guy whether it by Jones slashing to the hoop or Hull following for a three-point dagger. If Northridge doesn't protect the ball on offense, many Santa Barbara hands will be there to cause disruption that will lead to fast break points.

Key Match-up:
The key match-up in tonight's game will be Mark Hull against Ian Boylan. Because defense has been the key to so many Santa Barbara victories, Hull, and the rest of the Gauchos, will be focused on restraining 6'6" Boylan. UCSB knows that if it contains the Matadors' top scorer it will be in good shape regardless of who steps up on the offensive end. There is no better player to guard Boylan than Hull. Also, Hull is due for a comeback game after managing less then double digits in his last two games. Hopefully his offensive presence will be enough to rattle Boylan and from there, the Gauchos will set themselves up for another victory.

What to look for:
Look for the Gauchos to start off a bit sluggish. Saturday night games have turned out to be more difficult for the Gauchos as they come out a bit tired and worn down from the Thursday night battle. The fact that Santa Barbara traveled to Pacific then down to Northridge is tough as well. Nonetheless, by the second half, Santa Barbara should be well into their defensive mentality and should begin to pull away from the Matadors. Look for Hull to make up for his lack of offense with a break out game, especially if Fullove is less then 100%. Also look for the super subs, Cecil Brown and Josh Davis, to provide excitement during their 15-20 minutes of playing time. Every time those two hit the floor they noticeably get better, and with Fullove possibly out, each may see a significant amount of time. By the final buzzer, look for the Gauchos to come away with another victory, improving their league record to 10-3 and moving three games above .500.

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