Men's Basketball Wins Regular Season Finale, Faces Nevada Thursday In First Round Of Big West Tournament

March 6, 2000

The Schedule
Game No. 28
Big West Tournament - First Round
Thursday, March 9, 2000, 8:30 p.m. (Time is approximate)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. University of Nevada Wolf Pack
at Nevada's Lawlor Events Center

Game No. 29 (If UCSB wins first round game)
Big West Tournament - Second Round
Friday, March 10, 2000, 8:30 p.m. (Time is approximate)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Utah State-Pacific winner
at Nevada's Lawlor Events Center

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enter the Big West Tournament with an overall record of 14-13 and a Big West mark of 10-6. The Gauchos enter the league tournament as the second seeded team from the Big West. They will take on the University of Nevada, the third place team from the Eastern Division, in the first round of the tournament.

Another Year, Another Comeback
In 1998-99, UCSB opened the season with an 0-8 record and finished with an overall record of 15-13, winning 15 of their final 20 games. In league, they went 12-4 and won the Western Division of the Big West. This year, the Gauchos opened with an 0-4 overall record. When they dropped a narrow 61-57 decision to Utah State on January 20, their record fell to 4-10 overall and 0-3 in the Big West. Like last year, however, fortunes changed. The Gauchos closed the year by going 10-3 to finish at 14-13 overall and 10-6 in league, good enough for a second place finish.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his second season as head coach of the Gauchos. Last year he guided the Gauchos to a 15-13 overall record and an outstanding 12-4 mark in Big West play. After guiding the squad to the league's Western Division Championship, Williams was selected Big West Coach of the Year and National Association of Basketball Coaches District 15 Coach of the Year. After 27 games this season, Williams' Gaucho record is now 29-26 and his overall record as a college coach is 218-126. His teams have won either a league, division or National Championship in five straight seasons.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Derrick Allen - Ranks fifth all-time in steals and tenth in assists.
G - Erick Ashe - Did not hit a three-pointer vs. UOP, snapping 25 game streak.
G - Larry Bell - UCSB is 20-6 over last two years with him in starting lineup.
F - Mark Hull - 286 points ranks third on all-time UCSB freshman list.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Had sixth double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) vs. UOP.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Brandon Payton - Has averaged 13.2 ppg during 10-3 Gaucho run.
G - B.J. Ward - Has gone 11-of-17 (64.7%) over the last nine games.
G - Matt Long - Walk-on guard has played in two games.
G - LaRon Bryant - Since opening 4-for-21 from 3-pt. range, he is 26-of-51, 51.0%.
F - Juliano Jordani - Shooting 58.6% from FT line, but he has made his last eight.
F - Mike Vukovich - Has shot 66.7% from the field in his last 12 games.
F - Ross Carmichael - Played in only two of the final six games of the season.

Gauchos vs. Nevada
UCSB and Nevada have played 12 times with the Gauchos holding a 7-5 advantage. UCSB defeated Nevada by a score of 89-65 on January 22 in Santa Barbara. The Gauchos were led by Erick Ashe who scored a career-high 27 points and Mark Hull who tied his career-high with 19. UCSB has won two in a row from the Wolf Pack, also defeating them in Reno last year, 66-64. UCSB's victory in Reno last season was their first ever.

Defending Their Honor
UCSB leads the Big West Conference in field goal percentage defense at 38.8%, a figure that ranks 15th in the nation. On February 26, the Gauchos held Boise State to 29.2% shooting from the field, their fourth sub-30.0% effort of the season. Previously, UCSB had held Stanford to 26.3% (15-of-57), BYU to 29.6% (16-of-54) and St. Mary's to 29.1% (16-of-55). In the regular season finale, the Gauchos held Pacific to 37.5% from the field and on Thursday, they held Long Beach State to its second-lowest percentage of the year (40.6%). In the last four games, three of which have been wins, UCSB opponents have made 82-of-228 from the field, 35.9%. Only one Santa Barbara opponent has shot better than 50.0% on the season, USC at 51.4%. Not only has UCSB limited four opponents to below 30.0% from the field, they have limited 22 to below 45.0% and 15 to below 40.0% from the field. In addition, Gaucho opposition has made only 160-of-533 three-point attempts, a meager 30.0%. Opponents have made better than 30.0% of their three-pointers in 13 games.

On The Rebound
Since being outrebounded in each of their first three games, UCSB has turned the rebounding game around. In fact, with an average rebound margin of +4.5 rebounds per game, the Gauchos lead the Big West Conference in rebounding. UCSB has not been outrebounded in ten straight games, winning eight battles and tying two. Since those first three games, the Gauchos have either tied or outrebounded 21 of 24 opponents, including the last ten in a row. On eight occasions, UCSB's rebound margin has been ten or more, including two of the last three games when they outrebounded Cal Poly by 17 and Boise State by ten.

UCSB Goes Back-To-Back With Winning League Record
When UCSB defeated Boise State on February 26 it was a nice road win, but in the big picture, it had more significance than that. With the win over the Broncos, the Gauchos not only locked-up second place in the Big West's Western Division, but they also guaranteed themselves of finishing league play with a winning record. This year's 10-6 record in Big West coupled with last season's 12-4 record marks the first time that UCSB has had a winning record in back-to-back Big West Conference seasons since the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons. When they were over .500 last season, it marked their first winning record in league play since the 1992-93 campaign. With a 14-13 overall record, UCSB is guaranteed of finishing at or above the .500 mark overall for the second year in a row (they were 15-13 last season), the first time they have achieved that feat since those same 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons. When the Gauchos finished 15-13 last year, it snapped a streak of five straight losing seasons.

Three-Point Story: Like A Broken Record
UCSB made 5-of-16 shots from three-point range on Saturday against Pacific, and while that certainly was not their best performance of the year, it was enough to give 165 on the season, a new school record. The previous record of 164 three-pointers was set in 1994-95. The Gauchos have also set a school record for three-point attempts with 492, breaking the previous mark of 460, also set in 1994-95. This year's three-point success is a far cry from last season's three-point performance. In 1998-99, UCSB made only 124 three-point baskets in 28 games, an average of 4.4 per game. The 1999-2000 Gauchos are averaging 6.1 per game. The three-point turnaround has not been just a season-to-season thing either. UCSB opened this season by making 3-of-33 (9.1%) from three-point territory in the first two games. In the last 25 games they made 162-of-459, a decent, if not spectacular, 35.3%. One final comparison between last year and this year. In 1998-99, UCSB never made more than seven three-pointers in any one game and they did that just once. This year, UCSB has hit seven or more three-point baskets 11 times and ten or more three times. The 12 they made at Long Beach State were the most they have made in one game in four seasons.

UCSB In The Tournament
The Gauchos have an all-time record of 6-16 in Big West Tournament games. When they defeated Utah State 75-74 in the first round last season, it was their first victory since the opening round in 1992-93, snapping a four game losing streak. This year's first rounder against Nevada will mark the first time the two schools have met in the conference tournament.

UCSB vs. The East
Since Bob Williams arrived at UCSB last year, the Gauchos have posted a record of 7-7 against Big West Eastern Division teams, including a pair of tournament games last season. UCSB has gone 0-3 against New Mexico State, 0-2 against North Texas, 1-1 against Utah State, 1-1 against Boise State, 2-0 against Nevada and 2-0 against Idaho.

UCSB vs. The West
The Gauchos have had a pretty good time of it against the Western Division of the Big West. Last season, UCSB was a sterling 9-1 against the West, losing only at Long Beach State on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. This year, the Gauchos have gone 7-3 against the West, losing twice to Long Beach State and at UC Irvine. In two seasons under Bob Williams, Santa Barbara is 16-4 against the Western Division, including 4-0 against Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly and Pacific, 3-1 against UC Irvine and 1-3 against Long Beach State.

Gauchos Close Fast
After a 4-10 start, it does not take Albert Einstein to figure out that UCSB closed the season with a 10-3 run. What is a bit more revealing, however, are the statistics during the last 13 games. They probably reflect the team's status better than the overall season stats. Here is a comparison of the team's numbers overall and in the last 13 games:

Category            Overall        Last 13
Scoring average     66.3           70.8
Opp. scoring        64.4           61.8
Scoring margin      +1.9           +9.0
Rebound margin      +4.4           +5.4
Field goal%         41.2%          45.3%
Opp. FG%            38.8%          38.7%
3-pt. FG%           33.5%          37.6%
Free throw%         69.3%          72.8%
Assists per game    15.1           17.6
TOs per game        16.3           15.1
Steals per game      7.6            8.2