Fifth-Seeded Gauchos Take Momentum Into Big West Tournament First Round Game Against UC Riverside Wednesday

March 7, 2006

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The Schedule
Game No. 28
Big West Tournament First Round
Wednesday, March 8, 2006 at 6:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Riverside Highlanders
at The Anaheim Convention Center
Radio: KIST 1340 AM

Turner Out Of Tournament, Brown Will Play
Junior forward Glenn Turner will miss the Big West Tournament but senior guard Cecil Brown will play. During the second half of the Gauchos' penultimate game of the regular season at Pacific on March 2, Turner experienced shortness of breath and chest pains. He was taken to a Stockton hospital where he was given a battery of tests over a period of two days. While the tests were inconclusive, Turner will remain with his family in San Jose for additional medical tests in an attempt to find the cause of his breathing difficulties and chest pains. It was determined that a cautious approach was best and thus, he will not return to action this season. Brown suffered a very mild concussion in the second half of UCSB's regular season finale at Cal State Northridge on March 4, but he was suffering no ill effects the next day and was cleared to play on Wednesday.

Brown, Devine Named Second Team All-Big West
Senior guard Cecil Brown and sophomore forward Chris Devine were each named Second Team All-Big West Conference, it was announced Monday. Brown finished the regular season as UCSB's leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, a figure that ranked him ninth in league. He also finished with 40 three-point baskets, 2.1 assists per game, 3.9 rebounds per game and a free throw percentage of 78.7%. Devine ranked 12th in the league in scoring at 12.5 points, seventh in rebounding at 6.0 per game and first in field goal percentage at 55.8%. This marks the first time since 2003 that UCSB has had a player named to the first or second team. It also marks the first time since 2003 that the Gauchos have placed two players on the all-league teams.

Late Surge Assures UCSB Of .500 Season
At 7-11 with road games at UC Irvine, Long Beach State, Pacific and Cal State Northridge still looming, a .500 record seemed just about out of reach for UCSB as January came to a close. Since then, however, the Gauchos have turned things around, winning seven of nine games, including three of the four most daunting road games, at UC Irvine, Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge. In the season-finale, he Gauchos overcame an 18-point second half deficit to defeat Northridge in overtime, 82-78. The win gave Santa Barbara a 14-13 overall record and a 6-8 mark in the Big West Conference. The win over the Matadors also gave UCSB the fifth-seed in the Big West Tournament and assured the program of finishing with, at the very least, a .500 overall record.

Gauchos Fared Better Vs. Teams North Of Big West Equator
UCSB's fifth-seed in the Big West Tournament could have been better or it could have been worse. It would be easy to start reciting the ifs, but you know what Tommy Lasorda said about the word if, and this release is family-friendly, so it won't be repeated here. Either way, the Gauchos fared better against the teams that will not be playing on Wednesday than the other three who will join them in the first round. Against the top four seeded teams, Pacific, UC Irvine, Long Beach State and Cal Poly, UCSB went a respectable 4-4. In six games against the two through four seeds, the Gauchos were 4-2. On the other hand, against Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside, Santa Barbara posted a 2-4 mark, including 0-2 against Fullerton. Additionally, the Gauchos needed an improbable comeback on Saturday at Northridge to avoid a seventh-seed and a 1-5 record against their first round brethren.

Unlikely Win Closes Regular Season
Playing without Glenn Turner, its starting post player, and trailing by 18 points with just over 14 minutes to play at Cal State Northridge on Saturday, things looked pretty bleak for UCSB. The Gaucho fortunes took another turn for the worse when leading scorer Cecil Brown left the game with a mild concussion early in the second half. That, however, was when things got interesting. UCSB closed regulation with a 28-10 rally to tie the score at 74-74, and then outscored Northridge 18-12 in overtime to complete the biggest second half comeback in recent memory. Sophomore forward Chris Devine, who played 43 minutes, including all 25 in the second half and overtime, finished with career-highs of 25 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. He also made 12-of-14 free throws, including seven in the overtime period. As a team the Gauchos made 32-of-36 free throws overall and 24-of-25 after halftime. Senior guard Joe See, scoreless in the first half, finished with a season-high 19 points, including five three-point baskets. Senior Cameron Goettsche, who took over in the starting lineup for Turner, had 18 points and six rebounds. He made all eight of his free throw attempts and it was his resounding slam dunk that began the overtime and seemed to set the tone. Sophomore guard Alex Harris made just one field goal, but the one field goal was a pivotal one late in the game. Harris hit a three-pointer and was fouled. He converted the free throw for a rare four-point play. After making just one out of their ten three-point attempts in the first half of the game, the Gauchos went 7-of-11, 63.6%, after halftime. Also, after making 54.2% of their shots in the first half, including a blistering 8-of-12 from three-point range, Northridge hit just 10-of-26 the rest of the way, 38.5%, including 3-of-9 from three-point territory, 33.3%. Finally, UCSB, which had 25 turnovers in the first meeting between the schools on Jan. 26, had a more respectable 14 in the rematch.

The Opponent
UCSB and UC Riverside have played 15 times in a series that dates back to 1955. The Gauchos hold a decisive 14-4 edge all-time, but the teams have split the last six games with each team winning on its home floor. This season, the Highlanders edged the Gauchos 81-78 in the Big West season-opener for both teams on Jan. 2. UCSB bounced back on Feb. 25 with an 81-71 win at the Thunderdome. That game was Santa Barbara's home finale. The two schools have never played in the Big West Conference Tournament.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Joe See - Had season-highs of 19 points and five three-pointers in finale at Northridge.
G - Cecil Brown - Cleared to play in the Big West Tourney after missing most of second half at Northridge.
G - Michael Chambers - The Gauchos went 7-2 in his nine starting assignments.
F - Chris Devine - Had career-highs of 25 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and 43 minutes at Northridge.
F - Cameron Goettsche - Scored 18 at Northridge and has had 10 or more in four of last six games.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - Josh Davis - Had averaged 7.7 points in four games prior to regular season's final game.
G - Alex Harris - Has hit 39 of his last 47 free throw attempts, 83.0%.
G - Lance Hurdle - Has 17 steals in just 153 minutes this season.
G - James Powell - Freshman guard is redshirting the 2005-06 season.
G - Derek Rasp - Missed the final two regular season games with an injured right foot.
F - Glenn Turner - Will not play again this season as he continues medical tests.
F - Chidi Ajufo - After playing in just two of the first 12 league games, he played in the final two.
F - Tom Garlepp - Has scored just three points in the last 14 games.
F - Chris Moore - Scored a season-high four points in the game at Northridge on Saturday.
C - David Massey - Freshman center is redshirting the 2005-06 season.

The Bob Williams File
Bob Williams is completing his eighth season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara and after a slow start, the team has assured itself of, at the very minimum, a .500 season. Last year his team struggled with injuries and finished 11-18 overall and 7-11 in the Big West Conference. It marked the first time that a Williams-coached UCSB team finished below the .500 mark in league play. During the 2004-05 season, however, Williams became the fifth UCSB coach to record 100 wins. Prior to last season, he had guided the Gauchos to three straight winning seasons, the first time the program accomplished the feat since 1987-88 through 1989-90. In 2002-03, Williams' Gauchos went 18-14 overall and 14-4 in league. The 2002-03 Big West mark earned Santa Barbara its first-ever Big West regular season championship along with a postseason trip to the National Invitation Tournament. Additionally, the success earned Williams his second Big West Coach of the Year award, his first coming after an impressive 1999 campaign. In 2001-02, Williams guided UCSB to its first Big West Conference Tournament Championship ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. Including this season, Williams' UCSB teams have posted a 121-110 (.524) overall record and an 80-54 (.597) record in Big West games. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, he spent eight years at UC Davis and in those eight years, his teams recorded 20 or more wins five times and a 158-76 record. In Williams' final season, the Aggies went 31-2, won the NCAA Division II National Championship and he was named NABC Division II Coach of the Year. Including two seasons at Menlo College, Williams has a record of 310-210 (.596) at four-year schools. He recorded his 300th career coaching victory on Dec. 20, 2005, against Sonoma State.

Mr. February
UCSB's season turnaround came in great part to another outstanding February. Historically, Bob Williams' Gaucho teams have been particularly successful in the second month of the calendar year. February of 2006 was particularly friendly to Santa Barbara as it posted a 6-1 record. In his career, Williams has recorded a 40-19 (.678) record in February games. Last year, although they finished the year with an overall record of 11-18, the injury-riddled Gauchos were a respectable 3-4 in the second month of the year.

UCSB In The Big West Tourney
The Gauchos have posted an all-time record of 11-21 in the Big West Tournament. Last season UCSB defeated Long Beach State in the tournament's opening round by a score of 55-49. The Gauchos then dropped a quarterfinal game to Cal State Fullerton, 66-55. In 2004, the Gauchos lost a quarterfinal game to Cal State Northridge, 61-58. In 2003, UCSB defeated Pacific in the first round before losing to Cal Poly in the second round. In 2001-02, UCSB won its first Big West Tournament title ever, defeating Cal Poly, UC Irvine and Utah State on consecutive nights. Since Bob Williams became head coach in 1998-99, the Gauchos have gone 6-6 in Big West Tournament games.

The Gauchos Away From Home
UCSB is 5-9 away from home this season, but the Gauchos have won five out of seven and four of five since starting the year with seven straight road losses. UCSB's win at UC Davis on Jan. 15 ended a nine-game road losing streak that dated back to the final two road games of the 2004-05 season. After a loss at Cal Poly on Jan. 21, the Gauchos won consecutive road games at UC Irvine, Long Beach State and San Jose State. The three-game road winning streak was the program's longest since it also won three straight true road games in 1998-99. UCSB has won three consecutive games away from home, including neutral court games, on several occasions since Bob Williams became head coach.

UCSB Fares Well Out Of League
Not only have the Gauchos battled back to go above the .500 mark, they have also finished a pretty solid non-conference season. The win over San Jose State last Saturday was UCSB's fourth in a row over a non-Big West opponent and its fifth in six games. The Gauchos finished the 2005-06 non-conference schedule with a record of 8-5, including 6-0 at the Thunderdome and 2-5 on the road. Last season, UCSB went 3-6 in non-conference games. Granted the team is playing fewer Big West games this season, but the last time the Gauchos won as many as eight non-conference games was in 1988-89 when they had a perfect 9-0 record in non-league encounters.

The Gauchos At Home
The Gauchos finished 9-4 at home this season. After winning their first six Thunderdome games, they dropped consecutive games to UC Irvine, Cal State Northridge and Pacific. UCSB closed the year on the upswing at home, winning three of its last four games. In 2004-05, Santa Barbara went 8-4 at the Thunderdome, including 2-1 in non-conference games and 6-3 in league games. In three seasons prior to last year, Santa Barbara posted home records of 10-2 and the Gauchos have never won fewer than eight home games in a season under Bob Williams. UCSB is 74-30 at home since Williams arrived for the 1998-99 season.

Close Calls Are Not A Bad Thing
UCSB needed overtime to defeat Cal State Northridge in the regular season's final game on Saturday. The Gauchos posted an 82-76 win over the Matadors after overcoming an 18-point deficit in the second half. It marked the first time that Santa Barbara had played an overtime game since it won a double-overtime affair in the season-opener at San Diego State in 2004-05. The six-point margin of victory against Northridge gives the Gauchos a 9-4 record in games decided by 10 points or fewer. UCSB is also 6-4 when games are decided by five points or less. Santa Barbara won four of its last five games with a margin of five or fewer points. In fact, when they put together their season-best five-game winning streak, three of the wins came by four points or less. The Gauchos won at UC Irvine by one (60-59), at Long Beach State by three (81-78) and at San Jose State by four (76-72).

Free At Last
Early in the season, free throws were anything but for UCSB. In fact, they were quite costly. Through 27 games, the Gauchos are shooting 70.6% from the free throw line, but in 14 Big West games, they made 76.6%. In the last 12 games overall, UCSB has hit 186-of-234, 79.5%. In their final eight Big West games, the Gauchos went 149-of-184 from the line, 81.0%. In the last eight games overall, Santa Barbara made 153-of-188, 81.4%. In the regular season's final game at Cal State Northridge, UCSB made a season-high 32 out of a season-high 36, 88.9%. That performance pushed the team over the 70.0% mark for the first time in three seasons. The Gauchos enter the Big West Tournament at 70.6% as a team. At the beginning of the season, UCSB made 70.0% or better from the line just one time in its first eight games and just four times in its first 15 games. In the last 12 games of the regular season, the Gauchos were above 70.0% 10 times and above 80.0% seven times.

Still A Pretty Good Barometer
Through 23 games this season one thing was for certain. If UCSB went to the locker room at halftime with a lead, they were going to win. The Gauchos entered their Feb. 23 game against Cal State Fullerton with a perfect 10-0 record in games that they led after 20 minutes. So much for perfection. Against the Titans, UCSB led by eight points at the break, 43-35, but were outscored in the second half by a 45-33 margin and dropped an 80-76 game. On Feb. 25 against UC Riverside, however, the Gauchos led at the half and went on to win, improving to 11-1 when up at the break. UCSB did not lead at half of either of its final two regular season games.

UCSB Goes From Outhouse To Penthouse On Final Road Trip
It would be tough to experience a wilder swing of offensive fortunes than the Gauchos experienced on their final road trip of the regular season. On Thursday, March 2, UCSB was outscored 22-0 at the outset of its game against Pacific, never recovered, and wound up losing by a 64-36 count. The 36 points were the fourth fewest ever scored and the 12 points that the Gauchos could muster in the first half rank in a tie for the third fewest ever scored in a half by a UCSB team. Additionally, Santa Barbara made just 21.7% of its field goal attempts, the lowest field goal percentage since a 21.3% mark at Idaho during the 2003-04 campaign. So much for the outhouse. The penthouse came on Saturday at Cal State Northridge. Although the Gauchos didn't set the world on fire with their 38.9% shooting from the field, they did score 82 points in the overtime win, equaling their season-high. Also, after scoring 36 points in the entire game at Pacific, UCSB scored 55 points after halftime in the win over the Matadors, including 37 in the second half.

Getting Offensive
UCSB scored 82 points in Saturday's win at Cal State Northridge. It was the fourth time this season that the Gauchos had scored 80 or more points in a game and the third time in the last seven. While Santa Barbara is averaging 66.8 points per game on the year, it has averaged 70.2 per game in the last five, not bad considering the 36-point game at Pacific, and 70.0 per game while winning seven out of its last nine. Also, UCSB enters the Big West Tournament having made 50.0% or better in eight of 27 games after doing so just one time in 29 games during the 2004-05 season.

The Defense Rests...A Little
On Feb. 15, UCSB limited Cal Poly to 37 points and just 10-of-47 from the field, 21.3%. It was the lowest opponents field goal percentage since Bob Williams became head coach. In the five games since, however, the Gauchos have not been quite as stingy. Although UCSB has gone 3-2 in the last five, including 2-1 on the road, opponents have hit 39.3% or better in all five games. In the last five, the opposition has made 125-of-275, 45.5%, slightly higher than the opponents season mark of 44.4%. Interestingly, the lowest field goal percentage in the last five games, 39.3%, was recorded during the worst beating of the year, 64-36 at Pacific.

Take Me To Your Leaders
While Cecil Brown and Chris Devine are clearly UCSB's offensive leaders this season, the Gauchos have achieved outstanding balance. Brown's regular season average of 13.4 points per game is the highest by a Gaucho player since Branduinn Fullove averaged 14.6 points per game in 2002-03. With Devine at 12.5 points per game, this will also mark the first time since 2002-03, that UCSB will have two players averaging 12.0 points or more. Five different Gauchos are averaging 7.7 points per game or better and six different players have led the team in scoring. Also, 10 of the 13 players to see action this season have scored in double-figures at least once and eight have done so two times or more. Additionally, UCSB was paced in rebounding by Devine at 6.0 per game and Glenn Turner at 5.6 per game, but six different players have led the team in that category. Three different Gauchos have had double-figure rebounds in a game and all three, Devine, Turner and Alex Harris, have recorded double-doubles.

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