March 11, 2004

Tonight's Game: UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State Northridge

March 11, 2004

Santa Barbara, Calif. - Tonight UC Santa Barbara takes on Cal State Northridge in the second round of the Big West Tournament. Because of Santa Barbara's third place finish during conference play, the Gauchos received a first-round bye in the post-season tournament. Northridge enters tonight's game after defeating Cal State Fullerton last night, in the first round of the tournament. CSUN, the lowest remaining seed, tips off against UCSB in Anaheim's Convention Center at 6:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on KTLK 1340 AM.

UC Santa Barbara Probable Starters
After shaking up the starting lineup during the end of conference play, it seems that the coaching staff has found a rotation that they like. Starting in the backcourt tonight will be seniors Jacoby Atako and Branduinn Fullove, along with sophomore Cecil Brown. Atako has come alive as the season has worn on, averaging 8.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game over the last five contests. On the season, Atako is scoring six points per game while shooting a career-best 47% from the floor. Fullove has taken over as the team leader, boosting his scoring average to 10.9 points per game. He has scored in double figures in the last seven games and was recently named Big West Honorable Mention. Brown will be the third starter in the backcourt, though senior Nick Jones or fellow sophomore Josh Davis could also be considered. Brown is scoring 7.9 points per game and recently notched a career-high in the victory over Cal State Fullerton. Starting on the blocks for UCSB will be sophomore Cameron Goettsche and junior Casey Cook. Goettsche, though nursing a fractured thumb, has been playing tremendous basketball as of late, grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds, to go along with 16 points, in a recent victory over UC Irvine. He is third on the team in scoring with 8.3 points per game and he leads the Gauchos on the boards, pulling down 5.6 rebounds per contest. Cook is second on the team in scoring and rebounding with averages of 10.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He leads the team in field goal percentage at 49.7%.

Cal State Northridge Probable Starters
Starting in the backcourt for the Matadors will be Davin White and Joseph Frazier. White scored 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor in last night's victory over Cal State Fullerton. He is third on the team in scoring with 13.3 points per game, and he has dished out a team-high 76 assists on the season. Frazier scored 20 points in last night's game including a 3-for-4 performance from behind the three-point line. On the season he is averaging 12.1 points per game while shooting 54.8% from the floor. Starting on the blocks for CSUN will be juniors Ian Boylan and Etoagwara Onyenegecha. Boylan is leading the Matadors in scoring with an average of 13.8 points per game. He is pulling down 4.4 rebounds per game and finished the regular season as the Big West's leader in steals per game. Last night, Boylan scored a career-high 31 points to help Northridge knock of Fullerton. Onyenegecha is second on the team in scoring, 13.7 point per game, but leads CSUN in rebounding with 6.5 rebounds per game. He got into foul trouble last night and finished with just two points and two rebounds. Starting at center for CSUN will be 6-foot-10 freshman Thomas Shewmake. Shewmake is averaging 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Last night Shewmake pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds, to go along with four points.

Scouting the Gauchos
UC Santa Barbara is coming off its best conference game this year. Although a victory over Long Beach State, 6-21 overall, is not much to brag about, it seemed as though the Gauchos used it as an opportunity to work out all the remaining kinks before heading off to post-season play. UCSB is playing good defense, finishing the season second in the league in scoring defense and third in field goal percentage defense. The Gauchos are also rebounding well, ranking second in team rebounding and third in rebounding margin. Offensively, Santa Barbara is second in three-point field goal percentage and third in scoring margin. But more importantly than the team's statistics is the emergence of big-game players. Fullove is capable of taking the team on his back and leading the Gauchos through this tournament. Jones seems to have come alive after a lack-luster regular season, sparking UCSB with 23 points in the victory over Long Beach. With Jones playing his best basketball of the season, the Gauchos finally have their other key weapon. Atako and Cook have both been in this position before and know how to handle themselves, as well as the coaching staff, who have led the Gauchos from being underdogs to an NCAA birth already once before.

Scouting the Matadors
Cal State Northridge must be feeling good about itself after beating Cal State Fullerton in the first round of the tournament. Behind a career-high 31 from Boylan and solid performances from Frazier and White, the Matadors cruised to an 80-70 victory and got themselves off on the right foot. As a team, Northridge is shooting 43.9% from the floor and 33.5% from behind the three-point line. They average 5.7 three-pointers per game, while allowing their opponents 5.6 per outing. The team averages 30.7 rebounds per game and have a rebounding margin on -2.0. All in all, Cal State Northridge is very average statistically, but it is coming off a big win and Northridge has some players that can make significant differences in any game, if they come alive. Boylan is an all-around very good player. He sparked the Matadors in last night's victory, and when he plays like that, they can be very hard to beat.

Key Match Up
The key match-up in tonight's game will be Branduinn Fullove against Ian Boylan. Clearly Boylan provides the spark for Northridge, and when he is on, the team is on. Last night was a perfect example as he led the Matadors past Fullerton with a career-high 31 points. Fullove leads the Gauchos in the same manner, and it is essential for him to guide Santa Barbara through the Big West Tournament. It is probable that the two will start out guarding each other tonight and the player that has the better game, will likely lead his team to victory.

What To Look For
Look for an intense game between two teams that are hot and want to advance in this year-end tournament. Everybody knows that with the exception of Utah State, no team from the Big West has an opportunity to make it to the big dance without a conference championship via the Big West Tournament. Therefore, each and every game will be played with motivation and as much effort as is left in the tank. Look for this game to be a battle, losing means going home and nobody wants to do that.