Defending National Champion North Carolina, Rivalry Games, Highlight 2005-06 UCSB Basketball Schedule

June 15, 2005

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

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A road game at defending National Champion North Carolina, the renewal of a number of traditional rivalries and an appearance in ESPN's Bracket Busters, highlight the 2005-06 UC Santa Barbara men's basketball schedule, announced today by head coach Bob Williams.

The Gauchos will play the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill on Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving. On their return trip, UCSB will make a Nov. 28 stop in Tempe, Ariz., to play Arizona State. A week before that excursion, Santa Barbara will open the regular season with home games against the West Coast Conference's San Francisco (Nov. 18) and San Diego (Nov. 21).

UCSB will open the December portion of its schedule on Dec. 3 at Loyola Marymount. The game against the Lions will renew a long-time series that has been on hold since the teams last met during the 2001-02 season. The Gauchos will return home on Dec. 7 to host another traditional rival, Pepperdine. Following a brief layoff for final examinations, UCSB will hit the road again for a Dec. 17 game at San Diego State. On Dec. 20, the Gauchos return home to host NCAA Division II power Sonoma State.

The final pre-Christmas game will mark the resurrection of another traditional rivalry. On Dec. 23, UCSB travels to Fresno State. The game between the Gauchos and Bulldogs will mark the first time the programs have met since the 1991-92 season. Following the 1991-92 campaign, FSU departed the Big West Conference to join the Western Athletic Conference. Finally, the pre-conference schedule will conclude with a Dec. 28 home encounter against the University of Portland. UCSB will play three additional non-conference games during the Big West schedule, including two against future Big West member UC Davis. On Feb. 18, the Gauchos will take part in ESPN's Bracket Buster Saturday, in all likelihood with a road game, against an opponent to be determined at the beginning of February.

Santa Barbara will open Big West play with road games at UC Riverside (Jan. 2) and Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 4), and then return home for its first two league home games against Long Beach State (Jan. 7) and UC Irvine (Jan. 9). Following a non-conference game at UC Davis (Jan. 15), UCSB will play at Central Coast rival Cal Poly (Jan. 26), before closing out January with home games against Cal State Northridge (Jan. 26) and defending Big West regular season champion Pacific (Jan. 28). UC Davis will visit the Thunderdome on Feb. 2. The Gauchos hit the road for games at UC Irvine (Feb. 9) and Long Beach State (Feb. 11), before hosting Cal Poly (Feb. 15).

After the ESPN Bracket Buster game on Feb. 18, UCSB will return to the Thunderdome for its final two home games of the campaign, against Cal State Fullerton (Feb. 23) and UC Riverside (Feb. 25). The regular season will wind-up the following weekend with a trip to Pacific (Mar. 2) and Cal State Northridge (Mar. 4). The Big West Tournament will take place Mar. 8-11 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

"This is the best home schedule we've had in my seven years here, and that's what stands out most to me," Williams commented. "There is a great opportunity for us to get off to a good start and put last year behind us. We'll be able to get the fans and community support back early, and hopefully they'll have a healthy team to watch."

Williams also expressed excitement about playing the defending NCAA Champion North Carolina and a Pac Ten opponent on the same road trip.

"The opportunity to play the defending National Champion is an awesome challenge, and then playing Arizona State of the Pac Ten on the way back makes it even better," he said. "Also having old rivals in Fresno State and Loyola Marymount back on the schedule is a nice addition, and it goes well with our continuing rivalries with Pepperdine, San Diego and San Francisco, and hopefully a new rivalry with Portland. I am extremely pleased with the number of preseason home games and the caliber of those opponents. Overall, I am very pleased with the schedule."

The Gauchos will also play a pair of exhibition games. The first, against Division II UC San Diego, is scheduled for Nov. 3, but the second, against local opponent Westmont College, does not yet have a date.

Finally, with the Big West Conference Council accepting the recommendation of the league's basketball coaches, all Saturday league games will be played in the afternoon. The times will vary from campus to campus, but UCSB has elected to play its Saturday home games at 2:00 p.m. The Gauchos will have a three league home games on Saturday.