Tonight's Game: UC Santa Barbara v. USC

Dec. 3, 2002

Tonight UCSB battles USC in a big preseason test for the Gauchos. Santa Barbara will face off with the Trojans at 7:00 p.m. at UCSB's Thunderdome and the game will be broadcast on KEYT 1250 AM.

UCSB Probable Starting Lineup:
The Gauchos will most likely start the same five that destroyed a USF team Saturday night in Santa Barbara. Junior Jacoby Atako will run the point with his 4.25 assists per game average and .545 shooting percentage. Juniors Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones will start at the other guard positions. Fullove and Jones are tied for the team lead in points per game with 16.5 and both have hit eight three-pointers. Fullove has dished out 11 assists while Jones leads the team in rebounding at 6.2 per game. At the forward positions will be senior Mark Hull and junior Bryan Whitehead. Hull leads the team in minutes played, going at least 33 a game and is scoring 13.2 points per contest, despite seeing double teams and zones trying to stop him. Whitehead has started all four Gaucho preseason games and is shooting 57 percent from the floor. He also leads the team in blocks with five.

USC Probable Starting Lineup:
The Trojans will likely start Roydell Smiley and Robert Hutchinson in the backcourt. Smiley, a 6-4 guard has started all three preseason games for the Trojans and is averaging 11.7 points per game. Hutchinson has also started all three games for Southern Cal and he leads the team in assists with four per game. Desmon Farmer will also peruse the backcourt, a slasher with exceptional athletic ability, he leads the team in scoring at 16 points per game. Down on the blocks will be forward Nick Curtis and Center Kostas Charissis. Curtis is leading the team in rebounding with 8.7 boards per game while also netting 13 points a game. Charissis, a 6-11 senior from Greece, leads the team in shooting percentage hitting 77 percent of his shots.

Scouting the Trojans:
USC comes into this game with a record of 2-1. The Trojans handled UC Riverside in their first game of the season but lost to Rhode Island soon after. In their last game USC demolished Morris Brown. Desmon Farmer seems to be the Trojan's go to guy as he leads the team in points, knocking down 24 against Morris Brown. However, five other Trojans scored in double figures that game and three players including Farmer recorded double-doubles. Off the bench, Errick Craven has scored 14.5 points per game, that's second on the team behind Farmer yet Craven has played half as many minutes as Farmer has. Robert Hutchinson seems to be Southern Cal's biggest three-point threat. In three games he has drilled seven threes in just 15 attempts. Clearly the Gauchos need to pressure the Trojan guards who have the potential to catch fire at any time. Underneath the basket the Trojans are also solid. Nick Curtis appears to be a monster on the glass ripping down almost nine rebounds a game. Charissis can rebound as well, grabbing almost eight per game.

Scouting the Gauchos:
Junior guard Nick Jones has had the hot hand as of late for the Gauchos. While leading UCSB in rebounding, Jones is tied for the team lead in scoring and is second in three-point percentage. His only downfall so far this season has been his tendency to foul, Jones leads the team with 14 personals. Branduinn Fullove is still getting warm after his ankle injury. Last game he came out strong scoring 19 points on 7-12 shooting but Fullove can easily go for more. If Fullove catches fire the Trojans better have a hose, otherwise they'll leave the Thunderdome at .500. Mark Hull has had a tough time getting the ball early in the preseason after his remarkable performance in the NCAA tournament last year. Teams have learned about Hull, so wisely, they choose to cover him now. Despite blanket defense, Hull is second on the team with 13.2 points per game. Casey Cook, Josh Davis, and Cecil Brown have come off the bench for the Gauchos to provide a spark in all of UCSB's preseason games. Cook has played very well down low, helping to hold opponents' big men to limited points while averaging 7.2 points per game himself. Davis and Brown are both around five points per game but have shown flashes of brilliance on the floor.

Key Match-up:
Tonight the Trojans are going to have to deal with Mark Hull. Depending on who guards Hull, this will be the key match-up. Most likely USC will send Nick Curtis out to try and handle Hull. Curtis, a 6-8 forward from Oxnard, California has started all three Trojan preseason games and has put up solid offensive numbers. However, it will be his defense that is important tonight. Hull is the Gaucho's biggest threat, the senior leader, and if he can have his way with the Trojans, like he did with other Pac-10 foe Arizona, the Gauchos will be riding high as the Trojans leave defeated.

What to look for:
Look for tonight's game to be a fast paced, athletic affair. Both teams are guard heavy and both teams are young. Chances are the guards will push the ball fast and we'll see some full-court press. Also, look for the Gauchos to come out hot after last weekend's beating of USF. Santa Barbara is coming together, they're getting healthy and they're hungry. Rest assure, Coach Williams will have the Gauchos fired up for what may turn out to be the biggest game of UCSB's pre-season.