Gauchos Go for Seventh Straight Win, Host Utah Valley Friday Night at the Thunderdome

Gauchos Go for Seventh Straight Win, Host Utah Valley Friday Night at the Thunderdome

Dec. 6, 2007

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The Schedule
Game No. 10
Friday, December 7, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Utah Valley State Wolverines
at UCSB's Thunderdome
TV: None
Radio: KTMS 990/1490-AM
Internet: BigWest.TV

Game No. 11
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Ball State Cardinals
at BSU's Worthen Arena
TV: None
Radio: KTMS 990/1490-AM

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara has jumped out to an 8-1 record in 2007-08. The Gauchos won their first two games of the year, defeating Northwestern State and Harvard at the Basketball Travelers Classic in Palo Alto, then lost at Stanford, which was nationally-ranked at the time. Since then, UCSB has put together a six-game winning streak. Five of the wins have come at home (Cal Poly Pomona, San Francisco, Montana State, UNLV and Pepperdine) and one (Loyola Marymount) came on the road.

Gauchos Off To Their Best Start In 15 Seasons
UCSB's 8-1 start is the program's best in 15 years. The last time the Gauchos won eight of their first nine games was in 1992-93 when they went 8-1 before losing three in a row. The only time a UCSB team had a better nine-game record was in 1988-89 when it posted a perfect 9-0 record to open the year. The 1988-89 team ultimately opened the season at 11-0 and 15-1.

UCSB will take a six-game winning streak into its game against Utah Valley State on Friday night. The Gauchos had three four-game winning streaks in 2006-07, but could never get beyond that. The current six-game winning streak is the longest that a Bob Williams-coached UCSB team has had. The last time Santa Barbara won as many as six games in a row was in 1992-93 when it won six in a row to start the season. The Gauchos also had six-game winning streaks in 1991-92 and 1989-90. The last time they had a longer streak was in 1988-89 when they opened the season with 11 straight victories.

Powell Named Big West Co-Player Of The Week
Sophomore guard James Powell was named Big West co-Player of the Week after helping UCSB to a pair of wins last week. Powell scored 15 points, all in the second half, as the Gauchos came from behind to defeat UNLV, 63-60 on Nov. 27. It was his three-pointer with less than half a second left that snapped a 60-60 tie and gave his team the win. On Saturday, Powell had 11 points to go with season-highs of six rebounds and five assists as UCSB defeated Loyola Marymount, 63-56. The honor was the first ever for Powell. He is the second Gaucho to win the award this season, joining Alex Harris.

Gauchos Use Another Strong Second Half To Win Fifth Straight
Alex Harris scored 22 points and UC Santa Barbara's defense forced Pepperdine into 25 turnovers and just 28.0% shooting in the first half, as the Gauchos won their sixth straight game, 68-57 on Wednesday night. The Waves scored the first seven points of the game, but a 10-0 run put UCSB in front for good. In fact, the Gauchos led by as many as 26 points on three occasions, the last coming at 60-34 with 9:11 to play. Pepperdine whittled the lead in the final minutes, but never pulled closer than the 11-point margin that ended the game. After a slow start, Harris scored 13 of his points as the Gauchos outscored the Waves 32-12 in the final 17:30 of the first half to build an insurmountable 32-19 halftime lead. Santa Barbara used a stifling defensive effort to pull away from Pepperdine. The Gauchos forced 14 turnovers in the first half and 25 for the game, the second highest defensive total this season. They also had a season-high 16 steals, equaling the third most in school history. James Powell made 2-of-3 from beyond the three-point line and finished with 13 points. Chris Devine, who finished with 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds, was one of three Gauchos with three steals, joining Justin Joyner and D.J. Posley. Joyner had a season-high six assists while Posley scored a career-high seven points. Ivan Elliott had eight points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal. He also drew praise from Williams for his effort. The Waves were led by Malcolm Thomas who had 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Daniel Johnson had 11 points. Pepperdine was held more than 26 points below its season average of 83.3 points per game.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Justin Joyner - Passed-off for a season-high six assists in win over Pepperdine.
G - Alex Harris - Has led the Gauchos in scoring in all eight of his appearances.
G - James Powell - Has scored in double-figures in four straight and five of the last six.
F - Chris Devine - Came-up with a season-high three steals in win over Pepperdine.
F - Ivan Elliott - Has 12 of UCSB's 22 blocked shots on the season.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Nick Quick - Played one minute against Pepperdine, his first action since Nov. 15.
G - Jordan Weiner - Has made 2-of-3 shots on the year, both from three-point range.
G - Paul Roemer - Has played 141 minutes in nine games after playing 132 in all of 2006-07.
G - D.J. Posley - Leads the Gauchos with 14 steals and has at least one in seven straight.
G - George Murphy - Has yet to play in a game.
F - Nedim Pajevic - UCSB is 5-0 when he scores in double-figures.
F - Sam Phippen - Recorded personal-highs of three points and four rebounds at LMU.
F - Beau Gibb - Has played 77 minutes this season after playing 72 in 2006-07.
F - Spencer Ford - Freshman forward will redshirt 2007-08 season.

The Bob Williams File
Bob Williams is in his 10th season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. Last year his team recorded an overall record of 18-11 and a Big West mark of 9-5. The 18 wins were the most regular season wins by a Gaucho team since 1991-92 and it equaled the second most wins a Williams-coached UCSB team has ever had. Williams has led Santa Barbara to winning records in five of the last six seasons, the only exception being a 2004-05 team that was ravaged by injuries. He has guided UCSB to a pair of postseason appearances. In 2002-03, the 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 trip to the postseason 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 title ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. Including this season, Williams' UCSB teams have posted a 148-123 (.546) overall record and an 86-59 (.589) 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 337-223 (.602) at four-year schools.

UCSB Ranked 14th In Mid-Major Poll
After opening the 2007-08 season ranked 20th in the Mid-Major Poll, the Gauchos dropped to 23rd in the second poll, jumped to 22nd in the third poll, to 18th in the fourth and to a season-high 14th this week.

The Opposition
UCSB and Utah Valley State will be playing for the first time. The Gauchos will also be meeting Ball State for the first time in the history of the world.

The Gauchos At Home
With wins over Pepperdine, UNLV, Montana State, San Francisco and Cal Poly Pomona, UCSB is 5-0 at the Thunderdome this season. In 2006-07, the Gauchos uncharacteristically struggled at home with an 8-6 record. With the five straight Thunderdome wins to open the 2007-08 season, Santa Barbara has now won seven straight home games dating back to last year.

The Gauchos On The Road
The Gauchos are 1-1 in true road games this season. In its last road game, Dec. 1 at Loyola Marymount, UCSB posted a 63-56 win. The Gauchos lost their only other road games this year, 67-48 at Stanford on Nov. 11. Santa Barbara has won a pair of neutral court encounters this season, defeating Northwestern State (92-71) and Harvard (79-61) at the Basketball Travelers Classic, also at Stanford. In 2006-07, the Gauchos recorded an all-time best 10-4 record on the road.

Playing The Margins
After having each of their first four games decided by 18 points or more, things have tightened-up for the Gauchos. Three of the last five games have been decided by seven or fewer points and UCSB is a perfect 3-0 in those games. On Nov. 20, UCSB defeated San Francisco by five points, 74-69. On Nov. 27, Santa Barbara played its closest game of the season, a 63-60 win over visiting UNLV. Saturday, the Gauchos won a seven-point decision at Loyola Marymount, 63-56.

Breaking The Rebound Rule
UCSB is being outrebounded on the season by an average of 3.1 rebounds per game. The Gauchos have won the battle of the boards just three times in nine games, doing so against Northwestern State, Cal Poly Pomona and UNLV. In the six games that their opponents have outrebounded them, they have gone 5-1, meaning that they have gone a perfect 3-0 in games when they outrebound their opponents. The largest rebound deficit that UCSB has had this season is 17, in the only loss of the year, 67-49 at Stanford.

That `70s Show
While UCSB has allowed 70 or more points in a game just one time this season, the Gauchos have scored 70 or more five times, going 5-0 in those games. UCSB has actually scored 74 or more five times this season, all in the first six games. The Gauchos are averaging 70.9 points per game, slightly below the 71.2 points per game they averaged last year. Their highest scoring effort this year was a 92-point explosion in the opener against Northwestern State, and their lowest scoring effort was a 48 point output on Nov. 11 at Stanford.

Men Of Steal
The 16 steals that UCSB had in Wednesday night's win over Pepperdine were the third most in school history and the most since it had 18 against UC Irvine on Jan. 30, 1999. D.J. Posley, Chris Devine and Justin Joyner each had three to lead the way. The Gauchos had five players with at least two steals in the game. On the year, they now have 79 steals in nine games, 8.8 per game, an increase of 2.6 steals per game from the average of 6.2 per game that they averaged in 2006-07. Posley leads the team with 14.

That Will Do It For 2007
Friday's home game against Utah Valley State will be UCSB's final home game of the 2007 calendar year. After the game against the Wolverines, the Gauchos will take 12 days off for final examinations. Actually, the team will take 10 days off before boarding a 6:00 a.m. flight that will ultimately take them, and me, to Muncie, Ind., where it will play Ball State on Dec. 19. Santa Barbara will complete the year by playing at North Carolina on Dec. 22 (Merry Christmas!) and at Eastern Washington on Dec. 29.

The Defense Never Rests
The Gauchos are allowing just 62.0 points per game, a drop of more than five points per game from last year's defensive average of 67.4 per game. UCSB has allowed more than 70 points in a game one time, the season opener against Northwestern State when the Demons scored 71. The Gauchos have allowed fewer than 60 points three times, including the last most recent two games, against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount, when the opponents scored 57 and 56 respectively. In the last four games, opponent have averaged 58.5 per game and during the six-game winning streak they are at 59.8%.

Turning Over A New Leaf
Probably the most important aspect of the defense being employed by UCSB this season is its ability to cause turnovers. In recent years, Gaucho teams have played good defense in the sense that they have generally limited opponents to low field goal and three-point percentages, and relatively low point totals. What UCSB's defense has not done is force turnovers and thus create points from the turnovers. Through nine games in 2007-08, that has changed. Santa Barbara's first nine opponents have turned the ball over 191 times, an average of 21.2 per game. In 2006-07, the highest total of turnovers forced by UCSB was 21, by Pepperdine in a double overtime game. This season, six of the first nine opponents have had 21 or more turnovers in a game and none has had fewer than 16, the total that Stanford and UNLV produced. In the season opener, Northwestern State coughed-up 28 turnovers, a season-high, and on Dec. 5, Pepperdine had 25, the second-highest total. In 2006-07, Gaucho opponents averaged 13.4 turnovers per game and had 16 or more seven times in 29 games, and 20 or more just once. On the other side of the court, UCSB is committing its share of turnovers as well, although not at the same clip as the opposition. The Gauchos have 147 turnovers through nine games, 16.3 per game, an increase of 2.4 per game over 2006-07. Santa Barbara has had 17 or more turnovers five times and 20 or more three times. The Gauchos had a season-high 23 turnovers on Nov. 20 against San Francisco.

Three-Point Imbalance
In Wednesday night's win over Pepperdine, UCSB made more than half of its three-point field goal attempts. Led by Alex Harris, who made 4-of-5, the Gauchos made 9-of-13 shots from outside the arc for a season-best 69.2%. For the season, they are now making 40.9% of their three-point shots, but in the last six games, all wins, they have made 50-of-112, 44.6%. On the other hand, UCSB opponents are making just 28.0% of their three-point attempts and the highest percentage an opponent has shot in a game was 36.8%, which Northwestern State achieved in the opener on Nov. 9. On Wednesday, Pepperdine made just 4-of-21 from three-point territory, 19.0%. In the last five games, Gaucho opponents have made just 24 out of 100 three-point attempts, 24.0%. Finally, while UCSB has tried fewer three-pointers than its opponents (168-159), the Gauchos have made 18 more (65-47).

Take Me To Your Leaders
While only two players (Alex Harris and James Powell) have led the Gauchos in scoring this season, the same has not held true for the other statistical categories. UCSB has had eight players lead or tie for the team-lead in steals, six lead or tie for the team-lead in rebounding, five lead or tie for the lead in assists, and five have done so in blocked shots.

The Harris Poll
Senior guard Alex Harris scored 22 points in UCSB's win over Pepperdine on Wednesday and in doing so, he increased his career point total to 1,256 and moved from 11th to eighth on the school's all-time scoring list. In fact, since the season began, Harris has jumped from 18th to his current eighth on the list. His next target is Scott Fisher (1982-86), who finished his career with 1,351 points. Harris, who is now averaging a team-leading 23.4 points per game, has led the Gauchos in scoring in all eight of his appearances this season. He missed the team's home opener on Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona with an injured left thumb, but in five games since his return has averaged 23.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He has also made 15 three-pointers in the last five games On Wednesday, he tied his season-high with four three-pointers in just five attempts. Harris is now shooting 45.2% from three-point range, but in the five games since his return from injury, he has made 15-of-28, 53.6%. In addition to having led UCSB in scoring in all eight of his games this season, Harris has scored 20 or more points six times. He had a season-high 29 points on Nov. 24 against Montana State and he had 27 points on Nov. 20 against San Francisco and Nov. 9 against Northwestern State. In the win over Montana State, he scored 21 of his 29 points in the second half, making 15-of-18 free throws in the process. A native of Alameda, Calif., Harris scored a game-high 19 points on Nov. 27 against UNLV, including 16 in the second half, to help the Gauchos come back from a 13-point deficit to win, 63-60. A Preseason All-Big West and Mid-Major All-America selection, Harris has also emerged as a rebounder of late. While he is averaging 4.4 per game, he has averaged 5.2 per game in the last four and he had a season-high eight against Montana State. Finally, while Harris is averaging 8.4 free throw attempts per game and shooting 83.6% from the free throw line, he failed to go to the line even once in Wednesday's win over Pepperdine. He has had nine or more attempts five times this season.

The Devine File
Junior forward Chris Devine is second on the team in scoring at 13.0 points per game and with seven rebounds in Wednesday's win over Pepperdine, he has taken over the team-lead in rebounding at 5.3 per game. He also tied hi season-high with three steals on Wednesday and now has 10, also second on the team. Devine scored 10 points in the game against the Waves and has now scored in double-figures in all eight games in which he has played this season, also going for 13 or more six times. He had a season-high 18 on Nov. 20 against San Francisco. Last Saturday, against Loyola Marymount, Devine collected a season-high nine rebounds and he has averaged 7.7 over the last three games and 6.5 since totaling three in the first two games this season. He has had three of his four best rebounding efforts in the last four games. While Devine is shooting exactly 50.0% on the season, he has made 32-of-62, 51.6%, in his last seven games. In the last six games, he has made 4-of-6 shots from beyond the three-point arc. Although he has not made a three-pointer in either of the last two games, Devine made one in four straight prior to that. He has also been outstanding from the free throw line, making 83.3% overall and 15 of his last 16, 93.7%. Finally, Devine, a Preseason All-Big West choice, is now averaging 26.6 minutes per game, but in the last four games his playing time has increased. In his first four games this season, the senior from Eagle River, Alaska, averaged 22.2 minutes per outing, playing a high of 31 on Nov. 1 at Stanford, but in his last for games, he has played 125 total minutes, 31.2 per game, including a high of 34 on Nov. 27 against UNLV.

Old Buddy, Old Powell
After struggling with his offense through the first three games of the year, sophomore guard James Powell has had his five best offensive performances of the season in the last six games. In fact, for his efforts in wins over UNLV and Loyola Marymount on Nov. 27 and Dec. 1 respectively, Powell was named Big West co-Player of the Week, his first career Player of the Week honor. In the two games, he averaged 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. In the win over the Rebels, Powell made the game-winning three-pointer with less than half a second remaining. He finished with 15 points on a career-high five three-pointers, all in the second half, as the Gauchos overcame a 13-point deficit to win. On Wednesday, Powell scored 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting overall and 2-of-3 from three-point range and has now scored in double-figures in four straight games for the first time this season. After averaging 5.7 points per game through the first three games, he has averaged 13.8 per game in the last six, improving his overall average to a season-best 11.1 points per game. On Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona, Powell scored a career-high 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting overall and 4-of-7 from three-point range. It was a key performance because it came in the absence of Alex Harris who missed the game with an injured left thumb. Powell is second on the team in three-pointers with 18, an average of 2.0 per game. He has made 16 of his three-pointers in the last seven games and since making just 2-of-9 from three-point territory in the first three games of the season, he has drained 16-of-34 in the last seven, 47.1%. He has taken over the team lead with 16 three-point baskets, an average of 2.0 per game. Finally, Powell had four rebounds on Wednesday against Pepperdine and is now averaging 3.2 per game on the year. He has had four or more four times, including each of the last three games.

A Piece Of The Pajevic (Pronounced Pie-uh-vich)
After a run of three consecutive double-figure scoring performances, senior forward Nedim Pajevic has struggled in his last three games. In wins over Pepperdine, UNLV and Loyola Marymount, Pajevic made just 1-of-5 field goal attempts and totaled just seven points, 2.3 per game. On Wednesday against the Waves, he did make his only field goal attempt, but he scored just two points in a season-low 10 minutes of play. He also had just one rebound, his first in two games. On the year, Pajevic is now averaging 7.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He has scored 10 or more points five times in nine games, including a season-high 16 points on Nov. 10 against Harvard. Pajevic has also produced UCSB's only double-double of the season, going for 10 points and 10 rebounds on Nov. 20 against San Francisco. His best overall game was probably when he had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists on Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona. Pajevic has provided the Gauchos with one of their best passing post players in a while and he is averaging 2.2 assists per game, third on the team. He has had two or more assists in six of nine games this season, including Wednesday night's game against Pepperdine when he had two in his 10 minutes.

Ivan The Good
Senior forward Ivan Elliott's numbers were good in Wednesday night's win over Pepperdine. He made 3-of-4 shots, including his only three-point attempt, scored eight points, had five rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal. The three assists tied his career-high. Elliott is now averaging 8.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He also leads the team with 12 blocked shots and his nine steals are tied for third. He has had at least one steal in four straight games. By making his only three-point attempt against the Waves, Elliott now has nine on the season and has hit at least one in seven games. He is shooting exactly 50.0% both overall and from beyond the three-point arc. The five rebounds he had on Wednesday gives him five or more in six of the nine games this year. Elliott scored a career-high 17 points in the season opener against Northwestern State on Nov. 9. He has had three games of 10 oro more point, including twice in the last four games.

Justin Joins In
Sophomore point guard Justin Joyner had a season-high six assists and three steals in Wednesday night's win over Pepperdine. While he scored just two points, making 1-of-5 shots from the floor, Joyner was a key factor in forcing Pepperdine into 25 turnovers. He is averaging 3.2 points per game, but he leads the team with 34 assists, an average of 3.8 per game, and he has committed just 20 turnovers. In the last four games, Joyner has 16 assists and seven turnovers, 2.3-to-1.0 ratio. He has had four or more assists six times in nine games. The team-leader in steals last year, his three against the Waves gives him nine on the season. He has had at least one in seven games, including each of the last four. Of Joyner's 29 points, 17 came in games against UNLV (eight) and Harvard (nine). He is also averaging 2.9 rebounds per game and tied his season-high with five on Nov. 27 against UNLV. In that same game, Joyner doubled his season total of three-pointers, hitting a pair during the Gauchos' second half rally, helping them overcome a 13-point deficit. Joyner had missed nine straight three-point attempts before making 2-of-3 in the second half against the Rebels.

Strike A Posley
Junior guard D.J. Posley had possibly his best game of the season against Pepperdine. Posley had a personal-best seven point, making 3-of-6 field goal attempts overall and his only three-point attempt, and he tied his high with three steals. He is now averaging 2.4 points per game, but is at 3.3 per game in the last six. Also, since he opened the year by missing 11 of his first 12 shots, Posley has gone 8-for-15, 53.3%. Finally, Posley leads the team in steals with 14 and he has at least one in eight games, including seven in a row, and two or more four times.

Roemer Charges
In 2006-07, sophomore guard Paul Roemer played 132 minutes in 16 games. This year, Roemer has been a valuable reserve and has already played 141 minutes, an average of 15.7 per game. On Wednesday, he had four points, his highest total since Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona, and he tied his season-high with a pair of steals. Roemer also made his fifth three-pointer of the season and is first in five games. On Nov. 9 against Northwestern State, he scored a career-high 10 points.