After Lengthy Layoff, Men's Basketball Returns To Action At UC Riverside

After Lengthy Layoff, Men's Basketball Returns To Action At UC Riverside

Dec. 18, 2001

The Schedule
Game No. 8
Thursday, December 20, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Riverside Highlanders
at UCR's Student Recreation Center

Game No. 9
Saturday, December 22, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cal State Fullerton Titans
at CSUF's Titan Gymnasium

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters Big West play with a 5-2 record. In their last outing, the Gauchos led from wire-to-wire in a 68-51 win over Pepperdine. UCSB is 4-0 at home this season and 1-2 in road games.

Best Start Under Williams
UCSB is off to a 5-2 start to the 2001-02 season, the program's best start since the 1994-95 season when it also opened with a 5-2 record. That year, the Gauchos finished 13-14. In 1992-93, UCSB opened the year with a 6-1 record. That team finished the season with an 18-11 record and was invited to the National Invitation Tournament. The 5-2 start is easily the best seven game start by UCSB during the Bob Williams Era. Previously, the Gauchos have opened at 0-7 (1998), 2-5 (1999) and 2-5 (2000).

Gauchos Play 40 Minutes To Defeat Pepperdine, 68-51
On December 8, UCSB scored the first four points of the game against Pepperdine and never looked back. The Waves trimmed the Gaucho lead to one-point on one occasion, but they could never tie the score or take the lead. The beginning-to-end victory was the first for UCSB this season. Through much of the early portion of the schedule, the Gauchos lived dangerously, getting away with slow first 20 to 25 minutes. In a win over Westmont in the opener, the Gauchos shot poorly (34.3%) and were tied at halftime before turning it on in the second half for a nine-point win. After a pair of solid first halves in road games at USC and USF, UCSB rattled off three poor first halves in a row. In a win over BYU, they fell behind by as many as 12 points in the before a second half rally gave them an impressive 68-58 win. UCSB fell behind by 13 points early in the second half, before coming back to defeat St. Mary's 62-51. On December 5, at Loyola Marymount, the Gauchos hit their first field goal of the game, but then rattled off 12 consecutive misses. Ultimately, they fell behind by 11 points in the first half, 13 points early in the second half, and they never pulled closer than four the rest of the way, losing by a score of 77-70. For more on UCSB's second halves, keep reading.

Second Half Surges
In seven games this season, the Gauchos have outscored their opponent in second half six times. USC was the only opponent to outscore UCSB in the second half. Overall, the Gauchos have outscored their seven opponents by 59 points in the second half, an average of 8.4 per second half. In its five wins, UCSB has outscored its opponents by 65 points, an average of 13.0 points per win.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his fourth season as head coach at UCSB. Last year he guided the Gauchos to a 13-15 overall record and a solid 9-7 mark in Big West play. In his first three-plus seasons, Williams has led the team to a 47-44 record. The 47 victories are the most by any UCSB coach over that period of time. In addition, the 42 wins in the first three campaigns were 12 more than the team had in the three seasons prior to his arrival. Each season under Williams, the Gauchos have progressively gotten better and better, playing their best basketball late in the season. In fact, in three years under his guidance, UCSB has logged a 31-17 record in Big West games, a winning percentage of .646, and among the top three in league over that span. In his first season, Williams guided UCSB to the Big West's Western Division championship, a 15-13 record overall and a 12-4 record in league. He was named Big West Coach of the Year in 1999. Two years ago, they went 14-14 overall, and 10-6 in league. In his career at four-year schools, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 236-143 (.623) record.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has shot 55.6% from the floor in his last three games.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Has made 30 of his last 32 free throws, 93.7%.
G - Mark Hull - He is the only Gaucho to score in double-figures in every game this season.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Has averaged 17.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 assists in last two games.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Has scored nine points in 80 minutes this season.

Probable Reserves - Notes
F - Mike Vukovich - Has made 70.0% of his shots in the last three games.
G - Nick Jones - Scored a season-high 11 points in the win over Pepperdine.
G - B.J. Ward - In his last four game, he has 21 assists and just five turnovers.
F - Casey Cook - Did not play in the last game against Pepperdine.
F - Bray Skultety - Pulled down six rebounds in 12 minutes against Pepperdine.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Has played in three games this season.
G - Chris Newell - Played one minute at USF, his first career action.
F - J.J. Todd - Back in uniform, but still questionable with a bad back.

UCSB Ranked 2nd Nationally In FG% Defense
Through seven games this season, UCSB is limiting its opposition to a meager 34.1% shooting from the field, a figure that ranks second in the nation. The University of Cincinnati, which is holding opponents to a 33.9% field goal percentage, ranks first in the nation. In their last game, a December 8 win over Pepperdine, the Gauchos held the Waves to 27.9% shooting from the field. It was the third time this season that an opponent had shot below the 30.0% mark. In addition to Pepperdine, UCSB held Westmont to 24.5% and the University of San Francisco to 26.4%. Only two opponents have made 40.0% or better from the field. USC hit a season-high 41.5% against the Gauchos. In addition, the Gauchos have allowed opponents to shoot better than 50.0% in just one half of basketball this season. BYU made 14-of-26 shots from the field in the first half of a 68-58 Gaucho win on November 28. The Cougars followed that up with a dismal 23.1% mark in the second half to finish at 38.5% for the game. In 14 halves of basketball, UCSB has limited the opposition to below 30.0% six times. Note the box near the top of this paragraph. In the second half of games, UCSB is tightening the noose even more. Opponents have made just 56 of 185 shots, 30.3%. In fact, only one opponent, USC, made more than eight field goals in any second half.

Pointless Opposition
Any bonehead can figure out that there is a correlation between field goal percentage defense and scoring defense, thus, in addition to being ranked second nationally in field goal percentage defense, UCSB ranks 11th in the nation in scoring defense at 57.3 points per game. The Gauchos have limited five of seven opponents to fewer than 60 points and two opponents, Westmont and USF, to fewer than 50. Two Gaucho opponents have scored more than 70 points. Loyola Marymount's 77 is the most scored by a UCSB opponent this season.

Turning Over A New Leaf
In each of the first three games this season, UCSB produced more turnovers than assists. They had 20 turnovers and just ten assists against Westmont, 17 turnovers and 12 assists at USF, and then 18 turnovers and 13 assists at USC. In three of the last four games, however, they have turned the tables. Against BYU, they turned that around, producing 15 assists and just 11 turnovers, they followed that performance up with an 18 assist, 17 turnover performance against St. Mary's. In a loss at Loyola Marymount they had their best game of the season, passing off for 17 assists and committing only 11 turnovers. In the win over Pepperdine, the Gauchos had season-highs of 21 turnovers and 18 assists. On the year, UCSB now has 12 more turnovers than assists, but after three games this season they had 13 more, so since then they are one to the positive.

Another reason for UCSB's 5-2 start this season has been their performance at the free throw line. As a team, the Gauchos are making 77.2% of their free throws, the best mark in the Big West and the 12th best mark in the nation. Four UCSB players are making better than 80.0% of their charity attempts. B.J. Ward leads the team at 89.5%, Branduinn Fullove, who made 28 in a row at one point, is at 86.1%, Mark Hull is next at 85.2% and Casey Cook, who will probably redshirt the season, has made 5-of-6 and is at 83.3%. Several other Gauchos are above 70.0%.

Playing The Percentages
As long as UCSB is limiting its opposition to 34.1% shooting from the field overall, it should generally be in games. At the other end of the spectrum, the Gauchos are shooting 43.8% as a team, not a figure worthy of a national holiday, but UCSB had its best shooting game of the season in the win over Pepperdine, making 23-of-41, 56.1%. In fact, the Gauchos two best performances this season have come in the last three games. In a December 1 win over St. Mary's, they hit 54.5% from the field. In the first four games this year, UCSB was shooting 40.2%, in the last three games they have shot 48.6%.

The Gauchos On The Road
UC Santa Barbara enters the road games at UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton with a road record of 1-2. After opening the road schedule with a win at USF, the Gauchos have lost games at USC and Loyola Marymount. In his tenure at UCSB, Bob Williams has guided the Gauchos to a 14-10 road record in league games.

The Opponents
UCSB and UC Riverside have played eight times over the years and the Gauchos hold a 7-1 edge. Last season, the teams split a pair of games with each team winning on its own floor. UCR topped UCSB in Riverside by a score of 63-59 and the Gauchos won in Santa Barbara, 59-48. UCSB and Cal State Fullerton have played 48 times with the Gauchos holding a 26-22 advantage. UCSB swept last season's series with the Titans, winning in Fullerton by a 74-71 count and in Santa Barbara by a score of 94-69. The Gauchos have won six consecutive games in the series, all since the arrival of Bob Williams, who is 6-0 against the Titans.

On The Rebound
UCSB was outrebounded in its season-opener against Westmont, but they have not been outrebounded since. Since the Westmont game, the Gauchos have outrebounded five of six opponents and tied one other. In the last six games, they have outrebounded their opponents by a margin of 29, a little more than 4.8 per game. UCSB has outrebounded USF, USC, St. Mary's, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine, and they fought to a rebounding draw against BYU. On the season, UCSB is outrebounding the opposition by 3.8 rebounds per game, 36.7 to 32.9. Senior forward Adama Ndiaye leads the team at 9.4 boards per outing. Mark Hull is second on the team at 5.6 per game. UCSB has four players, Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones in addition to Ndiaye and Hull, who are averaging at least 4.0 rebounds per game.

Hulluva Player
Junior Mark Hull continues to lead UCSB in scoring at 16.9 points per game. He is the only Gaucho to score in double-figures in all seven games. Hull scored a season-high 27 points in a December 5 loss at Loyola Marymount, the second highest scoring effort of his career. In the first three games of the season, he did the bulk of his offensive work in the first half of games. Through three games, he had scored just 13 points in the second halves of games, going for 29 in the first halves. In the win over BYU, it took a major second half effort by Hull to push the Gauchos to victory. Against the Cougars, he scored 23 points, 18 in the second half and 15 in the final nine minutes. Against St. Mary's, he scored a game-high 15, including 11 in the second half. Hull scored 17 of his season-high 27 at LMU in the second half. In UCSB's last game, a December 8 win over Pepperdine, he had 11 points, eight of which came in the second half. In the last four games, Hull has scored 76 points, 56 of which have come in the second halves. Hull struggled offensively for the Gauchos in the opener against Westmont, making just 3-of-11 shots and scoring ten point. In the last six games, however, he has found his stride, averaging 18.0 points per game and making 50.7% of his field goal attempts. Also, since going 1-for-6 from three-point territory in the first game of the year, Hull has made 14-of-30, 46.7%. With his 118 points scored, Hull has now tallied 797 career points. As for the rebounding end of things, he has come up with at least five in five games and he is averaging 5.6 per game overall. In the loss at USC, he had eight boards, one more than he had in any game last season, and a figure that is just one fewer than his career-high. Hull piled up a season-high 38 minutes in the win over St. Mary's. He is averaging 32.4 minutes per game and has played at least 30 in six of seven contests.

Fullove Bounces Back
In UCSB's last game, a home victory over Pepperdine, sophomore Branduinn Fullove made 4-of-9 shots from the field, including 2-of-5 from three-point range, and scored 12 points. While his performance was not spectacular, it was a step in the right direction. In the game prior to Pepperdine, a loss at Loyola Marymount, Fullove was just 2-of-12 from the floor and 2-of-6 from three-point territory. Beginning with UCSB's win over BYU on November 28, Fullove had a three game stretch in which he struggled with his shooting in a big way. In the three games, two wins and a loss, he made just 7-of-33 shots overall, 21.2%, and 2-for-13 from three-point territory, 15.4%. In his first three games this year, Fullove made 16-of-31 shots overall, 51.6%, and 8-of-17 from three-point range, 47.1%. He has scored in double-figures six times in seven games and is now averaging 13.9 points per game. Through the first three games of the year, Fullove was scoring at an 18.3 points per game clip, in his last four games he has averaged just 10.5 per game. With Mark Hull playing just 28 minutes in the last game, Fullove is now the only Gaucho to have played 30 or more in all seven games and he is leading the team at 32.9 minutes per game. He ranks third on the team in rebounding at 5.0 per game, and he has had at least five in four games. Finally, Fullove is shooting 86.1% from the free throw line, and when he missed his first two in the Pepperdine game, he had a streak of 26 consecutive successful free throws snapped. He enters Big West play with a streak of two in a row, having made his last two against the Waves.

Ndiaye Rebounds And Gets Offensive
Senior forward Adama Ndiaye has done an outstanding job of rebounding all season. He leads the Big West Conference at 9.4 rebounds per game and he has been in double-figures in rebounding four times in seven games. Ndiaye, who missed all of last season with a fractured left ring finger, had 14 rebounds in the opener against Westmont, 13 at USC, 13 against Pepperdine and 11 against BYU. From the word go, rebounding was not a problem for Ndiaye. Offense was. Through five games, he had scored a total of 35 points, 7.0 per game, and he was shooting just 38.9%. In those first five games, he scored a high of nine points at USC. In the last two games, Ndiaye has shown signs of offensive life. In the loss at Loyola Marymount, he tallied a season-high 18 points, making 7-of-15 shots from the field, and then against Pepperdine, he had 16 points (7-of-11 from the floor), to go along with his 13 rebounds, giving him his first double-double of the year. Ndiaye is now averaging 9.9 points per game to go along with his 9.4 rebounds per contest. He also leads the Gauchos in blocked shots with 14 and he has blocked at least two in each of the last four games. In addition, Ndiaye is averaging 28.7 minutes per game and he tied his career-high when he played 35 minutes in the win over Pepperdine.

The Nick Of Time
Sophomore guard Nick Jones scored a season-high 11 points in UCSB's win over Pepperdine. It was Jones' second double-figure performance of the year, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Although Jones has taken a while to get on the beam offensively, he has shown marked improvement on the defensive end and on the boards in recent games. Jones has at least one steal in each of the last four games, and in key wins over BYU and Pepperdine, he tied his career-high with three. In 28 games last season he had a total of 17 steals. In seven games this season, he has ten. As far as rebounding goes, Jones was averaging 2.0 per game through the first three games of the campaign, but in the last four games, he has averaged 4.5 and is now pulling down 4.1 per game on the year. Finally, after making just 5-of-16 shots in the first three games, a dismal 31.2%, he has made 13-of-23 in the last four games, 56.5%.

Just Re-Wards
Junior B.J. Ward has emerged in the last four games. After struggling in road games at USC and USF (four turnovers, one assist and no points in 19 combined minutes), he responded with his four best games in a long while. In the win over BYU, he had a season-high nine points, making 2-for-2 from the field, four assists and three steals. In the win over St. Mary's, he had four points, making 2-of-3 from the floor, five assists, and just two turnovers. At Loyola Marymount, Ward tied for the team lead with five assists, and he scored four points and in the victory over Pepperdine, he had six points, three rebounds and he tied a career-high with seven assists. After not playing more than 16 minutes in any of the first three games, Ward has played at least 20 in each of the last four. He leads the Big West in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.17-to-1.0. In his last four games, Ward has had 21 assists and just six turnovers, a 3.5-to-1.0 ratio. Finally, Ward has been on fire from the free throw line, making 17-of-19 through the first seven games, a team-leading 89.5%.

Random Notes
UCSB's nine blocked shots in a loss at Loyola Marymount were the fifth highest total in school history. 4 Walk-on forward Bray Skultety played a career-high 12 minutes in the win over Pepperdine, pulling down six rebounds and scoring the first two points of his career. 4 Sophomore guard Jacoby Atako has played 25 or more minutes in five of seven games. 4 Sophomore forward Bryan Whitehead has taken just 11 shots in 80 minutes this season. In fact, Whitehead has 13 rebounds and only nine points on the year. 4 UCSB has had more assists than its opponent in six of seven games this season. 4 Gaucho opponents have made 20.0% or less of their three-point attempts in four of seven games this season. 4 Three different players have led the Gauchos in scoring this season. 4 Adama Ndiaye has paced UCSB in rebounds in five of seven games. 4 Since shooting 25.0% in the first two games, Mike Vukovich has hit 10-of-17 field goals, 58.8%.

On The Horizon
Following the Big West games at UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton, the Gauchos will travel to The Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara on December 28 and 29. UCSB will take on Detroit Mercy in the first round of the tournament, with the winner to meet either Santa Clara or Maryland-Baltimore County.