December 20, 2007

Gauchos Roll Into North Carolina to Tangle With No. 1 Tar Heels Saturday

Dec. 20, 2007

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The Schedule
Game No. 12
Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at the University of North Carolina Tar Heels
at UNC's Dean Smith Center
TV: Fox Sports South Radio: KTMS 990/1490-AM Internet: tarheelblue.com

Game No. 13
Saturday, December 29, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Eastern Washington Eagles
at Eastern Washington's Reese Court
Radio: KTMS 990/1490-AM

UCSB Plays Top-Ranked Team For First Time Since 1990
UC Santa Barbara will play top-ranked North Carolina on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C. The game will mark the first time a Gaucho team has played the No. 1 team in the nation since February 26, 1990, when they defeated UNLV in Santa Barbara, 78-70. The Runnin' Rebels went on to win the 1990 NCAA Championship and did not lose again until the NCAA Semifinals in 1991. On Dec. 21, 1983, UCSB hosted Hakeem Olajuwon and the University of Houston in another game against a top-ranked opponent. Finally, the Gauchos used to routinely play UCLA during its run of 10 NCAA Championships. Saturday's game will tip-off at 1:00 p.m. in Chapel Hill, or 10:00 a.m. in Santa Barbara. The game, which will be aired on KTMS 990/1490-AM, will go head-to-head with Car Talk on NPR, a first in my memory. Feel free to listen to the Gauchos and download the Podcast of Click and Clack.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters Saturday's game at North Carolina with a 10-1 record. 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 nationally-ranked Stanford. Since then, UCSB has put together an eight-game winning streak. Six of the wins (Cal Poly Pomona, San Francisco, Montana State, UNLV, Pepperdine and Utah Valley) during the streak have come at home, and two (Loyola Marymount and Ball State) came on the road.

Gauchos Off To Their Best Start In 19 Seasons, Second Best Ever
UCSB's 10-1 start is the program's best in 19 years and the second best in program history. The last time the Gauchos had a better record through 11 games was in 1988-89 when they went 11-0 to open the year. That team lost for the first time in game 12, going 11-1, and then won four more games consecutively, improving to 15-1, the best start in school history.

Streaking
UCSB will take an eight-game winning streak into its game at North Carolina. The Gauchos had three four-game winning streaks in 2006-07, but could never get beyond that. The current eight-game winning streak is the longest that a Bob Williams-coached UCSB team has had. The last time Santa Barbara won as many as eight games in a row was in 1988-89 when they opened the season with 11 straight victories.

Harris Named Big West Player Of The Week For Second Time
Senior guard Alex Harris was named Big West Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks after leading UCSB to wins over Pepperdine and Utah Valley. Harris averaged 23.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game in the two victories. Most impressively, he made 10-of-13 shots from three-point territory, 76.9%. In the win over Pepperdine, Harris scored 22 points, grabbed three rebounds, and added a pair of steals. In that game he made 4-of-5 three-point attempts. Against Utah Valley, he had 25 points and made a career-high six three-pointers, in eight attempts. The award was the second in three weeks for Harris and the fourth of his career. A Gaucho won or shared Big West Player of the Week honors three straight weeks before this week. UCSB did not play last week and thus had no nominee.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Justin Joyner - Has 23 assists and six turnovers in the last four games.
G - Alex Harris - Made 13-of-16 three-point attempts in last three games, 81.2%.
G - James Powell - Has scored in double-figures in six of the last eight games.
F - Chris Devine - Made 9-of-10 shots and had season-high 22 points at Ball State.
F - Ivan Elliott - Made 11-of-16 shots, 68.7%, in the last three games.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Nick Quick - Made his second three-pointer of the season at Ball State.
G - Jordan Weiner - Hit 4-of-5 from three-point range and had 12 points at Ball State.
G - Paul Roemer - Has played 10 or more minutes in 10 of 11 games this season.
G - D.J. Posley - Tied his season-high with four rebounds at Ball State.
G - George Murphy - Has yet to play in a game and did not make the trip.
F - Nedim Pajevic - Has averaged 5.5 rebounds in the last two games.
F - Sam Phippen - Recorded personal-highs of three points and four rebounds at LMU.
F - Beau Gibb - Has played 93 minutes this season after playing 72 in 2006-07.
F - Peter Jordan - Walk-on freshman has played in two games this season.
F - Spencer Ford - Freshman 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 150-123 (.549) 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 339-223 (.603) at four-year schools.

Gauchos Continue Hot Shooting, Defeat Ball State
Chris Devine and Alex Harris scored 22 points apiece, and UC Santa Barbara made 12 out of 17 three-point field goal attempts, as the Gauchos won their eighth consecutive game, 79-52 at Ball State on Wednesday night. UCSB jumped out to an early 24-7 lead and never looked back. Ball State could never get closer than 10 the rest of the way. Forward Ivan Elliott hit a pair of three-point baskets and Devine scored eight points as the Gauchos jumped to their commanding early lead. Santa Barbara led 35-20 at the half and then outscored the Cardinals 12-4 to open the second half to go ahead 47-24. The lead slipped to as low as 17 midway through the half, but never below that. For the third straight game, UCSB was on fire from three-point range as it hit 12-of-19. In the last three games, the Gauchos have hit 33-of-52 from beyond the arc, 63.5%. Reserve guard Jordan Weiner led the three-point attack by making 4-of-5 in just eight minutes, finishing with a career-high 12 points. Harris hit all three of his attempts and Elliott was 2-for-3. While he did not make a three-point basket, Devine had his best offensive game of the year, making 9-of-10 shots and finishing with a season-high 22 points. Elliott added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Gauchos. Guard Justin Joyner was scoreless for UCSB, but he had a game-high six assists and no turnovers. Ball State was led by guard Peyton Stovall who had 18 points on 7-of-11 from the field overall and 3-for-4 from three-point range. UCSB forced 20 turnovers by the Cardinals, the seventh opponent to have 20 or more in a game this season.

UCSB Now No. 6 In Mid-Major Poll
After opening the 2007-08 season ranked 20th in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Poll, the Gauchos dropped to 23rd in the second poll, jumped to 22nd in the third poll, to 18th in the fourth, to 14th in the fifth poll, to seventh last week, and to an all-time high sixth this week.

The Gauchos And Tar Heels
UCSB and North Carolina last played when they met for the National Championship in 2005. Oh wait, that was UNC and Illinois. Actually, I think I used the same line in game notes a couple of years ago. Either way, the Tar Heels and Gauchos have played once, on Nov. 25, 2005. UNC defeated UCSB in that game, 83-66.

The Gauchos On The Road
The Gauchos are 2-1 in true road games this season. On Wednesday night, they won their second consecutive road game, a decisive 79-52 decision at Ball State. On 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) in the Basketball Travelers Classic, also at Stanford. In 2006-07, the Gauchos recorded an all-time best 10-4 record on the road. Dating to the 2005-06 season, UCSB has gone 16-6 in its last 22 true road games.

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

Three-Point Stance
UCSB has really started to heat-up from three-point territory. Through 11 games, the Gauchos are averaging 8.1 three-pointers per game and are making 45.4%. Recently, however, those numbers are even better. In the last three games, wins over Ball State, Pepperdine and Utah Valley, UCSB hit 33 out of 50 three-point attempts, 66.0%. In the last five games, the Gauchos have drained 49-of-88, 55.7%. Four times in the last five games, they have made at least 50.0% of their three-point attempts. Through three games this season, Santa Barbara had made 15-of-47 shots from outside the three-point arc, 31.9%, but during the eight-game winning streak, the team has hit 74-of-149, 49.7%. Finally, UCSB has been particularly good on its three-point attempts at home, averaging 9.7 per game, making 50.0% or better in four of the six games and nailing 58-of-118 overall, 49.2%.

Turning Over A New Leaf
Probably the most significant statistical turnaround for UCSB this season has been the number of turnovers that it is forcing. In recent years, Gaucho teams have played good defense but they have not forced many turnovers. In other words, the solid defense has not led directly to offense. This year UCSB is forcing a significant number of turnovers. Through 11 games, the Gauchos are forcing 20.6 turnovers per game, an increase of 7.2 per game over the 13.4 per game they forced in 2006-07. Last year, the highest number of turnovers forced by Santa Barbara was 21, in a double-overtime win at Pepperdine. In 2007-08, UCSB has forced 21 or more turnovers six times and 20 or more seven times. No Gaucho opponent has had fewer than 16 miscues in a game. The highest total by an opponent this season was the 28 committed on Nov. 9 by Northwestern State. On Dec. 5, Pepperdine had 25 turnovers and on Nov. 15, Cal Poly Pomona had 24. On the other side of the court, the Gauchos are averaging 16.2 turnovers per outing, up from 13.9 per game last season. They had a high of 23 in a Nov. 20 win over San Francisco.

Playing The Margins
Of UCSB's 11 games this season, eight have been decided by double-figures and three by fewer than 10. The Gauchos are outscoring opponents by 11.5 points per game and the only single-digit margins came in wins over UNLV (3 points), San Francisco (5 points) and Loyola Marymount (7 points). The largest margin of the season came on Wednesday night when Santa Barbara defeated Ball State by 27 points, 79-52. Previously, the largest margin was a 92-71 win over Northwestern State on Nov. 9.

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 six have done so in blocked shots.

The Defense Never Rests
The Gauchos are allowing just 61.0 points per game, a drop of more than six 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 four times, including three of the last four games. On Wednesday night, Ball State scored 52 points, the low by an opponent this season. In the last six games, opponents have averaged 57.8 points per game and during the eight-game winning streak they are at 59.0 points per game.

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 seven times, going 7-0 in those games. UCSB has actually scored 74 or more seven times this season, including five times in the first six games and each of the last two. The Gauchos are averaging 72.5 points per game, slightly more than 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
UCSB is averaging 8.8 steals per game, an increase of 2.6 per game over last season's average of 6.2. Santa Barbara has seven players with at least 10 steals this season after only having six last year. At the current pace, the Gauchos would finish the year with more than 260 steals, a new school record.

The Harris Poll
Senior guard Alex Harris scored 22 points, had four rebounds and three assists on Wednesday night at Ball State. Harris made 3-of-3 shots from three-point range and has now made 13-of-16 in the last three games, 81.2%. Last week, Harris was named Big West Player of the Week for the second time this season and the fourth time in his career after leading UCSB to home wins over Pepperdine and Utah Valley. Harris averaged 23.5 points per game in the two games, but most impressively, he made 10-of-13 shots from thee-point range, 76.9%. Harris has jumped back into the scoring lead in the Big West Conference at 23.4 points per game. His 22 points in the game at Ball State gives him 1,303 career points, eighth on the school's all-time list. He needs 49 points to move into the number seven slot. This season, the Alameda, Calif., native has led or tied for the Gauchos lead in scoring in all 10 of his appearances. He missed one game (Nov. 15 vs. Cal Poly Pomona) with a thumb injury, but he has scored at least 18 points in every other game. Harris will enter Saturday's game at North Carolina having scored 21 or more points in four straight games, six of his last seven, and eight of 10 this season. He went for a season-high 29 points on Nov. 24 against Montana State, making career-highs of 15 out of 18 free throws in the game, all in the second half. Since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, Harris has scored 845 points in 39 games, an average of 21.7 points per game. He has developed into one of the best three-point shooters in school history. By making 13 out of 16 in three games, he is now shooting 52.8% (28-of-53) on the season. In the Dec. 7 win over Utah Valley, Harris made six three-pointers, a career-high. Since opening the year by making 4-of-14 (28.6%) in his first three games, he has hit 24-of-39, 61.5%, in his last seven games. Harris has now made 148 three-pointers in 361 career attempts, 41.0%, the fourth highest percentage in school history. While he is averaging 4.0 rebounds per game, fourth on the team, he has totaled just 11 rebounds in the last four games, 2.7 per game. He had a season-high eight rebounds on Nov. 24 against Montana State, and he has had seven twice, on Nov. 27 against UNLV and Nov. 10 against Harvard. Harris was a Preseason All-Big West and Mid-Major All-America selection.

The Devine File
Junior forward Chris Devine made 9-of-10 shots from the field and scored a season-high 22 points in Wednesday's win at Ball State. Devine is second on the team in scoring at 13.8 points per game and he leads the team in rebounding at 5.3 per game. Devine has now scored in double-figures in all 10 games in which he has played this season, going for 13 or more seven times. His season-high prior to Wednesday was 18 on Nov. 20 against San Francisco, but he then missed the Nov. 24 game against Montana State to attend the funeral of a close friend. In the first four games after his one-game absence, Devine scored 45 points, 11.2 per game. Also, in the four games prior to his 9-for-10 performance against Ball State, he made just 15 out of 38 shots, 39.5%. Devine is now shooting 52.7%, second on the team among regulars. His rebounding has also been on the upswing. Devine is averaging a team-leading 5.3 rebounds per game, but since collecting a total of just three in the first two games of the season, he has averaged 6.2 per game. In the last five games, he has gathered 35 rebounds, 7.0 per game, and he has had at least seven in four of the last five games. Devine had a season-high nine boards on Dec. 1 against Loyola Marymount. In addition to increased rebounds, he had a season-high four assists against Utah Valley on Dec. 7 and is now averaging 1.5 per game. Devine has two or more assists in four of the last six games. A Presesaon All-Big West selection, he also has eight steals in the last four games, including three on Dec. 5 against Pepperdine, equaling his season-high. Finally, Devine is now averaging 27.4 minutes per game, but in the last six 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 six games, he has played 186 total minutes, 31.0 per game, including a high of 34 on Nov. 27 against UNLV.

Old Buddy, Old Powell
Sophomore guard James Powell could muster just 17 total points in his first three games this season, 5.7 per outing. In those first three, he hit just 7-of-25 shots overall, 28.0%, 2-for-9 from three-point range, 22.2%, and 1-for-3 from the free throw line, 33.3%. In the eight games since then, all wins, Powell has become one of the Gauchos' primary offensive threats. The Pomona, Calif., native has scored in double-figures six time during the eight game stretch, including a career-high 24 on Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona. He has averaged 12.5 points per game in the last eight, making 34-of-75 shots overall, 45.3%, 19-for-41 from three-point range, 46.3%, and 13-of-17 from the free throw line, 76.5%. Powell is now averaging 10.6 points per game overall, third on the team, and is second on the team in three-point baskets with 21. He has made at least one three-pointer in each of the last eight games, two or more six times. Powell made a career-high five three-point buckets, all in the second half, in UCSB's 63-60 win over UNLV on Nov. 27. In fact, it was his three-pointer with less than half a second remaining that decided the game. He was named Big West Player of the Week for the effort. Powell is also averaging 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He has averaged 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in the last five games. Finally, he has had six of his 10 steals in the last five as well.

Justin Joins In
Sophomore point guard Justin Joyner has had his three highest assist totals of the year in the last three games. On Dec. 5, in a win over Pepperdine, Joyner had six assists in 26 minutes. On Dec. 7, against Utah Valley, he went one better with a season-high seven assists, and then on Wednesday at Ball State, he had six more. On the season, he is now averaging 4.3 assists per game, a figure which is at its highest point, and he has had four or more assists in five straight and eight times in 11 games. In the last five games, Joyner has averaged 5.4 assists per outing. In addition to distributing the ball well, the Antioch, Calif., native not only leads the Gauchos, but also the Big West, in assist-to-turnover ratio. He has 47 assists and just 22 turnovers, a ratio of 2.13-to-1.0. In the last six games, Joyner has contributed 29 assists and just nine turnovers, a 3.22-to-1.0 ratio. In the Dec. 7 win over Utah Valley, he also had eight points and a pair of steals. The eight points were one below his season-high of nine, which he had on Nov. 10 against Harvard. Joyner also had eight points on Nov. 27 against UNLV. He is now averaging 3.4 points per game, but 25 of his 37 points came in his three highest scoring games. As a freshman, Joyner led the UCSB in steals with 36, an average of 1.3 per game, and after a slow start this season, he has started to pick-up the pace in that category as well. Through five games, Joyner had three steals, but he has now had at least one steal in five out of six games and he totaled five in the last three games, including a season-high three on Dec. 5 against Pepperdine. Last year, Joyner had three steals five times.

Ivan The Good
Senior forward Ivan Elliott continues to be one of UCSB's most efficient players. In the win over Ball State, Elliott made 4-of-6 shots overall, including 2-for-3 from three-point range, and finished with 10 points. He also had seven rebounds in his 18 minutes. On Dec. 7 against Utah Valley, Elliott played 23 minutes, finishing with 11 points and seven rebounds. He made 4-of-5 shots, including his only three-point attempt, and both of his free throws. Overall, he is now averaging 8.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and a team-high 1.2 blocked shots per game. Elliott has scored 10 or more points five times this season, including four times in the last six games. He went for a career-high 17 points in the season opener against Northwestern State and then went four games without scoring in double-figures before the current four times in six games run. Elliott is shooting 53.3% overall, but he is at 54.5% from outside the three-point arc, a figure that ranks second in the Big West. He has made 12 three-pointers this season, more than twice the total he made in 2006-07. Also, after a four-game stretch in which he made just 11 out of 30 field goal attempts, 36.7%, Elliott has made 18-of-29 in the last five, 62.1%, and 11-of-15 in the last two, 73.3%. He now ranks second on the team in rebounding at 5.4 per game, and he tied his season-high with seven in each of the last two games. Elliott has had five or more boards eight times in 11 games.

A Piece Of The Pajevic (Pronounced Pie-uh-vich)
Although he had his worst shooting game of the season on Wednesday at Ball State, Nedim Pajevic did have another solid effort on the boards. Pajevic missed all six of his field goal attempts, including a three-pointer, and was scoreless. He did, however have five rebounds, one assist, one blocked shot and a steal. The native of Sarajevo, Bosnia, is now averaging 4.5 rebounds per game and he has averaged 5.5 per game in the last two. Pajevic's scoring average is now 6.5 per game, fifth on the team, but it has dropped from a season-high 10.2 points per game after the seson's first six games. In the last five games, he has just 11 total points, 2.2 per game. In fact, he has more rebounds (15) and just one fewer assist (10) in those five games. Pajevic is second on the team in assists with 24, an average of 2.2 per game. He has two or more assists seven times in 11 games, including six times in the last eight. Pajevic had a personal-high five assists on Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona. Finally, he has the team's only double-double this season with 10 points and 10 rebounds on Nov. 20 against San Francisco.

Strike A Posley
Junior guard D.J. Posley has started to emerge as a major contributor for UCSB. While his numbers don't jump out at you, he has progressively gotten better and better through the first 11 games. Posley is averaging 2.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 0.8 assists per game. He has had three of his four highest scoring games in the last three games, going for a season-high seven on Dec. 5 against Pepperdine and five on in the Wednesday game at Ball State and on Dec. 7 against Utah Valley. Posley began the season by missing his first 10 field goal attempts, but he has made 13-of-25 since, 52.0%, improving to 37.1% overall. He also made his last three three-point attempts, going 1-for-1 in each of the last three games. Posley has been a nice fit for the new style of defense that the Gauchos have played this year. He leads the team in steals with 16 and he has had at least one in nine straight games. He had a high of three steals twice, against Pepperdine and Northwestern State. Against Ball State, Posley tied his season-high with four rebounds, the same total he had on Nov. 9 against Northwestern State.

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 logged 170 minutes, an average of 15.5 per game. He has played at least eight minutes in every game and 15 or more in seven of 11 games. On Wednesday night at Ball State, Roemer was hit in the mouth in a collision with a Cardinal player. He fell to the floor, bloodied, but did not suffer a concussion and will be available for the game against North Carolina. Roemer is averaging 2.5 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He also has 10 steals and has had at least one in four straight games. He tallied a season and career-high 10 points in the opener against Northwestern State and he had eight on Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona. Of his 27 points, 26 came in four games (Northwestern State, Cal Poly Pomona, Pepperdine, Utah Valley).