UCSB Opens Big West Play on Saturday at Cal Poly

UCSB Opens Big West Play on Saturday at Cal Poly

• The Schedule
Saturday, December 31, 2011,  at 4:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Cal Poly (3-9)
at Cal Poly's Mott Gym (3,500)
Series record vs. the Mustangs – 51-16
Streak – Won 1
Last time out vs. the Mustangs – W, 78-64 (@ Cal Poly, 3/5/11)
Game broadcast on AM 990 KTMS and streaming online by clicking here

Saturday, January 7 2012,  at 3:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Fullerton (6-5)
at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Gym (2,500)
Series record vs. the Titans – 46-27
Streak – Won 37
Last time out vs. the Titans – W, 73-70 (@ CSUF, 2/17/11)
Game broadcast on AM 990 KTMS and streaming online by clicking here

• On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live in Santa Barbara on AM 990 KTMS and will stream live online by clicking here with the pregame show starting 30 minutes prior to tipoff.

• The Opponents
• Cal Poly, 12/31

Led by 2009-10 Big West Player of the Year, Kristina Santiago, the Mustangs are just 3-9 this season but have lost their last two games by a single point each. Santiago averages over 24 points per game and scored 33 and 44 points, respectively, in her last two games. Cal Poly, last year's Big West co-champs with UCSB, has lost seven games in a row and is coached by Faith Mimnaugh, in her 14th season.

• Cal State Fullerton, 1/7
UCSB holds one of the nation's longest active winning streaks over Fullerton, having won 37 straight dating all the way back to 1995. Fullerton has won three in a row and is led by All-Big West First Team pick from a season ago, Megan Richardson, who is averaging 17.8 points per game. She is the only Titans player averaging double figures in scoring.

• Conference Openers
Only once in the last 16 seasons has UC Santa Barbara dropped a Big West Conference opener - a 70-57 defeat at UC Riverside on Dec. 28, 2006.

• Under .500? No Problem
At 5-6 overall, UCSB is in familiar territory as it opens conference play. UCSB has had just two seasons – last year and 2003-04 – in which it has opened conference action with a .500 record or better.

• Biggest in the Big West
The Gauchos have dominated the conference for more than a decade. Since the 1995-96 season, UCSB is 226-31 (.883) in Big West games.

• Tenacious D
UC Santa Barbara is continuing its defensive dominance this season, holding opponents to just 49.7 points per game, best in the Big West and ranking the squad among the best in the nation. The Gauchos are also allowing opponents to shoot just 36.6% from the floor, which is the best mark in the conference. UCSB is far and away the best defensive team in the conference, as the next closest Big West team in points allowed is Cal State Fullerton (62.9 points per game, a -13.2 differential). Based on its defense, UCSB also leads the conference in scoring margin (+1.8) and are fourth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.5%).

• Under 50 is Nifty
In seven of the past eight games, UCSB has not allowed its opponents to reach the 50-point plateau, the first time in school history that has happened. The Gauchos are allowing just 46.2 points per game in that stretch. The team stands 4-4 in those games despite allowing just one opponent to make at least 20 field goals in any of those games. In that same eight-game stretch the Gauchos are averaging 50.0 points per game.

• UCSB or UCS-D?
The above notes shouldn't be a surprise because last year UCSB led the conference in field goal percentage defense (18th in the nation) at 35.5%. In 2009-10, UCSB allowed opponents to shoot 36.3%, which was 31st in the nation, and in 2008-09, the Gauchos allowed opponents to hit 34.6% of their shots, ranking eighth in the country.

• How Sweets It Is!
Junior forward Sweets Underwood hit the game-winning basket with 0.4 seconds left in the win over UTEP, her first buzzer-beater in her career.  The Compton, Calif. native is averaging a team-high 9.5 points per game and her 8.1 rebounds per game rank her fifth in the Big West. She  is shooting 47.7% from the floor, which is sixth among conference players.

• Z is First
Sophomore guard Melissa Zornig is averaging 11.8 points per game over the past five games – which leads the team over that stretch. The sophomore guard is averaging 7.8 points per game on the season, ranking her fourth on the team and her 14 3-pointers are second on the team.

• Kelsey - It Rhymes With Three
Senior guard Kelsey Adrian has been doing a lot of her damage from beyond the arc. After going 3-for-6 from downtown in the win over UTEP, Adrian is now shooting 45.0% from three-point range, which leads the team and placer her in first in the Big West. Adrian averages the fifth-most three-pointers made in the conference with 1.64 per game. The Langley, B.C. native is just 10 three-pointers shy of breaking into UCSB's top-10 in career treys after just 41 games as a Gaucho.

• Doubling Up
Sophomore guard Nicole Nesbit has reached double figures in four of her past five games and leads UCSB with six double-digit efforts this season. Nesbit, who is second on the team with her 2.27 assists per game, is second on the team with 9.1 points per game.

• Movin' On Up
With seven more points last week, Emilie Johnson is closing in on a top-20 mark in the school's all-time scoring book. Johnson needs just five more points to surpass Jess Hansen (1999-2003) for 19th place in school history and she is eight away from overtaking Jessica Wilson (2004-08) for 18th all-time. Johnson has 11 20-point games in her UCSB career and her 8.1 points per game is third on the team.

• Board Games
Santa Barbara's two frontcourt stalwarts – Kirsten Tilleman and Sweets Underwood – are two of the best rebounders in relation to their Big West peers. Tilleman ranks third in the conference with 8.5 rebounds per game and Underwood is fifth at 8.1. There has been just one game this season where one of the two didn't grab at least seven rebounds.

• Hang Ten
With Sweets Underwood and Nicole Nesbit as the Gauchos' two leading scorers at 9.5 and 9.1 points per game, respectively, the team does not have a scorer averaging 10.0 or more points per game. Only once in UCSB program history has a team not had at least one player average double digits. That came in 1982-83 when Thyra Ladyman led the way with 9.7 points per game.

• Turning Things Around
In an odd twist, UCSB is averaging 17.0 turnovers in each of its wins and 12.3 in its losses. As a team the Gauchos turn the ball over just 14.45 times per game. It's a far cry from just two seasons ago when the Gauchos committed 649 total turnovers (20.3 per game) in the 2009-10 season, the eighth-highest mark in program history.

• At the Polls
In the preseason media poll, UCSB was picked to finish second in the Big West behind Cal Poly despite receiving the same number of first place votes (11) as the Mustangs. Cal Poly had 200 total points to UCSB's 191 followed by UC Davis (169 points, two first place votes) and UC Riverside (120).

• Probable Starters - Quick Fact
F     1    Sweets Underwood - Her buzzer-beater from 5 feet out gave team win over UTEP
F    2    Kelsey Adrian - Leads team with her 45% from downtown
G    10    Emilie Johnson - Played just 21 minutes in victory over UTEP
G     22    Melissa Zornig - Has scored at least eight points in each of last five games
F/C    32    Kirsten Tilleman - Scored season-high 10 points in loss to New Mexico State

• Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
G     3    Nicole Nesbit - Has scored in double digits in four of the past five games
G    5    Madeline Campbell - 12 minutes in win over LMU was a season-high
F    15    Adaeze Okolie - Injury has kept her sidelined thus far
F    21    Jackie Luna-Castro - 2 minutes at UTEP were most in past four games
G    24  Angelei Aguirre - Left New Mexico State game with injury, DNP vs UTEP
G    33    Destini Mason - Had 4 points, 7 rebounds in 14 minutes vs. UTEP