February 9, 2011

Gauchos Host UC Irvine on Thursday, UC Riverside on Saturday

Feb. 9, 2011

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• The Schedule
Thursday, February 10, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Irvine (13-9, 5-5)
at UCSB's Thunderdome (6,000)
Series record vs. the Anteaters - 55-24
Streak - Won 9
Last time out vs. the Anteaters - W, 69-58 @ UCI (1/13/11)
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and on AM 990 KTMS
Live stats available via Gametracker
Live video available through BigWest.TV

Saturday, February 12, 2011, at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Riverside (13-9, 6-3)
at UCSB's Thunderdome (6,000)
Series record vs. the Highlanders - 18-14
Streak - Lost 3
Last time out vs. the Highlanders - L, 81-48 @ UCR (1/15/11)
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and on AM 990 KTMS
Live stats available via Gametracker
Live video available through BigWest.TV

• 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. Josh Suchon is the voice of the Gauchos, performing the play-by-play, while former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford will handle the color commentary. On select road games, much to the chagrin of the listening audience, yours truly, Matt Hurst, will provide color commentary.

The Opponents

• vs. UC Irvine, 2/10 The last time the two teams met, UCI was 3-0 and in first place in the Big West before UCSB dealt the Anteaters their first conference loss. Irvine has dropped four of six since then. UC Irvine is led by Mikah Maly-Karros, who leads the Big West with her 19.5 points per game and is second with her 9.7 rebounds per game. Jade Smith-Williams ranks third in the conference in scoring with her 15.0 points per game. The duo was held to just 16 combined points in the Gauchos' 69-58 win on Jan. 13.

• vs. UC Riverside, 2/12 UCSB's 81-48 loss in the team's Jan. 15 meeting was the Gauchos' largest conference defeat since Jan. 30, 1993. UCR is led by Alyssa Morris, who averages 12.1 points per game, and TreShonti Nottingham, who scores 12.2 points per game. Brittany Waddell also averages 11.2 points per game for the Highlanders.

• Pow! Johnson is the POW
Junior Emilie Johnson totaled 55 points in the Gauchos' two games last week, being named the Big West Player of the Week for the first time this season and the third time in her career. Johnson poured in a career-high 31 points on Thursday, becoming the first Gaucho with at least 30 points since Jessica Wilson had 30 on November 11, 2006 vs. Portland State. Johnson was equally hot in the final 1:10 of Saturday's game as she hit four of her career-high seven three-pointers at UC Davis.

• It's Just a Rebound
Senior Mekia Valentine grabbed 21 rebounds in two games last week, putting her season average at 9.9 boards per game, which leads all Big West players and is 28th in the nation. In seven of her last nine games Valentine has grabbed double-digit rebounds and in Big West games the 6-foot-4 center is averaging a league-leading 12.3 rebounds per contest.

• Tenacious D
As a team, UC Santa Barbara is holding opponents to a 35.0% clip on defense, the best mark in the Big West and 21st-best in the nation. UCSB is also allowing teams to score just 59.0 points per game, which is the lowest in the Big West and 85th in the country. In 11 of the Gauchos' games, the team has held an opponent under 35% from the floor.

• Gottlieb's Legacy: Defense
The above note shouldn't be a shock because UCSB has been among the nation's best in the Lindsay Gottlieb era. In each of the past two seasons, UCSB has led the Big West in opponent's field goal percentage. Last season the squad ranked 31st in the nation with its 36.3% and in 2008-09 UCSB ranked eighth in the country with a 34.6% clip.

• Swat Team
As a team, the Gauchos are averaging 4.82 blocked shots per game, the best mark among Big West schools - UC Riverside is next with 4.41 per game - and 30th in the nation. Last season UCSB finished sixth in the nation with an average of 6.3 swats per game and set a school record with 202 swats. This year's Gaucho squad has blocked 106 shots, leaving them three swats outside of the school's single-season top-10.

• Mekia's Block Party
Mekia Valentine leads the Big West with her 3.68 blocked shots per game and ranks fourth in the nation (St. Mary's Louella Tomlinson leads the country with 5.0 per game). Valentine is second all-time in career blocked shots and became just the second Gaucho to reach 200 career blocked shots. Currently, her 81 blocks this season are second-most in school single-season history. Valentine trails only Lindsay Taylor (2000-04) by 42 swats for the most all-time in school history. Last season the 6-foot-4 center blocked 120 shots, setting a new school record and her average of 4.0 per game ranked third in the country.

• We're a Boarding School
Santa Barbara is averaging 40.8 rebounds per game, which leads the Big West. The Gauchos hold a +4.0 rebounding margin, which also is tops among conference schools and 60th in the nation. It's largely due to Mekia Valentine and Sweets Underwood, who rank first and third, respectively, in the Big West with averages of 9.9 rebounds and 7.1 rebounds per game.

• The Heat Will Rock You
UC Santa Barbara leads the Big West in field goal percentage with a 42.5% clip. What's interesting about that is the Gauchos were at the bottom of the conference earlier this season with a 35.0% overall shooting percentage. UCSB's current field goal percentage ranks the team 54th in the nation.

• So You Know ...
The last time a Gaucho squad led the Big West in both field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense was the 2003-04 squad which hit 46.0% of its shots and limited opponents to a 35.9% shooting clip.

• Countdown to 1,000
Mekia Valentine has scored 227 points this season, giving her 948 in her career between Wake Forest and UCSB. While she will hit 1,000 career points in her collegiate career, she will not be a member of UCSB's 1,000-point club as not all of her buckets came as a Gaucho (she scored 351 points at Wake). The next likely member to join the 22-person 1,000-point club is Emilie Johnson, who has scored 918 total points in her Gaucho career.

• Double Dippers
Valentine's 9.9 rebounds per game give her the chance to become the first Gaucho since Erika Kienast in 1991-92 to average double figures in rebounds. But let's not stop there. Valentine has the chance to become the first UCSB player since Kienast in that season to average a double-double over a season. Valentine is scoring 10.3 points per game, second-most on the team.

• Shooting Star
Emilie Johnson's scoring spree last week pushed her points per game average up over a full point as she went from 11.4 points per game to her current 12.8. She is leading the team in scoring and ranks 11th overall amongst Big West players. Johnson has scored in double figures in three of her last four games and leads the team with 14 double-digit performances this season.

• Oh, Canada
With 13 points on Saturday, Kelsey Adrian reached double figures second time in three games. The junior from Langley, B.C. is third on the team with 9.3 points per game, but she leads the team with her 34.9% clip from three-point range. That mark ranks her eighth in the Big West and her 1.73 treys per game puts her seventh in the conference, three spots behind Emilie Johnson's 1.82 per game.

• Dishing Dimes
UCSB has handed out 53 assists over its past three games (17.67 per game) and leading the charge has been Angelei Aguirre who has tallied 13 of those assists (Emilie Johnson has 12 and Nicole Nesbit has 10 in that stretch). Aguirre is second on the team with 61 assists, behind Johnson's 73. Johnson, meanwhile, ranks fifth in the Big West with her 3.32 assists per game and her 1.43 assist-to-turnover ratio is third in the Big West.

• Tickling the Twine
A season after finishing second in school history with her 57.4% mark from the field, senior Mekia Valentine is at it again. Valentine is shooting at a 60.5% clip this season, which would top Kira Anthofer's school record shooting percentage of 59.6% in 1985-86. Valentine is currently leading the Big West in shooting percentage. In conference games, the Greensboro, N.C. native is shooting 67.1%.

• Sixty is Nifty
When scoring at least 60 points, the Gauchos are 12-3 this season.

The Lindsay Gottlieb File
Lindsay Gottlieb is in her third season as the Gauchos' head coach, and she is just the fourth head coach in UCSB women's basketball history. Last season Gottlieb guided the Gauchos to wins in seven of the squad's last eight games, taking a team that finished 9-7 in the Big West to the conference tournament's semifinals, keeping alive a streak of 20 years that UCSB had finished Big West play with a record above .500. In her first season at the helm, Gottlieb led the team to a 22-10 overall mark (15-1 in the Big West) and the Big West regular-season and tournament championships. Named the Big West Coach of the Year, Gottlieb became the first coach in Gaucho history to win at least 20 games and the Coach of the Year award in her first season - and one of only seven coaches nationwide to do so. Gottlieb led the Gauchos to their 14th consecutive postseason appearance and the team won 20 games for the 12th time in the past 14 years. In her first two seasons with the program, Gottlieb has guided the Gauchos to national prominence, leading the conference in field goal percentage defense both years while having her team set a school record in free throw percentage (08-09) and blocked shots in a season (09-10).. No stranger to success, Gottlieb was formerly the associate head coach at Cal, helping the team to a 68-28 (.708) overall mark in her time there. Prior to that, Gottlieb was an assistant at the University of Richmond, where she helped the Spiders to three straight 20-win seasons.

The Gaucho Fund, launched as part of the Dare to Be Great strategic plan, is UCSB Athletics' annual giving program to provide vital funding support for scholarships, academic success and leadership development for Gaucho student-athletes. The Gaucho Fund is the anchor to the Dare to Be Great campaign.

GKids is the official kids club of UCSB Athletics. Members receive a free GKids t-shirt, free admittance to tons of Gaucho games, opportunities to be ball boys and girls at games, a special birthday greeting from Olie (the GKids mascot) and much, much more! For more information on GKids, or to become a member, please click here.