Wednesday, February 26, 2020

UCSB vs. UCR Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

UCSB at UC Riverside
Thursday, February 27, 2020, 7 pm PST, ESPN3
Quick Bites
UCSB took care of business last week, going 2-0...capped by getting revenge on an under-sized but physical UC Davis squad. When the dust had settled, the Gauchos had scrambled up to 2nd place in the conference and was the only team remaining that had any chance to catch UC Irvine. While that is unlikely (UCI's magic number is 1 to grab the #1 seed), UCSB will most likely secure the #2 seed by going 3-1 down the stretch (for sure if CSUN doesn't win out). UC Riverside's once-promising season has devolved into a familiar story...fighting to not be the one team left out of the Big West Tournament. The Highlanders took a big step toward a berth by completing a season sweep of 9th-place Cal Poly, holding the Mustangs to 28.8% shooting. Riverside has made a league-best 236 threes. UC Riverside ranks No. 11 nationally in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 61.0 points per game, and ranks 5th in the nation in steals.

By the Numbers

UC Santa Barbara UC Riverside
Record 18-9 15-14
Away/Home/Neutral (D1) 7-6 (A) 7-4 (H)
Big West Conference 7-5 5-8
Record vs. Quadrant vs. Q3: 2-3 vs. Q4: 9-6
Composite (NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag) 165 233
DCI 144 254
DC2 155 218
RPI 189 288
NET 171 216
SOS (NET) 328 350
KPom Offensive Efficiency 70 286
KPom Defensive Efficiency 259 135
KPom Tempo 335 345
Points per game (overall/BWC) 72.1 (148th) / 69.3 (6th) 65.0 (318th) / 64.1 (9th)
FG% (overall/BWC) 47.0% (30th) / 46.4% (4th) 43.7% (181st) / 43.5% (6th)
2-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 54.0% (33rd) / 52.9% (1st) 49.8% (183rd) / 48.5% (5th)
3-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 34.1% (142nd) / 35.1% (7th) 35.4% (72nd) / 36.2% (5th)
FT% (overall/BWC) 75.8% (34th) / 76.4% (2nd) 69.3% (229th) / 71.2% (5th)
Points allowed per game (overall/BWC) 66.9 (110th) / 65.8 (3rd) 61.0 (11th) / 63.1 (2nd)
FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 45.2% (293rd) / 46.3% (8th) 40.9% (72nd) / 43.0% (2nd)
2-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 50.3% (232nd) / 51.5% (8th) 43.7% (20th) / 44.1% (2nd)
3-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 35.7% (309th) / 35.6% (3rd) 35.0% (287th) / 40.4% (9th)
Off. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 10.1 (188th) / 8.8 (4th) 8.9 (229th) / 8.2 (4th)
Def. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 21.4 (6th) / 21.7 (1st) 23.1 (118th) / 23.5 (3rd)
Off. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 7.9 (19th) / 7.8 (2nd) 7.2 (16th) / 7.2 (2nd)
Def. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 24.1 (296th) / 22.5 (9th) 27.2 (26th) / 26.2 (2nd)
Rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 34.2 (260th) / 31.3 (9th) 36.1 (79th) / 34.3 (2nd)
Rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 29.2 (4th) / 29.4 (1st) 30.3 (48th) / 30.7 (3rd)
Assists per game (overall/BWC) 11.5 (74th) / 11.5 (3rd) 10.7 (74th) / 11.0 (4th)
Steals per game (overall/BWC) 4.4 (5th) / 3.7 (1st) 5.6 (113th) / 5.2 (5th)
Blocks per game (overall/BWC) 2.3 (11th) / 2.0 (2nd) 2.8 (104th) / 3.0 (6th)
Best wins (NET, Quadrant) @ UT Arlington (129, Q2)
UC Irvine (105, Q3)
@ Louisiana (235, Q3)
@ Fresno State (162, Q3)
@ Nebraska (186, Q3)
@ UC Davis (205, Q3)
Worst losses (NET, Quadrant) Long Beach St (290, Q4)
CSUN (249, Q4)
@ CSUN (249, Q4)
Rice (218, Q4)
@ Long Beach St (290, Q4)
@ CS Fullerton (264, Q4)
@ CSUN (249, Q4)
CSUN (249, Q4)
Northern Arizona (215, Q4)
Hawai'i (211, Q4)
Trend won 2 straight, 5 of 6 Sat win ended 5-game skid

UCSB - UC Riverside History
UCSB and UC Riverside have played 46 times in a series that began in 1955. The Gauchos hold an all-time edge of 46-10, including a 65-63 win on Jan. 25 when Max Heidegger made a three-pointer with 2.8 seconds to play. The teams split a pair of games last season with the Highlanders winning 71-57 in Riverside..

Head Coach
David Patrick became the Head Men's Basketball Coach at UC Riverside in March of 2018 following successful assistant coaching stints at TCU and LSU. He enters his second season following an inaugural campaign (2018-19) which saw the Highlanders break several program records including 279 three-point shots culminating in a .379 three-point shooting percentage which was the best in the Big West Conference and top 30 (28th) in the nation.

Patrick, born in Bermuda and raised in Melbourne, Australia native, is credited with recruiting Ben Simmons (who would go on to become the number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft) to LSU. He also coached NBA champions and Australian National Team guards Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova during their collegiate careers at Saint Mary's.

He played one season at Syracuse, with his team reaching the 1996 NCAA Championship game, and then was a point guard at Louisiana-Lafayette from 1997-2000. He also played four years professionally in Australia, England and Spain and spent one year on the staff at Nicholls State.

Probable Starters
  • Arinze Chidom (1) JR, F, 6-9, 240, Oakland, CA, Bishop O'Dowd HS, 10.9 Pts, 6.6 Reb, 1.4 Ast -- became eligible in December after leaving the Washington State team a year prior. Excellent 3-point shooter (.444, 3.2 attempts per game). Has been piling up fouls, fouling out twice in last 3 games and averaging 4.4 per game over last 5. Has recently been called for 3 charges in a single game twice, explaining why he is averaging 4.7 turnovers per game over last 3 games. Topped double digits in rebounds 4 times this season (high of 11). Has 4 double-doubles. Had 13 points and 6 rebounds at UCSB, but also had 5 turnovers.
  • Khyber Kabellis (13) SR, G, 6-4, 185, Escondido, CA, Escondido HS, 6.0 Pts, 3.3 Reb, 3.2 Ast -- played two years at North Dakota State and one year at Pacific before graduate-transferring to UCR. Was mired in a 3-point shooting slump earlier in the season, but is 8-of-22 from 3 in February (.364). Ranks 8th in conference in assists, and assist/turnover ratio ranks 4th (2.14). Scored 9 points and handed out 2 assists at UCSB.
  • Callum McRae (25) SO, C, 7-1, 275, Palmerston North, New Zealand, Palmerston North Boys HS, 9.4 Pts, 6.1 Reb, 1.4 Ast -- one of only six 7-footers in the conference. Topped double digits in rebounds 4 times this season (high of 11). Has 3 double-doubles this year and 7 in his career. Ranks 4th in conference in rebounding, 2nd in FG% (.529) behind Sow and 4th in blocked shots (1.03 per game). Player of week Nov. 25 after making 15-of-17 shots vs. Redlands and Denver. Had just 6 points and 2 rebounds in only 16 minutes at UCSB.
  • Dominick Pickett (22) JR, G, 6-3, 210, Moreno Valley, CA, Rancho Verde HS, 8.0 Pts, 2.7 Reb, 1.5 Ast -- Ranks 2nd in conference in 3-point shooting % (.474, 3.3 attempts per game). Held to 6 points (2-of-5 from 3), no rebounds and no assists at UCSB. Played just 20 minutes at Cal Poly, scoring 5 points.
  • George Willborn III (35) JR, G, 6-3, 195, Chicago, IL, De La Salle Institute, 6.9 Pts, 4.6 Reb, 0.9 Ast -- transfer from UTSA. Was out with a shoulder injury the last time UCR played UCSB. Has 2 double-doubles. Player of week Nov. 11 after scoring 13 points and grabbing 18 rebounds at Nebraska. Has just 16 rebounds in last 7 games (126 minutes). Starter for 1st time since Jan. 18 last Saturday at Cal Poly, playing 31 minutes and scoring a season-high 17 points...including 3-of-5 from 3-point line.

  • Dikymbe Martin (15) SR, G, 6-1, 170, Riverside, CA, John W. North HS, 7.6 Pts, 1.5 Reb, 1.3 Ast -- has a history of suspensions and missed four games at the start of this season. Started 8 straight games, but team went 2-6 and his playing time has 4 of last 5 games he has failed to log 20 minutes. Still a dangerous 3-point shooter (.373, 4.4 attempts per game), ranking 9th in conference in 3FG's made. Averaging just 5.8 ppg in last 6 games. 3rd in career points (1269) among active players (Heidegger is 2nd at 1303), 6th in career assists (264) and 4th in career steals (110). Named to preseason all-league team.
  • Angus McWilliam (23) SO, F, 6-10, 240, Christchurch, New Zealand, Middleton Grange HS, 6.6 Pts, 4.5 Reb, 0.2 Ast -- ranks 6th in conference in offensive rebounds (1.82 per game). Averages 18 minutes per game. Scored 7 points with 4 rebounds in 24 minutes at UCSB. Averages 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes. Has hit just 8 of last 23 shots from inside perimeter. Played a season-low 9 minutes at Cal Poly.
  • Dragon Elkaz (0) SO, G, 6-5, 205, Green Valley, Australia, Westfield Sports HS, 5.0 Pts, 1.3 Reb, 0.4 Ast -- Played just 9.3 minutes per game in last 3 games. Averaging 2.5 ppg in last 8. Scored 3 points (1-of-2 from 3) in 14 minutes at UCSB. Takes an astounding 92% of his shots from three (.373, 3.9 attempts per game). Started 22 games in 2018-19.
  • Zyon Pullin (5) FR, G, 6-4, 195, Pleasant Hill, CA, College Park HS, 4.4 Pts, 2.1 Reb, 1.9 Ast --  made a 3, a 2 and a FT (all with no misses) at UCSB. Has been getting more minutes recently (16.5 minutes per game in last 2). Gets to the FT line (.339 FT's per FG attempt), but percentage has dropped in conference play (.216).
  • DJ McDonald (3) SO, G, 5-11, 175, Sylmar, CA, Bishop Alemany HS, 4.5 Pts, 0.6 Reb, 0.7 Ast -- was held scoreless in 6 minutes at UCSB. Missed 3 straight games before playing in both games last week. Can hit the three (.373, 8.4 attempts per 40 minutes). 89% of shot attempts are from distance. Averaging 3.0 ppg in conference.
  • Zac Watson (11) SO, F, 6-7, 210, Plano, TX, Liberty HS, 2.8 Pts, 3.0 Reb, 0.8 Ast -- did not play at UCSB, and has played in just two games in February (7 minutes total). Makes 62% of two-point shots, but has not attempted a shot since Jan. 23. Had 12 rebounds in just 19 minutes at Nebraska.
  • Daniel Mading (4) SO, F, Perth, Australia, San Jacinto CC, 6-9, 200, 2.5 Pts, 2.1 Reb, 0.4 Ast -- scoreless in 8 minutes at UCSB. Has played in just 3 games since (14 total minutes). Takes 74% of shots from 3 (.235).
  • Jaylen Cross (24) FR, G, 6-4, 185, Melbourne, Australia, Culver City HS, 0.8 Pts, 0.5 Reb, 0.3 Ast -- only 4 appearances, none since Jan. 23.
Match-up overview
UC Riverside is the hard-luck team of the conference. The Highlanders are just 1-5 in games decided by 5 points or less. In UC Riverside's now-ended 5-game conference losing streak, 4 of the games were decided by 4 points or less. The Highlanders played well in their visit to the Thunderdome, shooting .532 from the field and tying the rebound battle 24-24. Max Heidegger bailed out the Gauchos with a 3-pointer with under 3 seconds left. Shall we relive it?

That was UCSB's only win in a 5-game stretch in which teams shot a combined .525 vs. the Gauchos. Since then, only one team has shot better than .459 in 6 games (Davis shot .560 at Davis) and the team has gone 5-1. The Gauchos are going to go as far as their defense will take them. UCSB needs two victories this week to hit the 20-win mark for the third consecutive season. It would mark three straight 20-win seasons for just the second time in program history (1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90).

Riverside is a poor man's UC Irvine...the big men are of the size of Irvine's bigs if not as talented, while UCR can probably shoot it better from outside. They like to play inside-out, rebound it well and keep the pace low. They were tough in the Thunderdome, and Riverside has been a house of horrors over the years for the Gauchos. UC Riverside is 5-3 in its last 8 games vs. UCSB at UCR Student Recreation Center, quite possibly the ugliest gym in college basketball.

Teams continue to try and take away Amadou Sow (14.6 Pts, 7.2 Reb, 0.7 Ast) as an option. After averaging 14 FG attempts per game in wins over Long Beach, Hawai'i and Irvine, he has averaged 8.3 FG attempts per game in the last 3 contests. UCSB guards still don't take an optimal angle to get him the ball in an attacking position. Still, he is 15-of-25 from the field in the last 3 (.600), and has averaged 3 blocks per game during that span.

Max Heidegger (16.9 Pts, 2.5 Reb, 3.3 Ast) earned Big West Men’s Basketball Player of the Week accolades for the second time in his career as the senior averaged 22.0 points in a pair of conference wins. The 6-foot-3 guard collected game-high point totals of 27 against Cal State Fullerton and 17 vs. UC Davis. Heidegger also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 41.7% (5-of-12) from distance. In UCSB’s 70-56 win over UC Davis, Heidegger hit two triples en route to his 17-point night – both three-point baskets came in the final five minutes of the game after the Aggies took a late one-point lead. He added four assists in the win. In 72 minutes of playing time over the two games, Heidegger had nine assists against just one turnover.

JaQuori McLaughlin (13.3 Pts, 3.3 Reb, 3.8 Ast) scored just 8 points vs. UC Davis, but he added 7 assists and a steal vs. two turnovers. He didn't get to the FT line for the first time in four games, but he seemed to have some mo-jo in driving to the rim and pinwheeling off of Heidegger. He's averaging 4 assists per game in his last 8 games.

Matt Freeman (9.6 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 2 Ast) had an off-night vs. Davis, hitting just 1-of-7 shots from the field in tallying 4 points. He had 2 rebounds and 3 assists in 21 minutes, his fewest minutes since he played a foul-plagued 19 minutes at Long Beach. Since that game, when he poured in 6 three-pointers, he has made just 4-of-21 three-pointers (.190). He made 3 free throws vs. UCD and is now 40-of-45 from the FT line this season (.889).

Devearl Ramsey (8.0 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 2.5 Ast) had one of his best games of the season in the win over Davis. Ramsey was 5-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3, for 13 points along with 7 rebounds. He's averaging 5.2 rebounds per game in his last 5 games. He is 50-of-58 from the FT line this season (.862).

Robinson Idehen (5.3 Pts, 4.1 Reb, 0.4 Ast) was active in his 10 minutes of playing time vs. Davis, hitting 4-of-5 shots (8 points) and grabbing 5 rebounds. He has made 57-of-82 from the field this season (.695).

Brandon Cyrus (5.8 Pts, 3.5 Reb, 1.3 Ast) has come off the bench the last 8 games, but is still getting starter-like minutes. He played 28 minutes vs. Davis, making just 2-of-8 shots but pulling down a season-high 8 rebounds...5 of them on the offensive boards. He seems to have at least one play per game where he takes it to the hole and dunks.

Jay Nagle (2.1 Pts, 1.1 Reb, 0.6 Ast) played just 3 minutes vs, Davis, and is averaging just 4 minutes per game in the last 4. He is 14-of-40 (.350) from three this season, but just 10 for his last 35 (.286).

Sekou Toure (3.3 Pts, 2.4 Reb, 0.4 Ast) hasn't scored since Jan. 22, mainly because he has logged just 34 total minutes since then (4.25 mpg). In my mind, his value is in defense, offensive rebounds and straight-line drives...but what do I know?

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Guard the bigs one-on-one. You can't collapse on UCR's big men because Riverside will make you pay from the 3-point line.
  • Speaking of, guard the 3-point line. Riverside takes the most threes in the conference, and has hit 36% of them in conference.
  • Find a way to get Sow the ball. He made 6-of-9 vs. UCR on 1/25. He's quicker than McRae and McWilliam.
  • Heidegger penetration creates opportunities for others. Max has put it all together...he can score, he can facilitate, he can play defense.
  • Get to the free throw line. The Gauchos make free throws at a 76% clip.
DC2 trends: UCSB's 5-game trend is strong at 55.18. UC Riverside is trending at 44.90 in its last 5. The Highlanders are just 3-3 at home in conference, and have lost their last 2 at Division I's ugliest gym. But this has always been a nightmare trip for UCSB. I think we get it done, but just barely. UCSB 57, UC Riverside 56.

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Saturday, February 22, 2020

UCD vs. UCSB Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

UC Davis at UCSB
Saturday, February 22, 2020, 7 pm PST, BigWest,tv
Quick Bite
The whirling dervishes of UC Davis invade the Thunderdome on Saturday night. The Aggies ran circles around and through the Gaucho defense a week ago Thursday, commanding the seas to part like Moses on the shores of Egypt. If they didn't get a layup, they'd kick it open for a three...or they'd make their free throws. Even as Max Heidegger went into break-glass-in-case-of-emergency mode and started making threes from Vacaville, Davis continued to score and hold on for a 9-point win. The Aggies haven't lost since -- two nights later they bombed away for 110 points vs. CSUN, and pulled away Thursday night at Cal Poly for a 15-point win. UCSB will have its hands full in a must-win game if a 2nd-place finish is the goal.

By the Numbers

UC Davis UC Santa Barbara
Record 13-15 17-9
Away/Home/Neutral (D1) 5-10 (A) 8-3 (H)
Big West Conference 7-5 6-5
Record vs. Quadrant vs. Q3: 2-7 vs. Q4: 12-3
Composite (NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag) 222 171
DCI 155 165
DC2 225 162
RPI 257 185
NET 198 171
SOS (NET) 320 326
KPom Offensive Efficiency 112 68
KPom Defensive Efficiency 305 269
KPom Tempo 184 334
Points per game (overall/BWC) 74.0 (105th) / 76.7 (2nd) 72.2 (143rd) / 69.3 (6th)
FG% (overall/BWC) 46.6% (41st) / 47.0% (3rd) 46.9% (33rd) / 46.2% (4th)
2-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 50.8% (139th) / 49.8% (4th) 53.8% (43rd) / 52.2% (2nd)
3-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 39.3% (7th) / 42.6% (1st) 34.2% (136th) / 35.4% (6th)
FT% (overall/BWC) 78.2% (7th) / 78.9% (1st) 75.8% (36th) / 76.3% (2nd)
Points allowed per game (overall/BWC) 71.7 (249th) / 74.4 (6th) 67.3 (120th) / 66.7 (3rd)
FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 45.8% (312th) / 48.0% (9th) 45.4% (298th) / 46.9% (8th)
2-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 53.4% (328th) / 55.4% (9th) 50.4% (240th) / 51.9% (8th)
3-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 33.7% (223rd) / 36.7% (6th) 36.0% (314th) / 36.4% (4th)
Off. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 7.5 (312th) / 7.3 (8th) 10.3 (177th) / 9.0 (5th)
Def. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 23.8 (168th) / 23.7 (5th) 21.3 (10th) / 21.5 (1st)
Off. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 9.3 (176th) / 8.9 (4th) 8.0 (27th) / 8.1 (3rd)
Def. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 23.5 (233rd) / 23.5 (5th) 24.0 (290th) / 22.1 (9th)
Rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 30.9 (286th) / 30.8 (6th) 34.2 (257th) / 31.1 (9th)
Rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 33.0 (169th) / 32.6 (6th) 29.3 (5th) / 29.5 (1st)
Assists per game (overall/BWC) 14.5 (323rd) / 14.4 (9th) 11.6 (89th) / 11.6 (3rd)
Steals per game (overall/BWC) 6.1 (206th) / 6.3 (9th) 4.5 (6th) / 3.8 (1st)
Blocks per game (overall/BWC) 2.6 (77th) / 2.5 (5th) 2.3 (16th) / 2.1 (2nd)
Best wins (NET, Quadrant) @ Northern Ariz (216, 3)
@ CSUN (235, 3)
@ UT Arlington (114, 2)
UC Irvine (109, 3)
@ Louisiana (231, 3)
Worst losses (NET, Quadrant) vs VMI (287, 4)
@ Portland (276, 4)
Cal State Fullerton (267, 4)
UC Riverside (219, 4)
Long Beach State (292, 4)
CSUN (235, 4)
Rice (214, 4)
Trend Won 4 in a row Won 4 of last 5

UCSB - UC Davis History
UCSB and UC Davis have played 41 times with the Gauchos holding a 30-11 all-time advantage. The Aggies won the first match-up between the teams on Feb. 13 in Davis, 84-75. The teams split games each of the last two years with the road team winning all four times.  Former head coach Bob Williams won a Division II championship at UC Davis in 1997-98.

Head Coach
Jim Les is in his 9th season as head coach at UC Davis. In his 4th season, the Aggies broke through with a 25-7 overall record, their first regular-season Big West championship (14-2 in conference play) and an NIT appearance. Les was named Big West coach of the year as his squad led the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.447). Two years later, UC Davis finished 2nd in conference, won its first Big West Tournament and defeated North Carolina Central in an NCAA Tournament First Four game. In 2017-18, Davis won 22 games and the regular-season championship again. Les once again was named Big West coach of the year.

Les came to the Aggies after spending nine years as the head coach at his alma mater, Bradley University, where he won more than 150 games and led the Braves to the 2006 NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.

Les began his collegiate basketball career playing at Cleveland State, but transferred after the 1981–82 season to Bradley. When he left college in 1986, he had compiled the second most assists in NCAA history in a combined playing career with Cleveland State and Bradley. With the Braves, he played alongside Hersey Hawkins. Years later, he would coach Hersey's son Corey.

Les is no stranger to the Sacramento area, having spent four years as a player with the Sacramento Kings, followed by three seasons as an assistant for the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs.

Probable Starters
  • Ezra Manjon (5) FR, G, 5-11, 165, Brentwood, CA, Heritage HS, 12.6 Pts, 3.3 Reb, 4.1 Ast -- has twice been named Big West player of the week. Ranks 6th in conference scoring (15.6 ppg) and 2nd in assists. In 4-game winning streak, averaging 14.8 ppg and 5 apg. 35% shooter from 3 (1.4 attempts per game). 76% from FT line. Scored 20 vs. UCSB. Ranks 6th in conference scoring (15.6 ppg), 3rd in assists and 4th in overall assist/TO ratio (2.2).
  • Elijah Pepper (40) FR, G, 6-4, 200, Selah, WA, Selah HS, 8.8 Pts, 5.5 Reb, 2.0 Ast -- Arguably the best rebounder on the team despite his position and size (12 rebounds per 100 plays). Has grabbed at least 4 rebounds in 22 straight games. Has posted 10 rebounds twice this season. Scored a career-high 19 at Long Beach, and got 18 vs. UC Irvine. Averaging 10 points and 5.8 rebounds in last 4 games. Scored 4 points and grabbed 6 rebounds vs. UCSB. 33% shooter from 3 (2.6 attempts per game). 78% FT shooter.
  • Kennedy Koehler (10) JR, F, 6-7, 220, Las Vegas, NV, Coronado HS, 5.9 Pts, 3.9 Reb, 0.9 Ast -- Transfer from Pima CC. Has started last 6 games, getting about 22 minutes. Picked up 25 fouls in those 6 starts, fouling out twice. Has fouled out 4 times this season. 17-of-34 from field in those 3 games (44 points), but just 19 rebounds. Decent free-throw percentage (.726). Not averse to taking the 3 (20 attempts in 28 games, 30% conversion rate). Scored 5 points and secured 4 rebounds vs. UCSB.
  • Damion Squire (1) SO, G, 6-0, 175, Montreal, Quebec, Wasatch Academy (UT), 5.8 Pts, 2.3 Reb, 1.6 Ast --  Has made 5 of last 9 shots since starting season 13-of-47 from two-point range. Gets to the free throw line (76 attempts, 22 in last 3 games). Low usage (17%). Takes 1.7 threes per game, making 1/3rd of them. Had season-high 15 points vs. UCSB after scoring just 3 points total in previous 3 games. Had 10 FT attempts vs. UCSB. Makes 76% of threes.
  • Rogers Printup (23) SR, G, 6-4, 205, Orange, CA, Orange Lutheran HS, 3.6 Pts, 2.3 Reb, 0.6 Ast -- career 3-point FG% of .312, but is 10-for-19 (.526) from 3 in last 6 games. Has started last 6 games. Played a season-high 34 minutes vs. UCSB, hitting a season-high 4 three-pointers in 7 attempts. Also grabbed a season-high 6 rebounds. 62% of his shots come from three (100% of them in the UCSB game).
Key reserves
  • Joe Mooney (22) SR, G, 6-3, 187, Wauconda, IL, Notre Dame College Prep, 13.2 Pts, 3.2 Reb, 1.3 Ast -- has been coming off the bench since Printup's return from injury. Ranks 10th in conference in overall scoring. Scored 35 points on 12-of-16 shooting at Northern Arizona. Has topped 20 points five times this season. Named Big West player of the week Dec. 9 after hitting 8 of 14 three-pointers in two games. Has taken the most 3-pointers on team (156), and converts at a .365 clip. Tied with Manjon for highest usage on team (23.9%). Hit 7-of-9 threes (29 points) in 110-98 win over CSUN.
  • Stefan Gonzalez (2) SR, G, 6-2, 195, Pocatello, ID, Highland HS, 11.0 Pts, 3.1 Reb, 1.0 Ast -- Transferred from Saint Mary's after his sophomore season. Ranks No. 1 nationally in 3-point FG% (.490, 5.7 attempts per game). Made 7-of-10 threes in game at Hawai'i. Takes 79% of his shots from 3. Ranks 12th in conference scoring (13.3 ppg). Does not turn the ball over (just 1.6 turnovers per 100 plays). Worst defensive box plus/minus on team (-3.6 pts per 100 possessions).
  • Matt Neufeld (13) SR, C, 6-11, 225, Victoria, British Columbia, Lambrick Park HS, 8.1 Pts, 3.5 Reb, 0.3 Ast -- Played two seasons at Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10. Makes a team-high 55.3% of his shots, all from two-point range. Averages just 20.6 minutes per game despite 21 starts. Started coming off the bench after a scoreless game Jan. 30 vs. UCI. Did not play vs. UCSB or CSUN due to injury and saw just 3 minutes at Cal Poly.
  • Caleb Fuller (11) SO, G, 6-5, 210, Ipswich, England, Barking Abbey School, 6.5 Pts, 2.0 Reb, 1.0 Ast -- scored 23 points coming off the bench at Fullerton, hitting 9-of-12 overall (2-of-3 from three, 3-of-4 from FT). Scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting vs. UCSB, and his drives really freed up 3-point shooters. Averaging 16 ppg in 4-game winning streak. Makes 38% of his threes (1.3 attempts per game) 
  • Ade Adebayo (24) FR, G, 6-4, 180, London, England, Barking Abbey School, 1.1 Pts, 0.8 Reb, 0.4 Ast -- first alphabetically in the Big West. Has just 24 FG attempts in 26 games (9.9 minutes per game). Scored 9 points vs. Cal Poly, the only time he has gone above 2 points in conference play. Has 11 assists vs. 20 turnovers. Has 8 blocked shots. Only played 1 minute vs. UCSB.
Match-up overview:
In our 1st preview of the Aggies, we talked about how strong they were from three, and Manjon's ability to break down a defense. OMG. UC Davis was 28-of-50 overall from the field (56%) and an efficient 7-of-15 from three (47%). They made their free throws (21-of-24, .875). They are a very difficult team to chase down because of their offensive efficiency. They make you guard the whole court, and not stopping drivers on the perimeters creates a cascade effect that usually leads to a basket or free throws. To add salt to the wound, the Aggies out-rebounded the taller Gauchos 32-26...although it's been pointed out that some of those rebounds came off of the numerous UCSB misses (just 7 of 16 from the line). Despite Joe Pasternack's continued insistence that this team is going to be known for its man-to-man defense, the Gauchos notoriously struggle with teams that can drive and kick it. See Rice, Cal Poly (2018), CSUN twice this season, UC Davis last week, etc.

UCSB did an adequate job on another drive-and-kick team. Cal State Fullerton rallied from an 11-point deficit by running the weave over and over. On one iteration, Jackson Rowe set the screen at the top of the key and faded to the right wing. He accepted the pass, and Amadou Sow was late getting over as Rowe hit a three. Thankfully, CSUF went away from the "dream weave" and the Gauchos made some clutch baskets and free throws down the stretch to get the road win.

UCSB is all of a sudden having trouble getting Sow the ball. In the three-game winning streak vs. Long Beach, Hawai'i and Irvine, Sow had 42 shot attempts (14 per game) plus 10 FT attempts (3.3 per game). In the last two games, he's had 18 shot attempts (9 per game) and 3 FT attempts (1.5 per game). Davis harassed the Santa Barbara guards and prevented good entry passes into the post. UCSB needs to bring Sow out to the top of the key and play pick-and-roll. Alternately, flash Freeman to the high post and go high-low to Sow. I think I vote for that option.

The Gauchos finally won a game where Max Heidegger scored more than 20 points. He was aggressive throughout the game...his drives to the basket have become so efficient. For the season, he is 55% from inside the perimeter. He has scored 58 points in his last two games, after having scored just 36 in the previous three (all wins). His FG attempts in the last two games (19, then 16) are his two highest totals of the season. And yet, he's still piling up assists...he had 5 vs. Fullerton. He is 2nd in the conference in assist/turnover ratio (2.5 overall, 3.4 in conference).

JaQuori McLaughlin has reached double figures in scoring his last three games (12.0 ppg) and has chipped in 10 assists. He missed three 3-pointers vs. Fullerton and has made just 5 of his last 26 attempts (.192). He's getting to the free throw line (18 attempts in his last 3 games), after going through a quiet stretch (4 total attempts in 4 games) that coincided with a groin injury.

Matt Freeman scored 9 of the Gauchos' first 13 points vs. Fullerton, and didn't score again until a huge stab drive jumper in the key late in the game. He has made multiple two-pointers in 5 straight games (64% completion rate), after going all of January without one. He is 4-of-17 (.235) from three in the last 4 games. His defense will be vital in the rematch with Davis.

Devearl Ramsey has played at least 30 minutes in all 11 conference games. He's been an excellent FT shooter in conference (30-of-32, .938). Ramsey was a key part of the Gaucho's 11-0 explosion out of the blocks vs. Fullerton...the Gauchos had four fast breaks early and converted on three of them. He's averaging 4.6 rebounds per game in his last 5. Another player who will need to play well defensively vs. Davis.

Robinson Idehen got just 10 minutes vs. Fullerton, and 7 vs. Davis. In the Davis game, he was apparently injured late in the 1st half and played only one minute in the 2nd half. He hit the deck again vs. Fullerton, but did see 4 minutes in the 2nd half. He only has 4 points in his last 3 games, although he had 7 rebounds vs. UCI.

Brandon Cyrus has come off the bench the last 7 games, making 12-of-26 shots, grabbing 18 rebounds and posting 6 steals in 132 total minutes. This after a 2-for-16 stretch in UCSB's 3-game losing streak. He played 20 minutes vs. Fullerton, scoring 6 points that included a highlight-reel dunk on a straight-line drive. He struggled to defend a beefier Jackson Rowe Thursday night.

Jay Nagle hit a three! His only shot attempt was buried, his first made three since Jan. 30. He also had an assist in 7 minutes of play. He's averaging just 4.3 minutes per game in his last 3 games.

Sekou Toure has also lost significant playing time -- he scored 6 points in 23 minutes at Cal Poly, and has played just 53 total minutes since then (5.3 mpg). He has not scored since the first CSUN game. He tallied an assist in 3 minutes at Fullerton

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Stop drives by Manjon and Fuller. These two started the domino effect that buried the Gauchos.
  • Recover to guard the 3-point line. UC Davis is 7th in the nation in 3-point FG%. Gonzalez leads the nation in 3-point FG%.
  • Don't foul. This is a very good free-throw-shooting team (7th in the nation in FT%).
  • Feed the bigs. UCSB guards can't force harassed passes at not-optimal angles into the post. Pasternack needs to come up with a different way to take advantage of the Gauchos' height.
  • Heidegger is aggressive. Mad Max, when he decides to take over a game, is virtually unstoppable. In the past, he has tended to facilitate but we may be past that point.
  • Freeman has a surge. The Gauchos win games when Freeman has a scoring spurt...they are 8-1 in the last 9 games in which Freeman has reach double digits in scoring.
  • Make free throws. Just looking at the box score from last week, if we make all of our FT's that game goes to OT...or perhaps we win, since we missed some front ends of one-and-ones. The 7-of-16 from the charity stripe stat tells me the team's focus wasn't there. Bus ride to Davis next year!
DC2 trends: UCSB's 5-game trend is strong at 57.97. UC Davis has been red-hot as well, at 57.54. Only Irvine has been hotter over the last 5. UC Davis is 4-2 in conference road games. The Gauchos are 2-1 in revenge games this season, and I think we figure out how to defend them well enough to get the win. UCSB 70, UC Davis 66.

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UCSB Gets Back on Track With Win at Fullerton, Hosts UC Davis Saturday
 JaQuori McLaughlin (Photo by Jeff Liang)

UCSB Has Quick Start, Decisive Finish in 75-66 Win at Fullerton
Max Heidegger (Photo by Jeff Liang)

Miller, Gauchos Sweep CSUN in 65-60 Victory
Danae Miller (Photo by Jeff Liang)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Gauchos Travel to Fullerton Thursday for ESPN3 Game, Host UC Davis Saturday
 Amadou Sow (Photo by Jeff Liang)

UCSB vs. CSF Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

UCSB at Cal State Fullerton
Thursday, February 20, 2020, 7 pm PST, ESPN3
Quick Bite
A sour taste remains from arguably the worst performance of the season, a nine-point loss at UC Davis last Thursday that considerably dimmed UCSB's regular-season title hopes. The race is for 2nd/3rd and avoiding UC Irvine until BWT Saturday. Now the Gauchos must travel to Orange County for its first meeting with the Titans, with just three weeks remaining in the regular season. Only two games separates 2nd from 9th. It's go time.

By the Numbers

UC Santa Barbara Cal State Fullerton
Record 16-9 10-16
Away/Home/Neutral (D1) 6-6 (A) 3-7 (H)
Big West Conference 5-5 5-6
Record vs. Quadrant vs. Q4: 11-3 vs. Q4: 6-6
Composite (NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag) 181 273
DCI 185 271
DC2 169 285
RPI 193 293
NET 176 259
SOS (NET) 324 292
KPom Offensive Efficiency 77 289
KPom Defensive Efficiency 266 229
KPom Tempo 335 159
Points per game (overall/BWC) 72.1 (144th) / 68.7 (6th) 68.5 (258th) / 74.8 (3rd)
FG% (overall/BWC) 47.0% (32nd) / 46.2% (4th) 43.0% (220th) / 43.7% (6th)
2-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 54.0% (36th) / 52.6% (1st) 47.7% (269th) / 47.5% (8th)
3-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 34.1% (145th) / 35.3% (6th) 33.9% (156th) / 36.1% (4th)
FT% (overall/BWC) 75.9% (36th) / 76.6% (2nd) 68.2% (262nd) / 68.5% (7th)
Points allowed per game (overall/BWC) 67.3 (124th) / 66.8 (3rd) 71.0 (223rd) / 77.5 (8th)
FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 45.4% (300th) / 47.1% (8th) 44.2% (248th) / 45.9% (6th)
2-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 50.5% (241st) / 52.2% (8th) 49.6% (212th) / 50.0% (5th)
3-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 36.1% (314th) / 36.4% (4th) 33.2% (187th) / 37.6% (8th)
Off. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 10.2 (188th) / 8.8 (6th) 7.7 (316th) / 8.7 (3rd)
Def. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 21.2 (7th) / 21.3 (1st) 27.3 (294th) / 27.1 (8th)
Off. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 7.9 (20th) / 7.9 (3rd) 9.1 (101st) / 9.5 (6th)
Def. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 24.0 (305th) / 21.9 (9th) 25.7 (164th) / 24.9 (5th)
Rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 34.2 (273rd) / 30.7 (9th) 33.4 (261st) / 33.6 (4th)
Rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 29.1 (3rd) / 29.2 (1st) 36.4 (247th) / 36.6 (8th)
Assists per game (overall/BWC) 11.5 (71st) / 11.5 (3rd) 12.0 (142nd) / 12.5 (6th)
Steals per game (overall/BWC) 4.6 (7th) / 4.0 (1st) 6.2 (163rd) / 6.0 (8th)
Blocks per game (overall/BWC) 2.2 (9th) / 1.8 (1st) 3.0 (151st) / 3.7 (9th)
Best wins (NET, Quadrant) @ UT Arlington (119, Q2)
UC Irvine (111, Q3)
@ Louisiana (230, Q3)
@ UCLA (99, Q2)
@ UC Davis (207, Q3)
Worst losses (NET, Quadrant) Long Beach St (290, Q4)
CSUN (234, Q4)
Rice (213, Q4)
vs Denver (331, Q4)
@ Cal Poly (318, Q4)
Trend lost 1, won 3 of last 4 won 1, lost 3 of last 5

UCSB - Cal State Fullerton History
UCSB and Cal State Fullerton have played 89 times in a series that began during the 1975-76 season. The Gauchos hold an all-time advantage of 48-41. The Titans won two out of three games between the two schools this season, with Fullerton eliminating UCSB in last year's BWT semifinals. CSUF won the game in Fullerton by an 81-60 margin.

Head Coach
In his seventh season at Cal State Fullerton, Dedrique Taylor has an overall record of 94-124. In 2018-19, the Titans made it to the Big West Tournament Final for the second straight year, the first time that has been accomplished in program history, but were unable to secure the trophy and return to the NCAA Tournament. Fullerton did earn its third consecutive postseason berth, also a program first, as it hosted CSU Bakersfield in the first round of the Postseason Tournament. The Titans went 16-18 on the year and 10-6 in Big West Conference action to take third place in the standings.

Taylor led the 2017-18 squad to a Big West Tournament Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007-08 and only the third time in program history. The year prior, he led the 2016-17 team to the postseason for the first time in program history since the 2011-12 season. The Titans hosted Weber State in the Postseason Tournament, also marking the first time in school history that the team hosted a postseason game.

Taylor played two seasons for Bob Williams at UC Davis, and was an assistant at the school after Williams' departure for UCSB. Taylor was also an assistant at Nevada, Portland State, Loyola Marymount and Arizona State, where he crossed paths with James Harden.

Probable Starters
  • Brandon Kamga (1) SR, G, 6-5, 215 Reston, VA, South Lakes HS, 15.2 Pts, 4.5 Reb, 1.3 Ast -- graduate transfer who played his freshman year at Northeastern and the last two seasons at High Point. No. 2 in Big West in scoring in conference play. Jan. 27 Big West player of the week after scoring 48 points in games vs. CSUN and Davis. Has scored no less than 16 points in 8 straight games (20.5 ppg). Hits 34% of his threes (5 attempts per game). Excellent FT shooter (81% overall, 52 of 60 in conference (87%)). 
  • Austen Awosika (10) SR, G, 6-3, 193, Carson, CA, Ayala HS (Chino Hills), 13.5 Pts, 4.3 Reb, 4.0 Ast -- leads the team in assists and steals. Dec. 30 Big West player of the week. Takes 11.4 shots per game after averaging 6 attempts the previous two seasons. Just 20% from three, but hit 3-of-6 at Cal Poly. Averages 5.5 FT attempts per game, but makes just 59%. Had 5 turnovers in consecutive home games vs. UCR and UCD but only had one in 4OT game vs. Cal Poly (vs. 8 assists).
  • Jackson Rowe (34) SR, F, 6-7, 210, Toronto, Canada, Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, UT), 15.6 Pts, 7.7 Reb, 1.9 Ast -- four-year starter, leads the team in scoring. Averaging 17.0 ppg in conference play. Missed first 11 games of season. Only making 48% from two after three consecutive season of better than 60%. Has added the 3 to his high 59 attempts (4 per game) and making 42%. Only 5 attempts away from a career high in FT attempts (72% completion rate). One of the best rebounders in the conference (7.3 rpg career average).
  • Davon Clare (5) SR, F, 6-5, 220, Killeen, TX, Harker Heights HS, 8.7 Pts, 5.6 Reb, 2.1 Ast -- averaging 32.5 minutes per game as a starter in each game this season, after only 12 previous career starts. Scored a season-high 21 in 4OT game with Cal Poly, hitting 3-of-5 three-pointers. Averaging 7.3 rebounds last 3 games. Good shooter (37% from 3, 52% from 2, 74% from FT). 
  • Vincent Lee (13) FR, F, 6-9, 215, Midlothian, TX, Heritage HS, 5.7 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 0.5 Ast -- left Nevada after one semester as a redshirt freshman. Has worked his way into the starting lineup. Has not taken a 3 this season. Hits 55% of his shots (4 attempts per game). Scored 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds vs. UC Davis. Averaging just 20 minutes per game.
  • Wayne Arnold (11) SO, G, 6-4, 170, Los Angeles, CA, Dominguez HS, 9.2 Pts, 3.1 Reb, 0.7 Ast. -- only played 7 minutes in Cal Poly 4OT game. Averaging 25.5 minutes per game. Hits 34% of 3's (5.5 attempts per game). Has only missed 2 FT's this season (31 of 33, 94%). Doesn't hit shots inside the perimeter (37%).
  • Tory San Antonio (23) FR, G, 6-3, 165, Moreno Valley, CA, Rancho Verde HS, 3.2 Pts, 1.9 Reb, 0.8 Ast -- had a career-high 13 points  vs. Cal Poly, hitting 3-of-5 three-pointers and 4-of-6 FT's in 34 minutes. Before that, he had scored just 2 total points while averaging 8.8 minutes per Big West conference game.
  • Johnny Wang (33) JR, F, 6-9, 245, Beijing, China, Santa Margarita Catholic HS, 2.7 Pts, 2.3 Reb, 0.2 Ast -- only 55 minutes in Big West play, with 3 DNP's.
  • Daniel Venzant (2) SO, G, 5-10, 163, Midland, TX, Midland Christian HS, 2.5 Pts, 0.7 Reb, 0.9 Ast -- has 7 starts, but none since start of conference play. Just 37 minutes in Big West play, with 2 DNP's. 7-of-14 from three. 
  • Josh Pitts (24) JR, F, 6-9, 248, San Antonio, TX, Memorial HS, 1.9 Pts, 1.5 Reb, 0.2 Ast -- was averaging 9 minutes per game in conference play, but did not play vs. Cal Poly. Averages 8 fouls per 40 minutes. Just 10-of-25 from FT line.
  • Cameron Carter (35) FR, G, 6-2, 180, Reno, NV, Damonte Ranch HS, 3.0 Pts, 2.0 Reb, 0.0 Ast -- just one game, hit a 3-pointer in 6 minutes vs. St. Katherine. Doubt we'll see him.
  • Mojus Mojus (12) FR, G, 6-4, 175, San Diego, CA, Balboa School, 0.5 Pts, 0.2 Reb, 0.3 Ast -- possibly the best name in the conference. Unfortunately, hasn't played since Jan. 3.
  • Emmanuel Taban (15) FR, F, 6-7, 171, Phoenix, AZ, Apollo HS, 0.0 Pts, 0.1 Reb, 0.0 Ast -- garbage time player. got 4 minutes in 30-point loss at UCI.

Match-up overview:
Doing this preview, one thing really jumped out at me. Fullerton doesn't have a bench...well, at least a bench that Taylor trusts. Arnold seems to be the only player that has consistently gotten run in every game, yet he hardly played in the 4OT game...Wang and Venzant have disappeared, and nobody had heard of San Antonio until he was pressed into action in the Cal Poly marathon.

Rowe, Kamga and Awosika are the scorers, with Arnold adding another option when he's in the game. Arnold, Kamga, Rowe and Clare are the main 3-point shooters. If you're looking for people to foul, that would be Awosika and Lee.

The Titans lost 7 in a row at one point in non-conference, and then won at UCLA. They lost 3 in a row to begin conference play, and then won 3 in a row. They are playing their 4th game in a row at home, where they have won just 3 games this season. Fullerton has won 5 straight when it holds its opponents to .462 FG% or less, while they have lost 3 in a row when giving up more than that.

Has anyone figured out what happened last Thursday? UCSB has held its previous 3 opponents (all wins) to a .412 FG%, and then UC Davis blitzed the Moses "part the seas" defense for 56%. This board's collective wisdom pins it on perimeter defense. We don't have any. Opponent penetration starts a cascade event that results in baskets or fouls, sometimes both. For a team that plays exclusively man-to-man, they weren't too close to too many men last Thursday. In my opinion, the team was lethargic to begin with. Maybe loggy from the bus ride...I don't know. Defense is at first a matter of will and heart.

So, does Fullerton rely on penetration? Uh, yeah. They lead the conference in FT attempts per game (21.3). Penetration is how they get their threes as well, usually on the strong side. Drive, kick, drive, kick. Or they'll run the weave on you at the top of the key.

So the Gauchos will have to do a better job of stopping penetration. In previous seasons, Pasternack solved this issue by tweaking the man-to-man with the pack-line concept. Why hasn't this been used this season? Also, IMHO, Sekou Toure has the athleticism and energy to play man-to-man defense on the perimeter. But he's only reached double digits once (11 minutes) since Jan. 8. He was consistently getting 20 minutes per game before that. I know he's not even close to perfect, but the guy plays hard and he's got hops. Why is he not playing? What a waste.

The Big West is watching tape of how the UC Davis midgets shut down Amadou Sow. Hawai'i and Irvine couldn't stop him, but Davis harassed the ball and cut off the angles the Gauchos like to use to get Sow the ball. Sow scored just 10 points at Davis, his lowest total since he got 9 at Hawai'i.

At some time, Max Heidegger said "F this" and started launching three-pointers from Sacramento. He made 8-of-12 threes and single-handedly scrambled the Gauchos to the edge of the game. Here's a schocking stat...UCSB is 0-6 this season when Heidegger scores 21 or more points! They are 7-2 otherwise in games that he plays. He's kind of turned into a fire extinguisher...break glass when needed.

JaQuori McLaughlin appears to have fully recovered from his groin injury. He's now had at least 6 FT attempts in two straight games, indicating that he's pinning his ears back more and taking it to the hole. He's struggling from outside, having hit just 5-of-23 (.217) from three over the last 7 games.

Matt Freeman is also struggling from three...since his hallmark 6-of-7 performance at the Pyramid, he is just 3-of-15 (.200) from long distance. He grabbed 7 rebounds vs. Davis, but his defense seemed to take a step back.

Devearl Ramsey is another player who has to be able to stop guard penetration. He had 4 turnovers at Davis as he struggled to distribute the ball, especially in the 1st half. He didn't get to the FT line.

Robinson Idehen appeared to get hurt late in the 1st half...he finished with just 7 minutes of action. This is another player that needs to see the court a lot more. Hopefully, he has recovered from whatever happened.

Brandon Cyrus has made just 11 of his last 37 shots, including just 1-of-11 from three. He did have 4 assists vs. UC Davis.

Jay Nagle played 5 minutes, and had 0's across the board. He has hit just 9 threes since Nov. 16 (.265).

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Stop penetration. The Titans are another one of those teams that runs downhill at you. UCSB must stop straight-line drives to the basket.
  • Control Rowe. He's an excellent rebounder for his size. 
  • Overcome Fullerton's experience. The Titans start four seniors, and Awosika and Rowe have gone to three straight post-seasons and two BWT finals.
  • Better entry passes into the post. If not, bring the bigs out to set screens for the guards and run the pick-and-roll.
  • No moving screens. Say no more.
  • McLaughlin and Heidegger on the same page. I'll keep posting this key until it happens, or Heidegger graduates.
DC2 trends: UCSB's 5-game trend dips to 49.97, but it's still better than it was a few weeks ago. Fullerton is at a lowly 36.05 over its last 5 (last 10 = 40.45, season-long = 38.11). With the logjam below Irvine, every result is magnified for seeding purposes. First things first. My prediction? We dig down deep, and pull out a 68-64 victory.

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Friday, February 7, 2020

UCI vs. UCSB Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

UC Irvine at UCSB
Saturday, February 8, 2020, 7 pm PST, ESPU
Quick Bite
The pre-season Big West favorites meet for the first time, with UCI storming out to a 3-game lead on struggling Santa Barbara. Realistically, the Gauchos need to sweep Irvine for any chance to win the regular-season title. Conversely, Irvine enters a stretch of play where they could salt away the championship. Biggest game of the season so far, at least from the Gauchos' perspective.

By the Numbers
note, the per-game stats for UCSB are not updated

UC Irvine UC Santa Barbara
Record 15-9 15-8
Away/Home/Neutral (D1) 4-7 (A) 7-3 (H)
Big West Conference 7-1 4-4
Record vs. Quadrant vs. Q4: 8-4 vs. Q2: 1-2
Composite (NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag) 124 178
DCI 102 178
DC2 108 166
RPI 137 199
NET 111 168
SOS (NET) 208 335
KPom Offensive Efficiency 128 86
KPom Defensive Efficiency 118 251
KPom Tempo 177 334
Points per game (overall/BWC) 74.8 (89th) / 75.1 (2nd) 72.2 (153rd) / 67.4 (8th)
FG% (overall/BWC) 46.8% (35th) / 48.0% (2nd) 46.8% (39th) / 45.2% (3rd)
2-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 52.6% (74th) / 54.2% (1st) 53.5% (49th) / 50.2% (4th)
3-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 33.3% (183rd) / 33.3% (9th) 34.4% (123rd) / 36.8% (4th)
FT% (overall/BWC) 74.0% (78th) / 70.4% (5th) 75.9% (37th) / 77.1% (2nd)
Points allowed per game (overall/BWC) 65.7 (88th) / 62.8 (1st) 66.9 (112th) / 65.3 (2nd)
FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 37.6% (9th) / 37.3% (1st) 45.1% (289th) / 46.9% (8th)
2-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 39.0% (1st) / 39.2% (1st) 50.3% (235th) / 52.3% (8th)
3-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 35.1% (289th) / 33.1% (1st) 36.0% (316th) / 36.3% (6th)
Off. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 11.8 (31st) / 12.4 (1st) 10.3 (175th) / 8.4 (7th)
Def. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 21.4 (55th) / 21.6 (3rd) 21.3 (10th) / 21.6 (1st)
Off. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 9.3 (177th) / 9.5 (6th) 7.6 (12th) / 6.9 (2nd)
Def. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 28.9 (7th) / 28.4 (1st) 24.5 (277th) / 22.7 (8th)
Rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 40.7 (4th) / 40.8 (1st) 34.8 (250th) / 31.1 (8th)
Rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 30.6 (76th) / 31.1 (4th) 28.9 (6th) / 28.4 (2nd)
Assists per game (overall/BWC) 10.2 (58th) / 7.9 (2nd) 11.8 (98th) / 12.3 (3rd)
Steals per game (overall/BWC) 5.5 (105th) / 4.6 (3rd) 4.5 (6th) / 3.4 (1st)
Blocks per game (overall/BWC) 2.7 (106th) / 2.8 (3rd) 2.4 (21st) / 2.3 (2nd)
Best win (NET) @ Boise State (91) @ UT Arlington (126)
Worst loss (NET) @ Long Beach State (307) Long Beach State (307)
Trend won 4 straight, 7 of 8 won 2 straight, 3 of 4

UCSB - UC Irvine History
UCSB and UC Irvine have played 93 times with the Gauchos holding a 52-41 all-time advantage. The Anteaters swept the season series a year ago, winning 83-70 in Orange County and 66-62 in overtime at the Thunderdome. Dating back to the 2017-18 season, UCI has won the last four meetings between the schools, including a 61-58 decision in the 2017-18 Big West Tournament.

Head Coach
Russell Turner was named UC Irvine's head coach April 9, 2010, after serving the previous six seasons as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association following positions at Stanford University and Wake Forest University. Turner is now in his 10th season as head coach, having guided the Anteaters to 203 wins and postseason appearances in 6 of 9 complete seasons (2013 CIT, 2014 NIT, 2015 NCAA, 2016 CIT, 2017 NIT and 2019 NCAA). Turner is now the winningest head coach in UCI history.

He led UCI to a record-breaking 2018-19 season as the Anteaters broke school records in overall wins (31), longest winning steak (17 games) and tied a program best 15-1 mark in Big West play. Turner guided the Anteaters to their second Big West Conference Tournament title and second NCAA Tournament appearance. UCI won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game defeating fourth-seeded Kansas State 70-64.

Known as a big man guru, he helped Jonathan Galloway become the Big West's first-ever three time Defensive Player of the Year recipient. He also coached the 7'6" Mamadou N'Diaye, who was the tallest man in college basketball during his playing years. He currently has three solid big men (Rutherford, Greene and Welp) that are significant contributors.

Turner also served as a coach for the Warriors' summer-league entry in Las Vegas for five seasons. He has been an active participant in the NBA's international outreach camps, including Basketball without Borders, representing the league in Turkey, China and Lithuania. BWB is a program that uses basketball to create positive social change in education, health and wellness.

Turner was a member of Mike Montgomery's Stanford University staff from 2000-04 when the Cardinal had a combined overall record of 105-24 (.814), including 59-13 (.819) in Pac-10 play. Prior to Stanford, Turned worked under Dave Odom as an assistant at Wake Forest University from 1994-2000. The Demon Deacons won 161 games in those six seasons, advancing to the NCAA tournament three times, including the Midwest Regional final in 1996. Tim Duncan was a three-time All-American during Turner's tenure at Wake Forest. He is a native of Roanoke, Va.

He has long been rumored to be in line for a Pac-12 or ACC head coaching position, but comments perceived as homophobic that surfaced after last season's NCAA Tournament loss may have scared some schools off. In what may have been the worst post-game press conference in tournament history, Turner bragged about calling an opposing player “Queen”, creating a significant media storm.  To his credit, Turner owned the mistake and worked hard to reach out to the Irvine community afterwards. 

He is one of the more demonstrative Big West coaches along the sidelines, and notoriously strutted like a rooster as the Anteaters wrapped up an overtime victory at the Thunderdome last season.

Probable Starters
  • Brad Greene (55) SR, C, 6-10, 320, Lone Pine, CA, Lone Pine HS, 8.8 Pts, 7.2 Reb, 0.8 Ast. Overweight earlier in his career, he has transformed his large frame into a formidable force. Is 15-of-23 in his last two games for 35 points. Has a decent hook shot. Shooting 59% from two, 56.5% from FT line. Leads team with 29 blocks. Grabs a team-best 20.3 rebounds per 100 possessions. Pulled down 21 rebounds vs. Hawai'i. Has six double-doubles this season. Is prone to foul trouble (8.5 fouls per 100 possessions and 6 per 40 minutes).
  • Tommy Rutherford (42) SR, F, 6-8, 220, El Cajon, CA, Grossmont HS, 10.1 Pts, 4.2 Reb, 0.7 Ast. A 2-time all-conference selection. UCI's active games-played leader at 132 consecutive games. Makes 66.4% of his shots from two, and has good hands (just 3.6 turnovers per 100 possessions). Has 30 points in last two games. Not nearly the rebounder or blocker that Greene is. Is the 30th Anteaters to score 1,000 points. Is 2nd active in Big West in career rebounds (643). Averages 6.9 fouls per 100 possessions and 4.9 per 40 minutes.
  • Evan Leonard (14) SR, G, 6-1, 190, Cerritos, CA, Cerritos HS, 11.6 Pts, 3.7 Reb, 2.1 Ast. Averaging 13.9 ppg in conference after averaging 9.9 ppg in non-con. Takes the most threes on the team (5.4) but hits just 26.5% of them. This after shooting 3's at a .405 clip the last two seasons. 51-of-61 from FT line (.836). 
  • John Edgar Jr. (11) SR, F, 6-5, 217, Chino Hills, CA, Ayala HS, 6.6 Pts, 4.7 Reb, 1.7 Ast. Fourth or fifth option on offense, but tends to play within himself. Usage is just 17.7%.
  • Eyassu Worku (24) SR, G, 6-2, 170, Artesia, CA, Los Alamitos HS, 11.9 Pts, 2.5 Reb, 4.0 Ast. Ranked 48th nationally in assist/turnover ratio at 2.29. Is the 29th Anteater to reach 1,000 career points. Is the 10th Anteater to reach 300 assists. 42.1% overall from 2 overall, but 57.1% in conference. Hitting 41.1% from three (3.8 attempts per game). 74.1% from FT line. Leads team with 8.1 assists per 100 possessions. Plays a team-high 28 minutes per game.
Key Reserves
  • Collin Welp (40) SO, F, 6-9, 235, Seattle, WA, Seattle Prep, 13.8 Pts, 6.3 Reb, 2.0 Ast. Leads team in scoring. Had a career-high 18 rebounds against Detroit Mercy and has posted five double-doubles on the season. He finished with a career-high 31 points and 7 three's made against Eastern Michigan (Nov. 30). Is an excellent passer (16.8% assist percentage, 4.6 assists per 100 possessions). High usage when he is in game (26.6%). Dangerous from three (43.3%). Son of the late Christian Welp (U-Dub's all-time leading scorer).
  • Jeron Artest (15) FR, G, 6-3, 184, Scottsdale, AZ, Bella Vista Prep, 3.0 Pts, 1.1 Reb, 0.8 Ast. One of two sons of Metta World Peace playing in the Big West this season. Makes just 40.7% of his twos, 30.8% of threes and 42.9% of FT's. Will come in to spell Edgar at the 3, which has been a flawed position in the Irvine offense. Usage is just 15.7%.
  • Isaiah Lee (5) FR, G, 6-2, 190, 3.2 Pts, 2.2 Reb, 2.6 Ast. Takes 2/3rds of his shots from 3 on low volume (2 attempts per game), making 35%. Makes just 33% from elsewhere, but is a good 80% from FT line (15 attempts). Averages 7.5 assists per 100 possessions. Prone to turnovers (a horrid 37.3 per 100 possessions).
  • Austin Johnson (13) FR, F, 6-9, 223, Marietta, GA, Wheeler HS, 4.7 Pts, 3.4 Reb, 0.2 Ast. Very good inside player (.638 from two). Can't stay on floor (12.9 minutes per game) with high foul rate (team-high 7.2 fouls per 40 minutes, 10.3 fouls per 100 possessions). Also turns the ball over a lot (26.3 per 100 possessions).
Match-up overview:
The Anteaters are firmly in control of the Big West race at the halfway point of the season, and look to be figuring out how to play without Max Hazzard...who decided to transfer as a graduate to Arizona and ride the pine. This could have been a borderline top-25 team had Hazzard stuck around. As it is, they seem to be gathering steam as they lay waste to the conference. They now enter probably the toughest stretch of their season. After its road trip to UCSB, it travels to UCR, Hawai'i and CSUN while hosting Long Beach State (its only loss). They lead the nation in rebound margin at 10.1. They have struggled to put together 40-minute more than a few non-conference losses the Anteaters fell way behind before rallying to make it respectable, and in their last game vs. Davis they nearly blew a 20-point lead and needed to make their FT's to post the victory.

UCSB enters the second half of conference play also rounding into form. Amadou Sow shrugged off early foul trouble and a tweaked ankle to score 30 points on 12-of-13 shooting, including 2-for-2 from three. Sow's best play, however, may have been a pass to a cutting-up-the-key Matt Freeman out of a double team. He has a history of success vs. Hawai'i, but it may be a different story vs. Irvine's big men. Sow did shoot 10-of-17 last season vs. Irvine, scoring 25 points. But he managed just 9 rebounds in 58 minutes of play while picking up 8 fouls. His quickness was too much for the UH 7-footers. JaQuori McLaughlin seemed to be more active in the Hawai'i game as he continues to recover from a groin injury. He took all nine of his shots from inside the perimeter, but he didn't get to the foul line. In fairness, the refs seemed to be swallowing their whistles on any guards driving into traffic (Max Heidegger may have an opinion on this). Well, Matt Freeman didn't hit 6 threes. He was just 2-of-9 from the field. Freeman seemed frantic in the UCSB offense vs. Hawai'i. He could have been called for a moving screen almost every time down the floor, and he eventually fouled out on a forced attempt to get the ball to the red-hot Sow. But he garnered 6 rebounds, had a blocked shot and a steal. Robinson Idehen hit all 4 of his shots and 3-of-4 from the FT line for 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists in just 16 minutes. He helped keep UCSB ahead while Sow sat. The Gauchos shot 56% from the field in an efficient offensive performance.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Sow vs. Irvine's bigs. Can Sow's quickness be an asset, or will he be small to get his shots off. On defense, can he guard them without getting into foul trouble. Will Irvine double him? If so, will the Gauchos help him by cutting to the basket/open spot?
  • We know Heidegger will go right at Irvine's bigs. Will he get the calls to get them into foul trouble? Can he finish amongst the trees? Will he draw a lot of attention on the perimeter?
  • Activate McLaughlin. J-Roq was playing his best when Heidegger was sitting out with his concussion and before his own injury. Since his return, he has shied away from the drives that opened up his offensive game. If Heidegger or Sow draws double teams, can McLaughlin take advantage?
  • Freeman, et al, hits 3's. UCSB has won 11 straight games in which Freeman has hit 40% or better from 3. If the trees prevent our guards from driving, we're going to need to hit these outside shots to stay connected.
  • Who guards Welp? Is this a game where Idehen starts, and UCSB trys to stay big? Or does he stay with Freeman, whose defense is not his strong suit? Can Freeman guard a Welp or Rutherford, or does Sow need to take that matchup leaving Greene for Freeman? This is where Irvine kills you, and we probably don't have a really good answer here.
  • Bench play. Pasternack has tightened up the rotation, with the starters getting 30+ minutes unless they are in foul trouble. Idehen is a proven contributor off the bench, Can a Nagle, or Cyrus or Toure have a breakout performance?
  • Rebounding. Hey, we're not that bad ourselves at 32nd in the nation in rebounding margin. Irvine gets a strong 35.5% of all rebounds when it's on offense, while we are a very good 76.3% defending against offensive rebounds. When UCSB is on offense, it gets 32.6% of all rebounds while Irvine grabs 75.7% of its defensive rebounds. It's strength on strength, but you have to give the edge to UCI here based on strength of schedule.
DC2 trends: UCSB's 5-game trend has perked up to a 43.67, while Irvine is a solid 55.79 in the last 5 and an outstanding 61.45 in its last 10. Irvine is a veteran squad that travels well, and won't be intimidated in the Thunderdome or on national TV. The Anteaters have more depth, more size and more balance. Sow and Heidegger will need help if the Gauchos are going to trip up the Big West leaders. My prediction? It's close, but Irvine prevails 65-63.

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Sow's Career Night Propels Gauchos Past Hawai'i, 76-66
Amadou Sow dunks for two of his career-high 30 points in Thursday's win over Hawai'i. (Photo by Jeff Liang)

Gauchos Cut Open UC Irvine, Sweep Season Series in 67-57 Win
Ila Lane (Photo by Jeff Liang)

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Gauchos Host Hawai'i Thursday to Begin Important Big West Week
Brandon Cyrus (Photo by Jeff Liang)

Hawaii vs. UCSB Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

Hawai'i at UCSB
Thursday, February 6, 2020, 7 pm PST, BigWest.TV
Quick Bite
The State of the University of California, Santa Barbara men's basketball squad is...better, following a 25-point schlonging of the Long Beach State The Beach.  The difference in the two games vs. the basketball players formerly known as the 49ers caused me to stand up and ceremoniously tear up my notes. Going forward, it appears to be which Gaucho team shows up to play.

By the Numbers                                                              

Hawai'i UC Santa Barbara
Record 14-6 14-8
Away/Home/Neutral (D1) 1-3 (A) 6-3 (H)
Big West Conference 5-1 3-4
Record vs. Quadrant vs. Q3: 2-1 vs. Q4: 11-3
Composite (NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag) 154 184
DCI 179 202
DC2 192 170
RPI 164 212
NET 177 178
SOS (NET) 247 341
KPom Offensive Efficiency 190 89
KPom Defensive Efficiency 176 253
KPom Tempo 128 336
Points per game (overall/BWC) 71.3 (179th) / 71.0 (4th) 72.2 (152nd) / 67.4 (7th)
FG% (overall/BWC) 44.2% (152nd) / 43.1% (6th) 46.8% (37th) / 45.2% (4th)
2-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 50.6% (144th) / 48.6% (5th) 53.5% (51st) / 50.2% (4th)
3-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 34.4% (129th) / 34.5% (7th) 34.4% (126th) / 36.8% (5th)
FT% (overall/BWC) 69.6% (208th) / 64.8% (9th) 75.9% (37th) / 77.1% (1st)
Points allowed per game (overall/BWC) 68.2 (149th) / 69.5 (4th) 66.9 (114th) / 65.3 (2nd)
FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 43.4% (211th) / 45.9% (7th) 45.1% (290th) / 46.9% (8th)
2-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 47.5% (127th) / 49.6% (4th) 50.3% (237th) / 52.3% (8th)
3-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 32.8% (168th) / 35.6% (5th) 36.0% (315th) / 36.3% (6th)
Off. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 9.5 (284th) / 9.8 (3rd) 10.3 (158th) / 8.4 (3rd)
Def. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 24.2 (28th) / 26.3 (3rd) 21.3 (15th) / 21.6 (1st)
Off. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 8.4 (14th) / 6.2 (1st) 7.6 (14th) / 6.9 (3rd)
Def. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 24.8 (321st) / 26.0 (9th) 24.5 (255th) / 22.7 (8th)
Rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 34.3 (331st) / 35.8 (9th) 34.8 (227th) / 31.1 (8th)
Rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 32.5 (13th) / 32.5 (1st) 28.9 (8th) / 28.4 (2nd)
Assists per game (overall/BWC) 9.6 (6th) / 8.2 (1st) 11.8 (117th) / 12.3 (4th)
Steals per game (overall/BWC) 6.8 (146th) / 5.2 (3rd) 4.5 (9th) / 3.4 (1st)
Blocks per game (overall/BWC) 3.0 (59th) / 3.8 (5th) 2.4 (28th) / 2.3 (2nd)
Best win (NET) vs. San Francisco (85) @ UT Arlington (118)
Worst loss (NET) vs. South Dakota (171) vs. Long Beach State (293)
Trend won 4 straight, won 6 of 7 won 1 straight, won 2 of 3

UCSB - Hawai'i History
UCSB and Hawai'i have officially played 24 times with each team having won 12 times. Last season, the Gauchos cruised to a 75-54 win on Oahu and a 79-61 victory at the Thunderdome. On Jan. 18, Hawai'i won 70-63 at Stan Sheriff to end a 3-game losing skid to UCSB.

Head Coach
Eran Ganot, 38, is in his 5th season (83-49) at the helm of Hawai'i men's basketball. Ganot has won more games (77) in his first four seasons than any other coach at UH. In his first year, Ganot led Hawai’i to both the Big West regular-season and tournament titles, a school-record 28 wins and an opening-round upset of California for the program’s first-ever win in the Big Dance. Ganot also claimed Big West Coach of the Year honors after enjoying the most successful inaugural season of any coach in the history of the conference. Prior to becoming UH’s head coach, he enjoyed two successful assistant-coaching stints at Saint Mary’s. In between his two stints at Saint Mary’s, Ganot was on the staff at Hawai'i under Riley Wallace and then Bob Nash.

Probable Starters
  • Eddie Stansberry (3), SR, G, 6-3, 190, San Francisco, CA, Archbishop Riordan (CA), 17.0 Pts, 3.2 Reb, 1.4 Ast. Won Big West Player of the Week for the third time this season after scoring 22 points vs. CSUN. Hit game-winning 3-pointer vs. UC Davis. Held to 6 points in first meeting with UCSB. Prolific 3-point shooter (35% on 9 attempts per game). 89% at FT line. Does not get a lot of rebounds (just 4.9 per 100 possessions).
  • Zigmars Raimo (14), SR, F, 6-8, 230, Madona, Latvia, Riga Secondary School, 9.8 Pts, 7.4 Reb, 3.7 Ast. Leads team in steals per 100 possessions (2.8), and doesn't get into foul trouble. Sow has had success vs. him in post. Not a remarkable rebounder, and hits just 47.5% of his twos. Not a threat from three (25% on less than 1 attempt per game). Had 20 pts vs. CSUN.
  • Drew Buggs (1), JR, G, 6-3, 195, Long Beach, CA, Long Beach Polytechnic High School, 9.5 Pts, 4.2 Reb, 6.3 Ast. Leads the Big West and ranks 20th nationally in assists per game. In the last three games he has 33 assists to four turnovers. Just 12 assists away from breaking the school's all-time assists record currently held by Troy Bowe (412). Scored 12 points and added 12 assists to help UH pull away from UCSB. Must make him shoot (.408 from 2, .286 from 3) vs. pass.
  • Justin Webster (2), FR, G, 6-3, 175, Dallas, TX, Hargrave Military Academy, 8.2 Pts, 1.5 Reb, 0.8 Ast. Has been starting in place of injured Avea. A good shooter (.529 from 2, .362 from 3). Got 17 points at CSUN...Avea may be available, but Webster has held down the fort with no dropoff.
  • Dawson Carper (44), SO, C, 7-0, 250, Colorado Springs, CO, Rampart HS, 5.6 Pts, 4.1 Reb, 0.3 Ast. Has started 16 of 20 games, but averages less than 16 minutes per game. Averages 9.9 personal fouls per 100 possessions. Hits 61% of his shots (4.2 attempts per game). Just a 36% FT shooter.
Key Reserves
  • Samuta Avea (32), JR, G, 6-6, 195, Hauula, HI, Bingham High School, 11.0 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 1.3 Ast. Has been injured since UCSB game (started, but played just 10 minutes). Began participating in full practices last week, but he didn't play Saturday at CSUN. Hits 38% of his threes, taking 4.7 per game. Only .446 from two.
  • Bernardo Da Silva (5), FR, F, 6-9, 200, Rio Das Ostras, Brazil Wasatch Academy, 5.8 Pts, 4.2 Reb, 0.4 Ast. Originally headed for BYU, but was released from his letter of intent when head coach Dave Rose retired. Has missed the last 3 games due to injury. Their best rebounder at 17.2 per 100 possessions.
  • Justin Hemsley (42), SO, G, 6-5, 190, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Damien HS, 4.5 Pts, 2.3 Reb, 0.5 Ast. Has averaged 10.3 ppg the last 3 games. Hits 64% of 2's, but just 28% of 3's (which he takes a good chunk of shots from, lowering his effective field goal% to 55%). Averages 19.5 minutes per game.
  • Mate Colina (11), SO, C, 7-0, 240, Melbourne, Australia, Lake Ginninderra (Australia), 1.9 Pts, 1.6 Reb, 0.3 Ast. Hits 63% of his twos in 7.1 minutes per game. Not a good rebounder for his size, and averages a team-high 11 personal fouls per 100 possessions.
  • Owen Hulland (15), SO, F, 7-0, 230, Adelaide, Australia, Lake Ginninderra (Australia) 3.0 Pts, 2.0 Reb, 0.0 Ast. First game was vs. UCSB. Came off the bench to hit a couple of threes. Hit another one vs. UC Davis. Is 3-for-7 (.429) from 3 and 0-for-3 from 2 in 8 minutes per game.
Match-up overview:
The Rainbow Warriors are off to a 5-1 Big West start, their best since the 2015-16 season, and sit a half game behind first-place UC Irvine. UH has come from behind late in the second half in each of its last two wins. The 'Bows are 5-0 this year in games decided by five points or less. In the first meeting, UCSB led at halftime but Hawai'i quickly gained control in the 2nd half. Drew Buggs killed UCSB with his speed, which has been a pattern vs. our man-to-man defense.

UCSB is coming off a very enjoyable drubbing of Long Beach State at the Pyramid. Max Heidegger was a facilitator, garnering 11 assists. Combined with a 30-point performance at CSUN, I think we can safely say that Heidegger is playing the best of his UCSB career in terms of points, assists, rebounds and defense. I mean, he just missed a triple-double...which is Brian Shaw territory. Regardless of how this season goes, we should savor the short time we have left with Mad Max.

Last week, we mentioned that Amadou Sow needed to avoid 1st-half foul trouble in order to be effective. Sow had just two fouls at Long Beach, which allowed him to stay on the floor for a career-high 35 minutes. Sow had a season-high 14 rebounds along with 15 points. He did a little bit better vs. double teams...he had no turnovers, but just one assist.

It has been said that Matt Freeman's greatest (only?) worth is his 3-point shooting. He was scoreless at CSUN, for example. The coaching staff convinced Pasternack to start at LB, and Freeman was on fire. Dan Monson said they allowed Freeman to get into a rhythm on his first nakedly-open attempt. Freeman finished 6-of-7 from the perimeter, including one sublime stretch in the first four minutes of the 2nd half when he buried 3 of them. He also hit 3-of-4 from inside, not exactly his specialty. And he played defense! Yes, he was in foul trouble and din't play much after his 2nd-half outburst, but he drew back-to-back charges that took one of the Beach's best big men out of the game.

JaQuori McLaughlin hasn't been the same since a) Heidegger's return and/or b) a groin injury that caused him to miss the first CSUN contest. He is 9-of-28 from the field (3-of-10 from 3) in his last 3 games. In the five games before his injury, J-Roq got to the free throw line 4.8 times per game. The last 3? Just 4 times total. We'll know he's 100% healthy when he gets that number back up.

Interestingly, the UCSB starters logged 157 minutes at Long Beach. Only Freeman had less than 32 minutes. Has Pasternack lost confidence in some players?

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Fumigate. We do not need a "Buggs infestation" in the Thunderdome (hat tip to GauchoFreg). If we can stop him from being a playmaker and turn him into a shooter, that gives us a better chance to win.
  • Sow stays out of foul trouble. Sow played a season-low 18 minutes at Hawai'i. He owned UH in 2018-19, hitting 60% of his shots while averaging 19 ppg. He had just 9 points on Jan. 18.
  • McLaughlin gets to FT line. This would tell me he's driving the lane like he was in December. 
  • Heidegger is Heidegger. Enjoy him while you can
  • The best version of Freeman is in the Thunderdome tonight.

DC2 trends: Hawai'i has an underwhelming DC2 of 41.61 in its last 5 games. UH enjoyed some home cooking, sweeping a 4-game homestand which included a 4-point win over Cal Poly, an Eddie Stansberry game-winning 3 vs. Davis and a CSUN collapse (the Matadors blew a 17-point, 2nd-half lead). UCSB raised its 5-game trend from a Big West-worst 28.78 to 40.50 with the Long Beach shellacking. It must be admitted that UCSB also played better vs. a team in a second meeting. Hmmm...what to do, what to do. I'm going with the Gauchos, baby! UCSB escapes, 66-63.

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Saturday, February 1, 2020

UCSB vs. LBSU Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

UCSB at Long Beach State
Saturday, February 1, 2020, 4 pm PST, ESPN3
Quick Bite
I just got my new driver's license the other day. Different images pop out as you hold the card and move it around in different orientations to the light. One image is a 49er. Racist California. Saturday, the Gauchos meet a school that has moved beyond its racist origins to embrace new identities. Lots of them.

By the Numbers                                                              
 Quadrant 4 Game
Record (D1) 13-8 8-15
Away/Home (D1) 5-5 (A) 5-4 (H)
Big West Conference 2-4 2-4
Composite National Rankings
NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag 193 282
DCI 229 290
DC2 189 309
RPI 227 269
NET 186 285
SOS (NET) 339 129
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy) 
Offense 101 294
Defense 267 255
Tempo 337 37
Team Statistics (Overall/BWC)
Scoring 71.5 (175)  /  64.2 (9) 68.0 (271)  /  68.0 (8)
2Pt % 54.0 (38)  /  51.4 (3) 46.9 (289)  /  46.7 (7)
3Pt % 33.8 (147)  /  35.1 (6) 36.3 (51)  /  40.2 (2)
FT% 75.2 (47)  /  74.8 (1) 68.5 (235)  /  67.5 (6)
Scoring Defense 67.1 (118)  /  65.8 (2) 76.6 (324)  /  71.8 (5)
2Pt % Defense 50.9 (257)  /  53.7 (9) 52.2 (295)  /  51.3 (7)
3Pt % Defense 36.3 (315)  /  35.5 (6) 34.4 (253)  /  32.2 (1)
Off. Rebounds 10.3 (157)  /  8.0 (8) 9.0 (219)  /  8.3 (6)
Def. Rebounds allowed 21.2 (21)  /  21.3 (1) 25.7 (269)  /  25.5 (4)
Def. Rebounds 24.2 (261)  /  21.5 (9) 24.7 (179)  /  24.2 (6)
Off. Rebounds allowed 7.6 (19)  /  6.7 (2) 11.9 (336)  /  10.7 (7)
Total Rebounds 34.5 (231)  /  29.5 (9) 33.7 (205)  /  32.5 (6)
Total Rebounds allowed 28.8 (14)  /  28.0 (2) 37.6 (320)  /  36.2 (6)
Assists 13.2 (181)  /  10.5 (6) 11.0 (280)  /  9.0 (9)
Steals 4.6 (335)  /  5.3 (6) 6.2 (164)  /  4.7 (8)
Blocks 2.5 (256)  /  1.7 (7) 3.9 (72)  /  5.0 (1)
Best win (NET) @ UT Arlington (114) vs. Providence (78)
Worst loss (NET) vs. LB State (285) vs. CSUF (246)
Trend (D1 only)  Lost 4 of 5 Lost 3 of 4

UCSB - Long Beach State History
UCSB and Long Beach State have played 129 times dating back to 1952. The Gauchos have played Long Beach, which has a 69-60 all-time edge, more than any other opponent. The teams have split their match-ups each of the last two seasons with the road team winning every game and on Jan. 11 in the first meeting this year, Long Beach won 55-52 at the Thunderdome.

Head Coach
The winningest coach in LBSU history, Dan Monson has piled up 200 wins at LBSU and led Long Beach State to three Big West Championships, six top three finishes, three NIT appearances as well as a trip to the 2011-12 NCAA Tournament.  Monson’s success at Long Beach State has been rewarded with three Big West Coach of the Year awards, as well as back-to-back NABC All-District Coach recognition from 2010-11 and 2011-12. The conference coaching award following the 2011-12 season marked the fourth time that Monson has been recognized as a league’s top coach, previously winning the honor as the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 1998 following his first season at Gonzaga.

Probable Starters
  • G (14) Colin Slater, 6'1", 190 lbs, Junior, 11.5 Pts, 2.5 Reb, 2.0 Ast. A transfer from Tulane, he is 2nd-best 3-point % at .406 (4.1 attempts per game). Only 43% from two. Defensively below average. Scored just 2 points in 23 minutes at UCSB. Scored 12 pts Thursday at Riverside and had a career-high 28 vs. UC Davis.
  • G (31) Chance Hunter, 6'6", 190 lbs, Sophomore, 14.9 Pts, 5.2 Reb, 0.9 Ast. A transfer from Cerritos JC, he is LB's leading scorer and is also their best 3-point shooter at .434 (6.7 attempts per game). Has the highest usage on the team at 29.1%. Scored 16 points at UCSB and 20 points at Riverside.
  • G (3) Drew Cobb, 6'4", 205 lbs, Junior, 4.7 Pts, 3.6 Reb, 1.2 Ast. Just broke into the starting lineup. Not a threat offensively, he is considered to be a defensive stopper. The splits don't exactly bear that out. Expect him to guard Heidegger. Had 2 points in 18 minutes at UCSB, and 7 points at Riverside.
  • F (13) Romelle Mansel, 6'9", 230 lbs, Freshman, 4.1 Pts, 3.3 Reb, 0.7 Ast. A good compliment to Morgan (see below), although not one of the primary options offensively (usage 15.6%). Scored 6 with 4 rebounds at UCSB, and 8 and 5 at UC Riverside. Has 20 steals.
  • C (24) Joshua Morgan, 6'11", 195 lbs, Freshman, 8.2 Pts, 6.1 Reb, 1.1 Ast. Tops in the Big West in blocks at 52. Scored 10 points with 7 rebounds at UCSB, and 8 and 2 at Riverside. Leads team in effective FG% (.612), Player Efficiency Rating (19.4), Defensive Rebounding (17.0% of available def. rebs.), Total Rebounding (13.1% of available rebs.), Blocks (10.1% of all 2-point attempts), Win Shares (1.8), Win Shares per 40 minutes (.123), Defensive Box Plus/Minus (+4.4) and overall Box Plus/Minus (+4.8).
Key Reserves
  • G (1) Michael Carter III, 6'5", 190 lbs, Sophomore, 12.2 Pts, 3.0 Reb, 2.8 Ast. A transfer from Washington, he leads the team in assists and is 2nd on the team in scoring. Grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds vs. CSULA. Takes a lot of threes (4.1 attempts per game), but makes just 31% of them. Just 43.2 from two. Gets to the free throw line (4.1 attempts per game) and makes them (.839). Assist percentage is highest on team (22.7% of all baskets while on floor). Lost his starting job to Cobb, but still got 14 points in just 18 minutes at UCR.
  • C (32) Trever Irish, 7'0", 230 lbs, Sophomore, 2.0 Pts, 1.9 Reb, 0.4 Ast. The school's first 7-footer in 8 seasons. Averages 9 minutes per game. Has made just 43.5% of his shots.
  • G (2) Jordan Roberts, 6'8", 195 lbs, Junior, 4.2 Pts, 3.5 Reb, 0.9 Ast. Had 7 points in 20 minutes at UCSB, but earned just 9 minutes at Riverside. Averaged 8.4 ppg last season, but has lost time to the newcomers. Has the worst offensive box plus/minus (-5.8) of major players on the team.  Effective FG% is just .366, again the worst numbers among key LB players.
  • G (10) Max de Geest, 6'3", 185 lbs, Freshman, 3.8 Pts, 1.6 Reb, 1.2 Ast. From New Zealand, tends to shoot from three (18 attempts from two vs. 54 attempts from three). Only hitting .315 from three.
  • G (11) Jordan Griffin, 6'3", 165 lbs, Senior, 3.7 Pts, 0.8 Reb, 0.3 Ast. The lone senior, he is a strong outside shooter who is 16th on the school's career three-pointer list. He is 16-of-40 from three this season. Has the second-best effective FG% (.565) on the team. He is a very bad -4.5 in Defensive Box Plus/Minus. Was held scoreless at UCSB, and didn't score his last time out at Riverside.
Match-up overview:
The 49ers, I mean LBC, I mean The Beach has gone with the kids in 2019-20, and combine that with Long Beach's usual tough non-conference schedule the results have been poor. Still, Long Beach is very capable of beating anyone. In their opener, they lost by just 4 at UCLA. They took down Providence at the Wooden Legacy, and lost at USC by just 11. But Southern Utah won by 21 in the Pyramid, they lost by 22 at Seattle and by 18 at CSUN. Their two Big West wins: at UCSB and vs. conference leader UC Irvine. You really don't know which Long Beach team is going to show up from game to game.

Lately, the same Gaucho squad has been showing up. UCSB has allowed the opponents to shoot 50% or better in five straight games. Weaknesses have been exposed, and exploited, on most players on the team. The offense has been sloppy, suffering 17 turnovers at CSUN...many of the moving screen/charging variety. Max Heidegger has been sublime, but the rest of the team has struggled. JaQuori McLaughlin is still recovering from a groin injury that caused him to miss the home CSUN game, and the jury is still out on whether the re-integration of Heidegger into the lineup has disrupted what was working in December. Amadou Sow came on in the 2nd half at CSUN, but he's been prone to 1st-half foul trouble and struggles to recognize double teams and how to beat them. The starting lineup has been in flux as Coach Pasternack tries to find the right combination.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Defense. UCSB needs to get back in transition, and needs to hold teams under 50% shooting. That's not a high bar, but it has been lately.
  • Stay out of foul trouble. Sow in particular usually picks up a foul in the 1st minute of the game. Goes hand-in-hand with defense, but some of these fouls have been so silly. Pull up for the short jumper rather than take a charging call. Set the screen before rolling (guards need to be patient, too).
  • Balanced scoring. Heidegger scored 30 of UCSB's 67 points at CSUN. The bench got just 8.

DC2 trends: UCSB is a horrible 28.78 in its last five (the worst in the Big West), while Long Beach is 43.28 in its last 5 (overall 33.86). UCSB has failed to cover the spread in 5 straight games, and would have been 0-5 outright if not for a Mad Max Miracle 3 vs. UC Riverside. UCSB struggles with higher-tempo teams. They have been swept by CSUN (Pomeroy adjusted tempo = 70) and beaten by Rice (86), Long Beach (37) and Hawai'i (122). Then there's the 2nd time through the Big West stat: the margin of victory/defeat worsens 71% of the time in the Joe Pasternack era. My eeyore mood continues. Long Beach State wins 74-62.

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