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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