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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