Winners of Five in a Row, UCSB Hosts Omaha Tuesday Night at Thunderdome

Photo by David Hague
Photo by David Hague

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Upcoming Games
Game No. 9
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. 
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks

at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: BigWest.tv

Game No. 10
Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Montana State Bobcats

at MSU's Brick Breeden Fieldhouse - Bozeman, Mont.
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: BigSkyConf.com

This Week
UC Santa Barbara will play its final its final two games before a one-week break for final examinations. Tuesday's game against Nebraska-Omaha will be the Gauchos' last home game for two weeks. Following the game against the Mavericks, Santa Barbara will play a Saturday, Dec. 9 game at Montana State before returning to action at USC on Dec. 17 at 5:00 p.m.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter Tuesday's game against Omaha with a 6-2 record.  The 6-2 start is the program's best since the 2007-08 season when it started the year with a 7-1 record through eight games. That team ultimately went 10-1 before losing at top-ranked North Carolina. In 2016-17, the Gauchos were 1-7 through their first 10 games.

UCSB Extends Winning Streak to Five 
On Saturday, UCSB defeated the University of San Diego by a score of 67-57. The win was the Gauchos fifth in a row, their longest winning streak since the 2015-16 season when they won nine in a row, eight to end the regular season and then another in the first round of the Big West Tournament. In 2016-17, Santa Barbara never won more than one game in succession, which they did six times in the 6-22 season.

Pasternack Off to Best Start Ever
Joe Pasternack is off to the best start of any first-year head coach in UCSB history. Pastrnack's 6-2 record is one game better than the 5-3 mark that Jerry Pimm's team produced to open the 1983-84 campaign and two games better than Art Gallon's 4-4 record in 1957-58

After a November to Remember, UCSB Completes Sweep of WCC Opponents
In November, UCSB played seven games over an 18-day period in five different cities and three different time zones. In the end, the Gauchos finished 5-2 over that span with two of the wins coming against West Coast Conference opponents (at Pepperdine and at San Francisco). The two losses came against No. 9 Texas A&M and the ACC's Pittsburgh. On Saturday, UCSB opnened December with a 67-57 win over the University of San Diego, giving it a sweep of its three games against WCC opponents.

Gauchos Get Defensive in 67-57 Win Over San Diego
UCSB put together its best overall defensive effort en route to a 67-57 win over visiting University of San Diego on Saturday night. The Gauchos limited the Toreros to 36.2% shooting and the 57 points were a season-low for an opponent. They also forced 17 turnovers. Max Heidegger scored 21 points to lead Santa Barbara, with six of his points coming during a key 10-0 run in the second half that transformed a 2-point deficit into an insurmountable 8-point lead. He finished the game at 4-for-9 from beyond the three-point arc. Leland King II produced his third straight double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. King also added a career-high three steals. Marcus Jackson, a key component in the defensive effort, had 12 points, four assists and also added three steals. Jalen Canty matched King's rebound total with 10 as UCSB won the rebounding battle, 44-39. Another key to the victory was San Diego's problems at the free throw line where it made just 9-of-23 attempts.

The Opponents
The Gauchos and Nebraska-Omaha have played twice, each of the last two years. Last season, the Mavericks won  the season-opener for both teams at the Thunderdome, 74-60, and in 2015, Santa Barbara won the season-opener in Nebraska, 60-59. UCSB and Montana State have played 10 times in a series that began in 1972. The Gauchos hold a 9-1 all-time edge. The teams last met on Dec. 12, 2009 with the Bobcats recording a 76-64 victory in Bozeman. The last time Santa Barbara won a game in the series was on February 21, 2009, when it won a 78-72 overtime in game. 

The Gauchos at the Thunderdome
UCSB has opened the regular season with a 3-0 record at the Thunderdome. The Gauchos began the year by posting an 85-66 victory over North Dakota State on Nov. 11 and they have since recorded a Nov. 24 win over Prairie View A&M and a Dec. 2 victory over the University of San Diego.  In the last two years UCSB was just 5-8 and 6-5 at home respectively, a combined 11-13.

UCSB Away From Home 
The Gauchos have won three consecutive games away from home and are 3-2 when they play away from the Thunderdome, including 2-2 in true road games. UCSB's streak reached three when it posted a 79-72 win at San Francisco on Nov. 28. The Gauchos also won both games at the Progressive Legends Classic, defeating the host Pepperdine on Nov. 20, 92-84, and then beating Montana on Nov. 21 in a neutral court game, 80-73. Santa Barbara was 1-14 away from home in 2016-17, going 1-12 in true road games and 0-2 in neutral site games. 

Possible Starters - Quick Fact
F 1  Leland King II - Recorded double-double in 3 straight games...Averaged 18.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in last 3...Career-high 3 steals on Dec. 2 vs. USD.
G 2 Gabe Vincent - Has scored 10 or more in 5 of the last 7 games...197 career 3-pointers ranks 6th all-time and needs 1 to move into 5th.
F 5 Jalen Canty - Has at least 1 block in all 8 games and has 13 in the last 4...Scored 10 or more in 6 of 8 games...Has 2 double-doubles.
G 21 Max Heidegger - Scored 30 or more in 2 games and 20 or more in 6 of 8 games...First Gaucho with 30+ in 2 or more games since 2011-12.
G 55 Marcus Jackson - Has scored 10+ points in 4 of his 5 appearances...Hit 2 or more 3-pointers 4 times...Tied season-high 3 steals on Dec. 2 vs. USD.

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
F 0 Jarriesse Blackmon - Played 8 minutes on Dec. 2 vs. USD, his highest total since Nov. 17 at Texas A&M...Had season-high 7 rebounds on Nov. 15 at Pitt.
G 3  Clifton Powell, Jr. - Was a DNP on Dec. 2 vs. San Diego...Has totaled 5 minutes in the last 5 games with a trio of DNPs.
F 10 Maxwell Kupchak - Collected season-high 5 rebounds in season-high 8 minutes on Dec. 2 vs. USD...Has hit both of his firle goal attempts this season.
G 11 Brandon Davis - After playing 5 minutes over a 4 game span, played 8 minutes on Dec. 2 vs. USD...Has 10 assists, 4 steals and just 2 turnovers this year.
F 12 Alex Hart - Played 6 minutes on Dec. 2 vs. USD, his highes total in 4 games...Scoreless in his last 3 appearances.
G 13  Sam Walters - Has played in 2 of the first 8 games...Missed his only field goal attempt but had an assist at Texas A&M.
F 14  Ami Lakoju - Was scoreless in 3 minutes vs. USD...Has missed his last 4 field goal attempts...Scoreless in 4 straight games.
G 23 Christian Terrell - Missed Dec. 2 game against USD with the flu...Started the season's first 3 games ...Had season-high 5 rebounds on Nov. 28 at USF.
F 43 J.D. Slajchert - Has played in just 1 of 8 games this season...Logged 1 minute in the Nov. 17 game at Texas A&M.   

The Fab Five
UCSB enters Tuesday's game against the University of San Diego with four players averaging in double-figures and a fifth right on the cusp. Guard Max Heidegger leads the team at 23.8 points per game and he is followed, in order, by Leland King II (18.1 ppg), Jalen Canty (10..5 ppg), Marcus Jackson (10.4 ppg) and Gabe Vincent (9.9 ppg). The Gauchos have had those five players score in double-figures in the same game twice this season, on Nov. 28 at San Francisco and Nov. 20 at Pepperdine. The game at Pepperdine was actually the first opportunity for them to achieve the feat. Jackson missed the first three games of the season with a hip injury and returned for the game in Malibu. Last season, UCSB had five players score in double-figures in the same game just once, an 80-76 loss to Seattle University. In fact, the last time a Gaucho team had five players score in double-figures in a game more than once was in 2012-13 when it occurred twice.

In Search of a Bench
While all five starters are averaging in double-figures or very near double-figures, UCSB is still searching for some punch off the bench. Gaucho starters, including Christian Terrell's three starts in place of the an injured Marcus Jackson, have scored 557 of the team's 599 total points, 93.0%. In the last five games, since Jackson's return, UCSB starters have scored 366 of the team's 387 points, 94.6%. The leading "scorer" off of the Gauchos' bench is Ami Lakoju who has totaled 15 points, all of which were scored in the season's first four games. 

Jackson Remains Unbeaten as a Gaucho
After playing in UCSB's exhibition win over Fresno Pacific on Nov. 4, graduate transfer Marcus Jackson missed the first three games of the regular season with a hip injury. Jackson returned to action on Nov. 20 at Pepperdine and his return has coincided with the team's five-game winning streak. Coincidence? We think not. Jackson is averaging 10.4 points, 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game since his return.

Gauchos Get Defensive
After the first four games of the season, UCSB opponents had made 103-of-216 field goal attempts, 47.7%, and 30-of-77 three-point field goal attempts, 39.0%. The last four games have been a different story. In the last four games, Gaucho opponents have made 95-of-248 overall from the field, 38.3%, and 24-of-104 from beyond the three-point arc, 23.1%. UCSB has limited its last three opponents to below 40.0% shooting, including a season-best defensive effort of 35.5% in the Nov. 28 win at San Francisco. This marks the first time a Gaucho team has held three straight opponents under 40.0% shooting since they did so six straight times in the midst of a nine-game winning streak in 2015-16.

A Right, a Left, a Right, a Left...
Max Heidegger is leading the Big West Conference in scoring at 23.8 points per game. averaging 23.8 points per game. Leland King II is second on the team and third in the conference at 18.1 points per game. As a duo, either Heidegger and King has led UCSB in scoring in all eight games and they are have combined for 335 points, an average of 41.9 per game. If Heidegger and King averaged 40 points per game as a tandem and the Gauchos play 29 games, they would combine to score approximately 1,160 points, a figure that would be the second most in school history. Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally combined for 1,194 in 2010-11.

A One-Two Rebound Punch Too  
Leland King II and Jalen Canty are giving UCSB a potent 1-2 rebounding punch. King (9.6 rpg) and Canty (8.3 rpg) are ranked second and third in the Big West respectively and their combined average of 17.9 is easily the top combined average of any two teammates in the league. Finally, each player has had 10 or more three times this season.