Winners of 6 Straight, 11 of 12, Gauchos Host Long Beach State Saturday Night

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

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Upcoming Games
Game No. 17
Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Long Beach State 

at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
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Game No. 18
Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020 at 10:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Univ. of Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors 

at UH's Stan Sheriff Center - Honolulu, Hawai'i
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UCSB Host Rival Long Beach State in First Big West Home Game
UC Santa Barbara and Long  Beach State have played more than any other Big West Conference opponents and on Saturday, the teams will renew their rivalry that dates back to 1952. The Gauchos and Long Beach have met on 128 occasions, including three consecutive Big West Tournament championship games from 2010-12.

Gauchos Picked to Finish 2nd in the Big West
UCSB was picked to finish second in the 2020 Big West Conference regular season standings, in the annual poll of the league's media in October. The Gauchos finished with a total of 256 points and 15 first-place votes, second to defending champion UC Irvine, which also received 15 first-place votes but totaled 258 points. Cal State Northridge was picked third with 202 points, while Hawai'i and Cal State Fullerton rounded out the top-five with 155 and 152 points respectively. The only other first-place vote went to UC Davis, which was picked to finish eighth. 

The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter its Saturday game against Long Beach State with an overall record of 11-4, a Big West record of 1-0 and a six-game winning streak. Going further back, since opening the year with a 1-3 record, the Gauchos have won 11 of their last 12 games. The six consecutive victories have come at Idaho State (74-68 in OT on Dec. 16), vs. Southern University (77-68 on Dec. 20), vs. Merrimack College (68-50 on Dec. 22), at Louisiana-Lafayette (85-77 on Dec. 29), vs. Westmont College (87-66 on Jan. 2) and at Cal Poly (63-45 on Jan. 8).

UCSB on Best Runs Since 2018-19, 1988-89
The Gauchos enter Saturday's game against Long Beach State with their longest winning streak of the season, six-games in a row. The six-game streak is the program's longest since it also won six in a row from late-December to mid-January last season. Additionally, UCSB has won 11 of its last 12 games overall, the best record over a 12-game stretch since the 1988-89 team began the year by going 11-0 and 15-1. The only loss over the last 12 games was a 62-61 defeat at Southern Utah on Dec. 14. 

Gauchos Get Defensive, Top Cal Poly to Open Big West Play, 63-45
JaQuori McLaughlin scored 15 points and Amadou Sow tallied 13 to lead visiting UCSB past Cal Poly in the Big West Conference opener for both teams on Wednesday night. The Gauchos jumped out to a 4-0 lead to start the game and never trailed as they defeated the Mustangs for the 12th time in their last 13 meetings. Santa Barbara's win was due in great part to its defense as it allowed season-lows for points  at 45 and field goal percentage at 28.3%. UCSB also had a season-high nine steals, including a career-high-tying four by Devearl Ramsey and three by McLaughlin. Robinson Idehen also recorded a career-high four blocked shots and Ramsey collected a career-high eight rebounds. In the win, the Gauchos also made 7-of-14 shots from three-point range, their second-best mark of the season. Brandon Cyrus and Matt Freeman each added eight points with Sékou Touré and Ramsey scoring six.

UCSB's Jan. 30 Game at CSUN Moved to 8:00 p.m. for ESPNU
The UCSB at CSUN game on Jan. 30, originally scheduled for 7:00 p.m., has been moved to 8:00 p.m. to accommodate ESPNU. The Gauchos and Matadors were picked to finish second and third in the Big  West Conference's preseason media poll this season.

UCSB's Possible Starters (This is purely a guess.)
2 Matt Freeman F 6-10 220 Gr. Made 2 3-pointers on 1/8 at Cal Poly and has made 2 or more 9 times and at least 1 in 14 games.
3 JaQuori McLaughlin G 6-4 190 Jr. Made 6-of-7 3-pointers in last 2 games, 85.7%...Has scored 10+ points in 11 of last 12 games.
4 Devearl Ramsey G 6-0 185 Jr. Recorded career-high 8 rebounds and tied career-high with 4 steals on 1/8 at Cal Poly.
11 Brandon Cyrus G 6-5 190 Jr. Collected 4 or more rebounds in 3 straight games and 5 of the last 7.
12 Amadou Sow F 6-9 235 So. Scored in double-figures in back-to-back games for first time since 12/3 and 12/7.

UCSB's Possible Reserves (Again, purely a guess.)
0 Sékou Touré G 6-5 185 So. Scored 6 or more points in four straight games...Tied season-high with 11 on 1/2 vs. Westmont.
1 Roberto Gittens G 6-5 220 Jr. Has 5 assists and just 1 turnover in 86:25 this season.
5 Jay Nagle F 6-8 205 So. Hit only 3-point attempt on 1/8 at Cal Poly and has had at least 1 in 10 games.
14 Jakov Kukic F 6-10 230 Fr. Native of Croatia, was a DNP in the first 16 games.
21 Max Heidegger G 6-3 180 Sr. Has missed the last 10 games and remains day-to-day.
35 Robinson Idehen F 6-10 230 Jr. Blocked a career-high 4 shots on 1/8 at Cal Poly...Averaging 6.7 rpg in the last 4 games.
40 Andrew Pickles F 6-7 225 Sr. Senior has battled back issues and has yet to play.

The Opponents
UCSB and Long Beach State have played 128 times dating back to 1952. The Gauchos have played Long Beach, which has a 68-60 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. UCSB and Hawai'i have officially played 23 times with Santa Barbara holding a 12-11 all-time edge. Last season, the Gauchos cruised to a 75-54 win on Oahu and a 79-61 victory at the Thunderdome. Overall, they have a three-game winning streak against the Rainbow Warriors.

The Gauchos at Home
The Gauchos are 7-1 at home in 2019-20 with wins over Jackson State, Menlo College, Portland State, Grambling, Southern University, Merrimack and Westmont College. The lone home loss came on Nov. 16 to Rice and it ended the program's 14-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents. UCSB has gone 32-6 at home in Joe Pasternack's two-plus seasons.  

The Gauchos on the Road
The Gauchos are 5-3 on the road this season and since losing their first two road games – at UCLA and at Oregon State – they have won five of their last six.  UCSB won its first road game this season on on Dec. 3 at Cal State Bakersfield.  On Dec. 7, the Gauchos won at UT-Arlington, but on Dec. 14, they dropped a game at Southern Utah. Santa Barbara won its last three road games, a Dec. 16 overtime victory at Idaho State,  a Dec. 29 win at Louisiana-Lafayette and then a win on Jan. 8 at Cal Poly to open Big West play. During Joe Pasternack's 2+ seasons, UCSB has gone 21-15 in true road games and 26-17  in all games away from home.

Assistance Begins at Home
Whether anyone will admit it or not, college basketball road teams generally get short changed when it comes to assists, but with UCSB the difference between home and road assist totals is pretty extreme. In eight road games, the Gauchos have 81 assists on 187 made baskets, 10.1 per game with assists on 43.3% of their makes. In home games, they have totaled 144 assists on 231 baskets, 62.3%, an average of 18.0 per game. Overall, Santa Barbara has 225 assists on 418 makes, 53.8%, and an average of 14.1 per game. 

Sow Named to Lou Henson Award Watch List
UCSB sophomore forward Amadou Sow was named to the Lou Henson Award Watch List. The Lou Henson Award is presented annually to the nation's top Division I mid-major player. In 2018-19, 6-foot-9 Sow had one of the finest freshman seasons in Gauchos' history and was named Second Team All-Big West. He is one of just eight underclassmen on the list of 50 players. He is currently averaging 14.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game while shooting 54.6% overall, 36.4% from three-point range and 76.1% from the free throw line.

Playing the Percentages
Since a stretch of five straight games when it shot 42.6% or less from the field, UCSB has started to find its shooting range, shooting 49.0% or better in five straight games, including the last four at or over 50.0%. Prior to the current four-game stretch, the Gauchos had made 278 of their 613 field goal attempts, 45.4%, by going 140-of-265 in the last five games, 52.8%, they have lifted their overall percentage on the season to 47.6%.

Two-Point Awesomeness
UCSB is the best shooting team in the Big West Conference at 47.6%, but it's not because of its prowess shooting three-pointers. Despite making 7-of-14 three-point attempts on Wednesday at Cal Poly, the Gauchos are seventh in the league in three-point field goal percentage at 34.1%, but their percentage from inside the three-point arc is an outstanding 54.6%. Santa Barbara has hit 315 of its 577 two-point field goal attempts through the season's first 16 games. Robinson Idehen leads the team at 68.4% overall and 69.6% from two-point range. 

Gauchos Continue Rebounding Roll 
UCSB is outrebounding its opponents by a margin of +7.1 per game for the season, and since being outrebounded on Nov. 16 by Rice, the Gauchos have been on a rebounding roll. They have outrebounded 12 of their last 13 opponents, the only exception being a 39-34 deficit on Dec. 7 at UT-Arlington. In the last 13 games, Santa Barbara has a rebound margin of +112, an average of +8.6 per game. The Gauchos have outrebounded seven consecutive opponents by an average of +8.9 per game. 

Gauchos Getting Defensive
After a run of three consecutive games allowing its opponents to shoot 51.9% or better, UCSB has settled in on the defensive end. The three-game span in November, against Rice, Oregon State and Menlo College, saw the opposition make 86-of-160 field goals overall, 53.7%. In the last 11 games, 10 of which have been wins, the Gauchos held their opponents to 242-of-584 from the field, 41.4%, and no opponent over that span shot better than 47.3%. In the last 11 games opponents have totaled 692 points, 62.9 points per game as opposed to an average of 73.0 per game in the first six games of the season. In its last game, a Big West win at Cal Poly, Santa Barbara allowed the Mustangs to make just 28.3% of their field goals, including 22.7% in the second half, and score a mere 45 points. Both figures were season-low marks for an opponent. Finally, 10 of the last 11 opponents have been limited to 70 points or less.