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Gauchos Pull Away from Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Second Half, Win 86-58

Ajay Mitchell (Photo by Joe Pasternack)
Ajay Mitchell (Photo by Joe Pasternack)

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team (3-1) used a strong second half showing to pick up its second consecutive win, 86-58 over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-4) on Wednesday night at the Thunderdome.

The win was UCSB's 20th consecutive victory at home, dating back to January 25, 2020.

The game was the second contest in the Cerebro Sports Cali Jam multi-team event. Senior forward Amadou Sow was named tournament MVP and freshman guard Ajay Mitchell earned a spot on the all-tournament team for their performances in the two games against Chicago State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

ON THE STAT SHEET

  • Sow led the Gauchos in points with 20 on 8-of-11 (72.7%) shooting and led in rebounds with 9.
  • Senior forward Miles Norris notched 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.
  • Mitchell racked up 10 assists on the night without turning the ball over once. Mitchell led all players with 28 minutes.
  • The Gauchos forced the Lions into committing 17 total turnovers, and the blue and gold turned them into 24 points, a +15 margin over Arkansas-Pine Bluff's nine points on giveaways.

HOW IT HAPPENED

First Half

  • Both teams struggled to keep possession of the basketball early on, as UCSB committed seven turnovers while Arkansas-Pine Bluff committed eight in the first half.
  • The Gauchos started to create some separation late in the first half by going on an 8-0 run to take the largest lead of the game at 33-26, but Arkansas-Pine Bluff hit back-to-back threes off of Gaucho turnovers in response to tighten the game back up.
  • Both teams were efficient on the offensive side of the ball as Arkansas-Pine Bluff shot 14-27 (51.9%) from the field while the Gauchos shot 13-27 (48.1%) from the field.
  • Ajare Sanni and Amadou Sow led the way for the Gauchos in the first half, each scoring 10 points while Shawn Williams and Kylen Milton led Arkansas-Pine Bluff in scoring, each with 8.

Second Half

  • The Gauchos started off hot, going on a 17-4 run on seven makes in nine attempts to begin the second half.
  • It was all about the bigs in the second half, as senior forward Robinson Idehen led all players in the second half with 11 points and Sow posted 10. Combined, the two missed just one shot in the second half.
  • The Gauchos closed out the contest by outscoring Arkansas-Pine Bluff 13-1 over the last 4:05 of regulation.
  • UCSB held the visitors to 23.1% shooting (6-of-26) in the second half, while posting a nearly 45-point swing the other way at a 64.5% clip on 20-of-31 shooting.

QUOTABLE

  • "They're a hard team to play, they take you out of everything you do, but I thought our guys responded terrifically in the second half - really competed, defended, and rebounded." - UCSB head coach Joe Pasternack on the team's performance in the second half.
  • "I don't think I've ever seen a freshman with as high of a basketball IQ [as Mitchell] that has the [added] ability of running a team [whilst facing] immense pressure. He's such a poised young man and plays like a seasoned veteran. I have all the trust in the world in him." - Pasternack on Mitchell's performance.

UP NEXT

  • The Gauchos will face UT-Arlington on Monday night as UCSB continues its five-game homestand. Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and live stats will be available on StatBroadcast.