GAME NOTES: The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos will try to put an end to their season-long losing streak on Saturday night, as they play host to the Pacific Tigers in Big West Conference action at The Thunderdome.
Pacific had been one of the hottest teams in the Big West heading into its Thursday night bout with wins in seven of its last eight contests (including four straight), but it fell at Cal Poly, 67-62, to drop to just 2-6 away from home. Despite their poor road record, the Tigers are still well-established as one of the BWC's best teams at 13-9 and 7-3 in conference.
On the other side of things is a UCSB squad that has been far from impressive this season at 7-15 (3-8 Big West), and its struggles have been amplified in recent weeks with five consecutive losses. The Gauchos played host UC Davis on Thursday and came away with a disappointing 64-56 setback.
Pacific defeated UCSB, 80-62, in the first meeting this season back on Jan. 10, breaking a tie in the series to take a 54-53 advantage all-time. The triumph also snapped a four-game win streak for the Gauchos in the series.
Pacific led for much of its contest against Cal Poly a couple of nights back, including 42-37 with just under 11 minutes to play, but the Mustangs ripped off a 17-7 run to take control of the game and eventually hand the Tigers the five-point defeat. They were handicapped by a poor night shooting, both from the field (.389) and the foul line (.550). Travis Fulton did what he could to lift to his team to victory, shooting 4-of-7 from 3-point range on his way to a season-high 19 points, but no other Tiger reached double figures. On the season, Pacific's offense hasn't exactly stood out, as it ranks fifth in the league with 69.0 ppg, but it boasts one of the few worthy scoring defenses in the conference in allowing just 64.3 ppg (second in the league). Lorenzo McCloud provides senior leadership, tallying 11.3 ppg, 4.0 apg and less than two turnovers per contest. Sama Taku, Ross Rivera and Fulton all pour in between 8.5 and 8.8 ppg.
UCSB never had a chance its last time out against UC Davis, as it was outshot from the field, 48.9 percent to 34.9 percent. The team was especially off the mark from 3-point range, shooting just 5-of-27 from 3-point range. Alan Williams continued his outstanding season, tallying 15 points and 13 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the campaign. Kyle Boswell netted 14 points in the loss, while Michael Bryson put up 13 points and eight rebounds. Williams is one of the top forwards in the conference, shooting greater than 51 percent from the floor for 17.5 ppg while posting league-highs in both rebounding (10.0 rpg) and blocks (2.2 bpg). Boswell shoots 41.1 percent from 3-point range on his way to 13.1 ppg, and Taran Brown is in the midst of a stellar freshman campaign with 12.0 ppg and 5.8 rpg. As a team, only UC Riverside owns a worse scoring margin than UCSB (-4.4).
Even with Pacific's lackluster road record it is hard to support the Gauchos in this one considering how poorly they've played of late. Figure for the Tigers to get back on track with a hard-fought win.
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