Pacific (11-16) at UC Santa Barbara (16-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 1st, 10 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thunderdome (6,000) -- Santa Barbara, California. Television: None. Home Record: Pacific 8-7, UCSB 9-3. Away Record: Pacific 3-9, UCSB 7-6. Neutral Record: Pacific 0-0, UCSB 0-0. Conference Record: Pacific 6-8, UCSB 10-4. Series Record: Pacific leads, 54-51.
GAME NOTES: The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara try to add to their Big West Conference win total tonight as they host the Pacific Tigers tonight in the Thunderdome.
Entering the week, UCSB was tied with Cal State Fullerton for second place in the league standings at 10-4, trailing only Long Beach State which was a perfect 14-0. Since January 22, the Gauchos have lost a total of just two games, those setbacks coming against the Titans and 49ers, so other than that UCSB has been taking care of business. Last Saturday, the team won for the fourth time in five games with a 68-60 triumph over Cal Poly.
As for the Tigers, they are stuck in the middle of the Big West standings with a mark of 6-8 after suffering a narrow 69-68 loss to Fullerton a week ago. The setback was the second in the last three games for a Pacific group that will be closing out the regular season on Saturday at Cal Poly.
The Gauchos grabbed a 56-53 win in the first meeting of the season in late January, which means the all-time series now favors Pacific by a count of 54-51.
Pacific led by double figures a couple of times against Fullerton last week, but when it counted most the Tigers lost their bite and were sent to the loss column yet again by a league foe. Ross Rivera led four Tigers in double figures with 17 points as he knocked down all but one of his 14 free throws, while Travis Fulton logged his third double-double of the campaign with 14 points and 10 boards. Khalil Kelley was responsible for 12 points and Markus Duran 10 for the hosts. Rivera leads the team in scoring with his 11.3 ppg and the only other double-digit scorer at the moment is Lorenzo McCloud with 10.8 ppg, although he's been dealing with a sprained ankle and is listed as questionable for this meeting. Shooting only 40.3 percent from the field, the Tigers are averaging just 63.7 ppg on the campaign, but they are making things interesting by limiting the competition to 65.9 ppg at the same time.
James Nunnally scored a game-high 20 points as UCSB registered the eight-point win over Cal Poly last weekend at home. Also scoring in double figures for the Gauchos was Orlando Johnson who dropped in 16 points and in the process became the school's all-time leading scorer. Johnson entered the night with 1,694 points in his career and needed just three to surpass Alex Harris (2004-08), knocking down a three-pointer less than four minutes into the meeting to take over the all-time scoring lead for the Gauchos, doing so in less than three full seasons. Packing a heavy-duty scoring punch, Johnson is one of the top scorers in the Big West with his 19.8 ppg, shooting a solid 40.2 percent from three-point range, while Nunnally checks in with another 15.2 ppg, which means the two of them account for a huge chunk of the unit's 72.5 ppg. From a defensive standpoint, the Gauchos are holding the competition to 67.5 ppg as those opponents shoot just 40.2 percent from the floor.
As long as Nunnally and Johnson are hitting their marks, there's no reason to think this won't be a double-digit win for the Gauchos at home tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Santa Barbara 71, Pacific 60
03/01 10:32:52 ET