UC Santa Barbara (5-9) at Pacific (7-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Spanos Center (6,150) -- Stockton, California. Television: None. Home Record: UCSB 4-2, Pacific 4-2. Away Record: UCSB 1-7, Pacific 1-4. Neutral Record: UCSB 0-0, Pacific 2-1. Conference Record: UCSB 1-2, Pacific 1-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 53-53.
GAME NOTES: The Pacific Tigers open up a brief two-game homestand on Thursday night, as they welcome the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara to the Spanos Center for a Big West Conference bout.
UCSB's season has been largely a struggle. Following back-to-back wins in mid- November, it has slid into a prolonged slump, having lost seven of its last 10 games.
After winning their league opener at home over UC Irvine, the Gauchos fell behind by double-digits at intermission against Long Beach State last Saturday and never recovered, suffering a 77-70 defeat. Even though they allowed LBSU to hit greater than 54 percent of its total shots, the Gauchos had a solid night shooting themselves, making 46.2 percent of their field goal attempts, including 9-of-21 from 3-point range. Alan Williams led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds, but he was also a detriment with six turnovers. Michael Bryson scored 15 points, Kyle Boswell added 14, Taran Brown netted 11, and T.J. Taylor tallied eight points to go with nine assists in the setback.
Pacific has been inconsistent on its way to a 7-7 record, but it is currently on the upswing, having won two of its last three. It has also been solid at the Spanos Center this season, posting wins in four of six matchups.
The Tigers hit the road last week and came away with their first conference win of the season by defeating UC Davis, 74-64, overcoming a halftime deficit to do so. They put together one of their best shooting performances of the season in the victory, draining 52.1 percent from the field, and while they were just 65.5 percent at the foul line, they attempted 29 free throws. Sama Taku was the catalyst with 20 points and a career-high eight rebounds, while Travis Fulton (13 points) and Ross Rivera (12 points) were also impressive.
After 106 meetings, the series between these two programs is deadlocked at 53-53. The Gauchos have won the last four meetings.
On the season, UCSB is one of just four Big West teams with a negative scoring margin (minus-4.9), putting up just 66.4 ppg while allowing 71.3 ppg. Williams is one of the league's most improved players. After averaging fewer than seven points per game a year ago, he ranks sixth in the league in scoring with 17.1 ppg, and he is first in rebounding with 10.1 ppg, all while shooting greater than 50 percent from the floor. Brown (13.5 ppg) and Boswell (12.5 ppg) are both potent from long range, combining to hit just under six 3-pointers per game at a 40 percent clip.
Pacific has actually been a strong shooting team, ranking second in the conference with a .473 field goal percentage, but that has only resulted in a modest 68.1 ppg. Although McCloud is the only player to score in double-digits on a nightly basis with 11.8 ppg, the Tigers rely on a deep rotation of players, with nine guys averaging at least four points per contest. McCloud also hands out a team-high 3.6 apg, while Taku's modest 4.1 rpg is tops on the squad.
UCSB's inconsistencies have not resulted in very good play on the road, as it has lost seven of eight away from Santa Barbara. Pacific has been far from spectacular, but it should do enough in this matchup to move to 2-1 in conference play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pacific 70, UC Santa Barbara 63
01/10 10:36:58 ET