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Losers of two straight and seven of the last eight games, the UCSB men’s basketball team could not have asked for a nonconference game at a better time. The Gauchos will host Sacramento State on Saturday as part of the annual BracketBusters games.
UCSB enters the matchup with an 8-17 overall record on the season, while Sacramento State has a 12-12 mark on the year. With only eight players healthy for Saturday’s game, Santa Barbara will try to rebound from a multitude of injuries and get back to winning.
“I think it’s really good for us just to get a chance to get some wins under our belt,” sophomore center Alan Williams said. “Hopefully we can get this win Saturday and keep the momentum going until the end of the season.”
Santa Barbara fell 54-45 on Wednesday night to UC Riverside, its second straight loss and fourth straight defeat on the road. The Hornets, meanwhile, are also losers of two straight games entering Saturday’s contest at the Thunderdome.
“We’re going to use this as an opportunity as a prep game just for the next games coming up, and obviously we’re going to try to get the win too,” freshman forward Taran Brown said. “We all need to get together at a time like this, get our heads right and just keep grinding through it.”
In order for UCSB to win, they will have to improve upon its recent shooting performances as the Gauchos shot under 26 percent from the field against Riverside. Big Al led UCSB with 15 points and 12 rebounds but was only 4-18 from the field.
“It all comes down to poor shooting,” Head Coach Bob Williams said. “During the game, you shoot the ball at  percent, you’re going to have a hard time beating anybody. If you throw on top of that turning the ball over … it still makes it difficult when you do those things.”
Senior forward John Dickson leads Sac. State with 13.3 points per game and is second on the team with 5.8 rebounds per game. A key to the game will be how the depleted Gauchos slow down Dickson in the paint.
With only eight players available to play during their last two games, the Gauchos have struggled with injuries all season. There is an outside chance that junior guard Kyle Boswell, the team’s best shooter, could return by Saturday from a shoulder injury, but the odds are still unlikely.
“Is our confidence shaken at this time? Sure, we’re not playing very well,” Coach Williams said. “I think it’s a residue of how beat up we’ve been and that we’ve really been holding it together with different pieces every game and different guys. It’s a house of cards and it can tumble, and unfortunately [Wednesday] night, offensively, it just tumbled.”
Saturday’s BracketBusters game against Sacramento State is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.