Back in the Thunderdome, the UCSB men’s basketball team looks as comfortable as ever after winning three straight at home and finishing off non-conference play with a 109-47 monster victory over visiting Bethesda, the largest point differential in UCSB history.
The 109 points posted by UCSB is the most points by a Gaucho team since a 109-point performance on Nov. 30, 1985.
Senior forward Ami Lakoju and freshman standout Sekou Touré each contributed double-double performances in the win as six Gauchos scored in double-figures, securing the top spot in the Big West heading into conference play with an 11-3 overall record. Bethesda dropped its ninth straight to fall to 1-13 on the year.
In Lakoju’s first start of the season, the senior posted 16 points which tied a career-high mark while adding 11 rebounds for a season-high performance on the boards. However, during a night when the Chos’ most senior player popped off for a career performance, it was the young Gaucho talent that put on a show for the home crowd.
Freshman forward Amadou Sow, Lakoju’s frontcourt counterpart, continued to impress as he returned to the hardwood with a 14-point performance in 13 minutes while shooting 5-6 from the field. This followed his 21-point, 9 rebound night against University of San Francisco which earned him Big West Conference Athlete of the Week last Monday on December 31st.
Sow has been on a tear in his freshman season. Having started all 14 games for the Gauchos, he sits atop the Big West in field goal percentage shooting 58.2% and nabs 6.4 rebounds per game good for No. 7 in the conference.
Amadou Sow isn’t the only Prolific Prep product that has been mesmerizing for the Gaucho faithful to follow this season however. Sekou Touré has been premier off the bench for UCSB, and he continued to impress with 18 points and 11 rebounds, each career-high marks in the Bethesda clobbering.
Touré has the highest player efficiency rating in the Big West and has competed for the top spot in the NCAA the entire season while topping out at No. 5 in the country. While Touré poured in a magnificent performance off the bench, it was freshman Jay Nagle who stole the show in the second half.
Nagle, a sniper from deep, erupted for a career-high 20 points off the bench while shooting 6-12 from behind the arc.
The freshman forward was recruited at 6-foot-6 inches, but following a growth spurt over the summer now towers at 6-foot-8, and has displayed his impressive range with the No. 3 three-point percentage in the Big West splashing 46.2% from the perimeter.
The three Gaucho freshmen combined for 52 points and 20 rebounds in the seventh straight Thunderdome win as UCSB remains a perfect 7-0 at home this season.
Following an underdog win over Mid-Major No.10 University of San Francisco to catapult UCSB into first place in the Big West, the Gauchos have been earning mid-major top-25 votes while dominating throughout their non-conference schedule.
The Gauchos rank atop the Big West with 77.8 points scored per game while shooting a conference-best 48.1% on field goals. A +45 rebound margin in this last matchup also puts them at a +9.8 differential this season, another best in the Big West. With only 9 turnovers against Bethesda, and consecutive games with single-digit turnovers for the offense, the Gauchos also hold the lowest mark for giveaways in the conference heading into the second half of the season.
For the second straight year under Joe Pasternack, UCSB heads into Big West play with an 11-3 record whilst sitting in the No. 1 spot of the conference as it shifts attention to familiar Big West foes.
The Gauchos will open Big West play at home in the Thunderdome against the Cal Poly Mustangs for the most recent chapter on the highly-anticipated Blue-Green Rivalry on Wednesday, January 9 at 7 p.m.