The UCSB men’s basketball team is riding the high tide of a three-game winning streak heading into tonight’s game with the University of Idaho.
The Gauchos (8-11 overall, 5-4 in the Big West) have played the best basketball of the season the past few games, and have succeeded in the most unlikely of places: winning games on the road.
Santa Barbara will also have the opportunity to gain some revenge on the Vandals (4-16, 1-8) after losing a tight battle, 68-67 in Moscow, Idaho. UCSB was reeling off a 75-74 home loss to Long Beach State when it was forced to travel to the Kibbie Dome, where the players performed at a lackluster level.
“We’re really upset that we lost to them, in fact it’s pissed us off,” sophomore point guard B.J. Ward said. “It was a heartbreaker. The only win they got against us was the only win they’ve gotten against a Division I team, and we just want to go home and continue our winning streak.”
UCSB has won 7-4 games in head-to-head competition vs. Idaho. The Gauchos have recently surged after overcoming an 11-point deficit at the Pyramid to snuff Long Beach State 78-71 and slamming Pacific 73-67 behind junior forward Mike Vukovich’s astounding 12-12 crescendo from the field, and career-high 27 points.
Senior forward Juliano Jordani talked about the importance of getting a victory over the Vandals.
“The fact is we want to prove to them that they shouldn’t have beaten us,” he said. “We’re looking for revenge and to get a win back from them.”
The Gauchos have been working all week on trying to stay focused and to continue playing solid basketball by working out the kinks in their army.
“We’ve been working on our press offense and getting outside to contain [Idaho’s] shooters,” Vukovich said.
The Vandals will come out with sharpshooter Adam Miller and swingman Chris Monroe, and UCSB must keep a lid on Idaho to take control from the beginning.
“As a team, we have a lot of momentum going into this week’s two games,” freshman forward Casey Cook said. “These are games we really should win.”