Although the Big West Tournament is right around the corner, the UCSB men’s basketball team has more important things than standings to worry about with a game against first-place Pacific on tap tonight.
The Gauchos (13-12 overall, 5-7 in the Big West) tip off their final road trip of the regular season tonight at 7 at the Spanos Center. With wins in six of its last seven games and four of its last five on the road, UCSB looks prepared for the challenge.
Coming off of an 81-71 win over UC Riverside in their final home game of the season, the Gauchos have put together one of the best second-half records in the Big West, moving to fifth place after starting the conference season 1-6.
Pacific has won nine of their last 10 and eight straight in the Big West. When the Tigers visited the Thunderdome Jan. 28, they took home a 65-53 win, thanks to 20 points from senior forward Christian Maraker.
An almost unstoppable presence in the post, Maraker is the league’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, averaging 8.7 boards and 17.3 points per game. Santa Barbara’s ability to contain Maraker will be integral in determining tonight’s outcome.
UCSB’s recent success has been sparked by a lineup change bringing junior forward Glenn Turner and senior guard Michael Chambers in as starters. Chambers has started seven straight, averaging 7.1 points in those games, while Turner has cleaned the glass, averaging 8.6 rebounds per game over the past nine.
With Turner and Chambers starting, UCSB has gotten big production off the bench from senior forward Cameron Goettsche and sophomore guard Alex Harris. The two have combined to score 118 points off the bench over the past seven games. Tonight, the Gauchos need quality minutes from their non-starters to counter the play of Maraker and Pacific’s duo of senior guards Johnny Gray and Mike Webb, who average 14.6 and 10.8 points per game, respectively.
UCSB will look for senior guard Cecil Brown and sophomore forward Chris Devine to continue their consistent play against the Tigers. Brown leads Santa Barbara with 14.4 points per game, followed closely by Devine’s 12.4. The two have led the Gauchos in scoring in all but five games this season.