The UCSB men’s basketball team returns home this week with hopes of securing a first round bye in the Big West Tournament.

The Gauchos (16-10 overall, 7-5 in the Big West) will host Pacific (11-16, 5-7 Big West) tonight with a chance to clinch at least a fourth place finish in the conference. The Gauchos will need some help to finish higher than fourth, but a win against Pacific would go a long way towards putting the team in position to make a run at the Big West title.

“Our main goal has always been to win the [Big West] championship and we want to play our best basketball going into the tourney,” senior guard Cecil Brown said. “Pacific pounds it inside and they have some really good spot up shooters who complement the inside guys, so it’s going to be a tough game.”

UCSB beat Pacific 70-62 in January behind 27 points from junior guard Alex Harris. The Gauchos almost let the first meeting slip away in the game’s final moments, but clutch free throw shooting down the stretch secured the victory. Harris leads the Big West in scoring at 20.8 points per game, to go along with 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Junior forward Chris Devine leads the Gauchos in rebounding with 6.7 per game, in addition to 14.8 points per game. Harris and Devine have combined for 926 points this season, just 88 points short of the school single-season record for two players.

Seniors Glenn Turner and Brown have both recovered from preseason injuries to regain their spots in the starting lineup. After successful, but injury-marred careers, the duo will play their final home games this weekend.

“We definitely want to send our seniors out with a bang,” Harris said. “We’re preparing well for [this week’s games] and we’re extremely confident.”

Pacific has dominated the Big West for years, but the team is suffering a down year as it rebuilds following some key graduations. Sophomore forward Anthony Brown leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Without a go-to scorer, the Tigers depend on an expanded rotation in which 10 different players average at least 10 minutes per game.

The Gauchos set a school record for road wins this season, but the Thunderdome has been a haunted house at times for a team that is only 6-6 at home. A win against either Pacific or Cal State Northridge (14-14, 5-7 Big West) would assure a first round bye for the Gauchos, meaning they would need to win three games rather than four to win the Big West title.

“I think that anybody can go on a three game winning streak in the [Big West] tournament,” Head Coach Bob Williams said. “The top four will all have a good chance.”

Tonight’s game will tip off at 7 in the Thunderdome. Saturday’s game has been moved from 7 p.m. to 4 p.m. to accommodate Fox Sports, which will televise the game.