While the Gauchos are streaking toward the top of the Big West standings, they’ll take a break from conference action tonight to participate in the ESPNU Bracket Busters series with a game at former league foe Utah State.
UCSB (20-6 overall, 9-4 in the Big West) continues its road trip with its first visit to Logan, Utah since 2005. The Gauchos have been on the road since last Saturday’s win over UC Davis, and tonight’s matchup should be another tough one, with the Aggies (18-9, 8-4 in the Western Athletic Conference) likely to take advantage of their rowdy home crowd. During its time in the Big West, Utah State was known as a school with a crazy crowd, with their fans regularly making the long trip to Anaheim to provide an intimidating presence at the Big West Tournament.
“We know the crowd’s going to be loud, and they always have great fans,” senior guard Alex Harris said. “We’ve been good on the road this season, though; we seem to come together as a team when we’re on the road.”
The Aggies are led by senior guard Jaycee Carroll, who averages 22.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Carroll is one of the top shooters in the country, and he’s one of the few players that UCSB has played this season with a legitimate shot at the NBA.
“[Carroll] is a phenomenal shooter, and he’ll be a tough matchup for us as a team,” Harris said.
The Gauchos are led as always by Harris, who crossed the 500-point threshold for the second consecutive season with his 17-point performance in Wednesday night’s victory over Pacific. Harris is rapidly moving up the UCSB career scoring list, and he needs just six points to move past Mark Hull or second place on the all-time list.
Just by looking at previous games, UCSB should be the favorite in tonight’s matchup. The Aggies dropped an 83-69 decision to Cal Poly earlier this season, a team that the Gauchos have handily defeated twice. Utah State also got blown out by a UC Irvine squad that UCSB has hung tough with on two occasions this season.
Tonight’s game will be broadcast on ESPNU in a rare national television appearance for the Gauchos. Opening tip off is at 6 p.m.