The UCSB men’s basketball team might have found yet another option at guard in its 6’10” senior forward Jon Pastorek.

[media-credit id=16616 align=”alignright” width=”250″][/media-credit] In the 71-58 conference win against UC Irvine at the Thunderdome last night, Pastorek, who played center in lieu of injured junior Jaimé Serna, grabbed a season high of 10 boards and tallied five assists — one behind the total of UCSB senior point guard Justin Joyner.

“As long as he squares up and stays in balance, he’s an excellent passer,” said Head Coach Bob Williams, who also suggested that Pastorek could be a “point-center.”

Johnson and junior guard James Nunnally each scored 22 points in the win, which brought the Gauchos to 2-2 on the season and separated them from Irvine, who shared the same 1-2 record as UCSB heading into the game but dropped to 1-3 with the loss.

“When [Irvine’s] guards score, they win,” Williams said. “[But] we held their leading scorer to nothing in the first half.”

Although UCSB only allowed guard Darren Moore to score seven points after averaging 16.7 per game, Irvine managed to stay within 10 points of the Gauchos for most of the game, thanks to forward Eric Wise’s 18-point, 10-rebound double-double. However, the team was never able to overcome the 8-7 lead that UCSB took early in the first half. It brought the score to 51-47 with 6:08 to play, but a three-pointer from UCSB senior guard Jordan Weiner from the left side pushed the game out of reach.

“I wasn’t worried,” said Johnson, who was forced to the bench after obtaining his fourth personal foul when he was whistled for a technical with 9:47 remaining in the second half. “I knew my teammates would pick me up and they knew it, too.”

Johnson scored six points in the first half and his remaining 16 in the second after making five of his last eight field-goal attempts. Nunnally had 18 in the first and four in the second, but made all four of his field-goal attempts. While Johnson leads the conference in scoring, Nunnally remains a close second.

“Orlando’s starting to become a second-half scorer,” Williams said. “Nun’s a first-half scorer. That’s all right with me. We’ll take it.”

The team now turns its sights to UC Riverside, who will visit the Gauchos on Saturday night. Riverside lost its start player Kyle Austin in the offseason, but improved to 2-1 last night after beating Cal State Northridge 70-61. Long Beach State remains the Big West’s only undefeated team at 5-0, followed by 3-1 Cal Poly and the 2-1 Highlanders. UCSB is currently in fourth place in the conference after being predicted to finish the season in first place.

“Carrying the weight of those expectations has not necessarily been an easy thing for us,” Williams said. “What we’re trying to do is remove a little bit of that pressure and get ourselves to where we’re having more fun. We’ve got to get back to having fun … rather than living in the negative.”

Saturday’s game will tip off at 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.