The UCSB men’s basketball team will attempt to break its season high four-game losing streak tonight when they host UC Davis at the Thunderdome. Santa Barbara was without its best player in sophomore center Alan Williams for three of those four games and hopes Big Al’s presence can make the difference as the Gauchos try to regain lost momentum from before the injury.
UCSB enters tonight’s game with a 7-14 overall and a 3-7 mark in conference play. Davis, meanwhile, is 8-12 on the season and 4-5 in the Big West after losing against Pacific this past weekend.
“They’re a well balanced team,” Head Coach Bob Willams said. “They’re actually the team that’s on the rise.”
In his return to action against Irvine on Saturday, Big Al looked rusty in the first half but rebounded in a strong way in the second to finish with an impressive 22 point, eight rebound night for the Gauchos.
When the two teams met in Davis on Jan. 12, UCSB came away with a 66-59 victory in which Big Al recorded a monster night with 28 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. If UCSB hopes to outpace a dangerous Davis offense this time around, they might need another solid night from Williams.
Sophomore guard Corey Hawkins leads Davis and the Big West in scoring with 19.4 points per game. Last time out against Santa Barbara, Hawkins scored 23 points on an efficient 7-11 from the field. Earlier this season against Hawaii, Hawkins led the Aggies to a 93-82 victory by registering a career-high and school record 40 points.
“We’ve got to keep him under control,” Coach Williams said. “We can’t let him go off like he did at Hawaii. We have to be aware of where he is and not let him have easy looks.”
During the four-game losing streak, UCSB had a chance to win every game but came up short in each. The four losses came by a combined total of 15 points, the last two each by a two-point margin.
“It’s a big weekend for us right now,” Big Al said. “We’ve got to go out there and string some wins together [and] try to get some momentum for the end of the season.”
When UCSB previously faced Davis, sophomore guard T.J. Taylor was the only other Gaucho to score in double figures aside from Williams with 10 points. Santa Barbara will need to see plenty of scoring from junior guard Kyle Boswell and freshman forward Taran Brown this time around if it wants to beat Davis.
One of the major emphases for UCSB entering tonight’s game will be slowing down Davis’ outside game, as the Aggies are one of the top shooting teams in the conference. Davis ranks second in the Big West in free throw percentage, field-goal percentage and three-point percentage, highlighting the Aggies as a dangerous and efficient team from anywhere on the floor.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of February 7th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.