Looking to end a two-game losing streak, the UCSB men’s basketball team travels north to face San Francisco tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. This will be the first of a nine-game stretch in which the Gauchos play eight times away from home.
Losses to No. 14 Cal and Oregon St. have Santa Barbara at 1-2 overall through three games. Despite only playing one game at home thus far, the Dons have gotten off to an impressive 3-1 start to the season.
Establishing a flow on the offensive end will be one of the keys for the Gauchos at this early point in the season as they look to replace their offensive focal point from the last three seasons in Alan Williams. While they went 5-2 without Big Al last year, they haven’t found as much success this season, already matching their loss total in games without him and shooting just 36.2 percent overall and 23.4 from three-point range as a team.
The starting backcourt of reigning Big West Freshman of the Year Gabe Vincent and Eric Childress have struggled, with 25.8 and 31.3 percent marks overall, respectively.
Senior guard Michael Bryson is the team’s top scorer, averaging 18.5 points a game. He has spent nearly every minute on the court after missing the first game due to suspension, leading the way at 38 minutes per game.
Senior forward John Green has stepped nicely into his role as the No. 2 offensive option, being the only Gaucho to record double-digit scoring numbers through the first three games and averaging 16.7 per contest. He has been UCSB’s best rebounder, averaging 7.7 a game, two more than starting center Sam Beeler.
Beeler is coming off an impressive game against Oregon State in which he recorded the first double-double of his career. It will be very beneficial to the guard-heavy Gauchos if they can establish Beeler as an inside presence. While the team has struggled with shooting efficiency, the 6’10” senior has gone 9-12 over the last two games.
San Francisco has already notched a couple of close wins this season, most recently a 58-57 victory over UC Riverside on Saturday on a game-winning layup by senior guard Tim Derksen with two seconds left.
The Dons are led by Devin Watson, who scored a career-high 27 points in the win over the Highlanders. His 19.5 points per game is tops on the team, but he has been able to put up big numbers thanks to his average of over six free throw makes per game.
After putting up 11 points and 13 boards on Saturday, Derksen has two double-doubles through four games. He is the team’s second leading scorer at 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds a night.
Sophomore forward Chase Foster has been knocking down the long ball this season, shooting 47.4 percent from three to give him 8.8 points per contest.
The Gauchos will look to end their two-game skid tonight at 7:30 at the Sobrato Center in San Francisco.