GAME NOTES: Seeking just their second true road win of the 2012-13 campaign, the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara saddle up against the Cal State Fullerton Titans in the Big West Conference opener for both programs on Saturday night.
UCSB, which is 1-6 in away games, with its lone victory coming in overtime against Santa Clara (83-80) to kick off the month of December, is riding a two-game slide at the moment following a 56-40 setback versus Wyoming in Laramie eight days ago. For the Gauchos the loss, the second time in less than a month the team had tallied just 40 points against the Cowboys, was the third in the last four games overall.
As for the Titans, considered the team to beat in the Big West this season, they are currently enjoying a three-game win streak and are now one game over .500 because of the recent run of quality play. One of the top scoring teams in the country, Fullerton has tallied a combined 180 points in the last two games, thanks in part to an 87-65 victory over Hope International last weekend.
According to UCSB records, the team owns a 40-34 advantage in the all-time series with Fullerton, which dates back to 1977, although the teams both won on their home floors last season to earn a split.
Going up a tough defensive-minded program like Wyoming for the second time already, the Gauchos knew they'd have a tough time breaking through against the Cowboys and that's exactly how the meeting played out. Alan Williams tried to give the visitors some hope with his 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Kyle Boswell accounted for 13 points off the bench, but the problem was that outside of Williams the starters were a non-factor as they combined to shoot only 4-of-18 from the floor, the team finishing at a disappointing 34.9 percent overall. Scoring in double figures in all but one game so far this season, Williams (16.3 ppg) gives the Gauchos their best shot at victory even though they are scoring just 64.3 ppg. Taran Brown (12.7 ppg) and Boswell (11.8 ppg) bring some scoring punch as well, but not every time out.
Leading four players in double figures, Jared Brandon scored a career-high 20 points as he shot a near-perfect 10-of-11 from the floor in the win over Hope International. D.J. Seeley added 19 points and eight boards, followed by Kwame Vaughn with 18 points, eight boards and six assists, while Alex Harris tacked on 11 points for a team that shot 54.4 percent from the floor and held a 39-29 rebounding edge. Seeley, the team's leading scorer in conference play last season, is off to a strong start overall this year with his 18.8 ppg, adding 4.2 rpg and team highs with 45 assists and 27 steals. Vaughn checks in with another 18.3 ppg and like Seeley is someone who can do a little bit of everything from clearing rebounding (5.1 rpg) to handing out assists (42) in his 11 starts thus far.
UCSB has been awful on the road so far this season and unless something drastic happens, the trend should continue this weekend with the Titans opening conference play on a positive note.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Fullerton 69, UC Santa Barbara 63
12/29 10:43:26 ET
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