UC Riverside (6-24) at UC Santa Barbara (10-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Thunderdome (5,600) -- Santa Barbara, California. Television: None. Home Record: UC Riverside 5-9, UCSB 7-6. Away Record: UC Riverside 1-12, UCSB 3-13. Neutral Record: UC Riverside 0-3, UCSB 0-0. Conference Record: UC Riverside 3-14, UCSB 6-11. Series Record: UCSB leads, 25-7.
GAMES NOTES: With the No. 7 seed in the upcoming Big West Tournament in reach the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos will play host to the UC Riverside Highlanders in league action at the Thunderdome.
At this point all UC Riverside can do is play the spoiler as it has been eliminated for contention for one of the eight spots in the Big West Tournament. The Highlanders are a dismal 3-14 in league play, while the only team in the conference to have fewer than 10 wins overall (6-24). UC Riverside has just one win in the last 11 games but that victory did come against UCSB.
With a 66-50 win over Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night the Gauchos pulled into a tie with the Titans for seventh in the league standings. The Gauchos are just 10-19 overall and 6-11 in league action but with a win on Saturday or a loss by the Titans would give them the No. 7 seed. The win against Cal State Fullerton gave UCSB its first back-to-back wins since stringing two victories together in mid-January.
It wasn't pretty but it was still a win for UC Riverside when it dropped UCSB, 54-45, in the first meeting this season. The teams have traded victories in the last four meetings but UCSB has dominated historically with a 25-7 edge in the all-time series.
UC Riverside had a 14-point lead at halftime on the road against Cal Poly on Thursday but collapsed in the second frame to give up the 68-62 decision. After shooting a blistering 69.2 percent from the field in the first half the Highlanders managed just seven field goals on 28 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes.
The second half against Cal Poly was more akin to the Highlanders' offensive performance this season. They are the lowest scoring team in the Big West (59.4 pg) while ranking second to last in the league in assists (12.4 pg) and field goal percentage (.421). The Highlanders' woes can also be attributed to their inability to hold onto the ball as they lead the conference in turnovers per game (14.8 pg). Chris Patton (13.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Chris Harriel (10.4 ppg) are the only double figure scoring commodities on the roster. Patton has been the more reliable of the two as he shoots at a team-best 54.6 percent from the field while scoring at least 18 points in three of the last four games.
Alan Williams was at it again as he hung up a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead UCSB over Cal State Fullerton. The Gauchos had a massive 42-25 edge in rebounds in the contest, while also doubling the Titans up on second-chance points (20-10).
Williams (17.5 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.3 bpg) has been posting double-doubles all season with Thursday's effort his 14th of the year. The 6-foot-7 forward is leading the conference in rebounds by more than two boards per game, while also fitting among the top five players in the conference in blocks and points. Kyle Boswell (13.3 ppg) is a solid scorer who normally makes his contributions off the bench, while Taran Brown (11.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg) can also fill it up despite shooting just 36.6 percent from the field. Still as a team the Gauchos are second to last in the conference in both points (64.8 pg) and field-goal percentage (.421).
In the battle of two of the weaker offensive teams in the conference, having a player as dominant as Williams will be a huge advantage for UCSB.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Santa Barbara 70, UC Riverside 62
03/09 10:44:52 ET