UC Santa Barbara (11-19) at Pacific (19-12) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The 2013 Big West Conference Tournament gets underway as the No. 2 seed Pacific Tigers take on the No. 7 seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in a quarterfinal-round matchup at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday afternoon.
UCSB has won three straight, including its regular-season finale over UC Riverside, 56-46. That win, coupled with Cal State Fullerton's loss at Cal Poly, gave UCSB the No. 7 seed in the tournament. The Gauchos have appeared in the last three consecutive Big West Tournament finals.
Pacific won its season final last Saturday as well, coasting to a 71-51 home victory over Long Beach State. In addition to playing for a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers have extra incentive to win the Big West Tournament. This is the 25th and final season for the winningest coach in conference history -- Bob Thomason. Thomason, with 433 overall and 248 conference victories, is retiring at the end of the season. He is one of just five coaches to have won at least three Big West Tournament titles during his career. Jerry Tarkanian (UNLV, 7), Stew Morrill (Utah State, 4), Boyd Grant (Fresno State, 3) and current UC Santa Barbara coach Bob Williams (3) are the others.
The all-time series between these two squads is knotted at 54-54. This is the third straight season in which the Gauchos and Tigers are meeting in the conference tournament. Last season, the teams also played in the tournament's first game with Santa Barbara as the No. 3 seed the Tigers as the No. 6 seed. The Gauchos won that game by a score of 72-52. In 2011, No. 5 UCSB defeated No. 4 Pacific in the first round, 79-67. This season, the two teams split a pair of tilts, with each winning on its own court.
Alan Williams had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Kyle Boswell chipped in 12 points, including six during the pivotal final minutes, to help UC Santa Barbara to a 56-46 win over UC Riverside on Saturday night.As a team, UCSB made just 39.6 percent of its field goal attempts, but Riverside was even worse at 29.3 percent. Both teams hit just 5-of-19 shots from outside the three-point stripe (.263). In addition to his game-high point and rebound totals, Williams added five blocked shots, tying his career-high. The double- double was his 15th of the season. Michael Bryson tacked on 11 points and Taran Brown had six, along with seven rebounds and four assists, for the Gauchos.
Alan Williams leads the charge for the Gauchos, averaging a double-double with 17,6 ppg and 10.7 rpg. That rebounding total is tops in the conference. He is swatting 2.4 shots per outing for good measure, part the team's league-best 4.5 bpg. He is helped offensively by Kyle Boswell (13.2 ppg) and Taran Brown (11.0 ppg). On the season, the Gauchos are allowing opponents to shoot 42.0 percent overall, second-best in the conference. In the last eight games, however, that figure is even lower. During that span, UCSB's opponents have made just 148-of-416 field goal attempts (.356). The highest opponent's field goal percentage over that span was Cal State Northridge's 42.6 percent and six of the eight were held below 40.0 percent. In 30 games this season, UCSB has limited its opposition to below 40 percent 14 times.
Pacific secured the No. 2 seed in the Big West Conference Tournament with a 20-point home victory over Long Beach State last Saturday. With the win, Pacific tied a school record with its 13th home triumph of the season. Sama Taku led the Tigers with 14 points, while Colin Beatty added 10 points. The Tigers shot 44.4 percent from the field, including 9-20 (.450) from 3-point range. Pacific held the 49ers to 1-16 shooting from downtown. Taking advantage of 18 Long Beach State miscues, Pacific held a 21-11 edge in points off turnovers.
Lorenzo McCloud is the only Tiger averaging double-figures in scoring (11.4 ppg), though Travis Fulton and Sama Taku (both scoring 9.0 ppg) are right on the cusp. As a unit, they are averaging 67.9 ppg and giving up just 64.0 ppg, second-best in the Big West. Their scoring margin of +3.9 also ranks second in the conference.
Both teams have been playing quality defense lately, so expect a relatively low-scoring affair. Give the edge to the Tigers, who have extra motivation to keep the winning streak going for coach Thomason and give him at least another game to roam the sidelines.
GAME NOTES: The 2013 Big West Conference Tournament gets underway as the No. 2
seed Pacific Tigers take on the No. 7 seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in a
quarterfinal-round matchup at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday
FACTS & STATS: Site: Honda Center (18,336) -- Anaheim, California.
Television: FSN-PT. Home Record: UCSB 8-6, Pacific 13-2. Away Record: UCSB
3-13, Pacific 4-9. Neutral Record: UCSB 0-0, Pacific 2-1. Conference Record:
UCSB 7-11, Pacific 13-5. Series Record: Series is tied, 54-54.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 14, 3 p.m. (et)Predicted Outcome
Pacific 66, UC Santa Barbara 61