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Men's Basketball

UC Santa Barbara To Square Off Against Florida In NCAA Tournament Second Round

Files associated with this release:
Men's Basketball Release No. 19

Links associated with this release:
NCAA Tournament Interactive Bracket

3/13/2011

UC Santa Barbara earned the No. 15 seed in the Southeast Region, drawing second-seeded Florida in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.  The Gauchos and Gators will tip at 3:50 p.m. (PDT) on Thursday, March 17 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.  The game will be televised by TBS.

The winner of the UCSB-UF game will meet No. 7 UCLA or No. 10 Michigan State on Saturday for a trip to the Sweet 16 in New Orleans, La.

The Gauchos appear in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in program history.  It is the first time UCSB has made back-to-back trips to the NCAA's.  In 2010, UCSB received a No. 15 seed and fell 68-51 to second-seeded Ohio State in first round action at Milwaukee, Wis.

UCSB's four previous (1988, 1990, 2002, 2010) NCAA appearances have resulted in a 1-4 record all-time.  The Gauchos upended Houston in the 1990 Southeast Region First Round.

This is the first meeting between UCSB and Florida.  An at-large selection from the Southeastern Conference, the Gators are making their 14th NCAA Tournament appearance overall.  Florida (26-7, 13-3), the SEC Eastern Division regular season champion, lost to Kentucky in the championship game of the SEC Tournament on Sunday.

UCSB (18-13, 8-8) captured the conference's automatic bid to the 68-team tournament field by virtue of winning the ampm Big West Tournament at Honda Center.  The fifth-seeded Gauchos defeated No. 4 Pacific (79-67) in the first round, No. 3 Cal State Northridge (83-63) in the semifinals and top-seeded Long Beach State (64-56) in the championship.

The Gauchos are led by junior guard Orlando Johnson, who leads the Big West in scoring at 21.1 points per game.  Johnson scored 85 points in three tournament wins to earn ampm Tournament Most Valuable Player honors.  Head coach Bob Williams is 217-169 in his 13th season at UCSB.

NOTEWORTHY

KEEP AN EYE ON

Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara
Johnson earned Most Valuable Player honors of the 2011 ampm Big West Tournament last week after averaging 28.3 points in three UC Santa Barbara victories.  Johnson reeled off performances of 32, 30 and 23 points against Pacific, Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State as the Gauchos captured their second straight conference tournament title.  The junior guard tops the Big West with six games of 30 points or more and has eclipsed the 20-point barrier 16 times.  A first-team All-District 9 selection by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), Johnson is No. 1 in the Big West in scoring (21.1 ppg) for the second straight season.

MORE NOTABLES

Long Beach State Headed To Postseason NIT
Long Beach State visits Washington State on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:00 p.m. for a first round game of the postseason National Invitation Tournament.  ESPNU will televise the game.

LBSU received a No. 7 seed in the Boston College Region, facing the No. 2 seed Cougars for the first meeting between the two schools, but first since 1975.  The winner of LBSU-WSU will play the winner of No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 6 Harvard in second round action.  The 49ers earned an automatic bid to the NIT by virtue of winning the Big West regular season championship.

This is Long Beach State’s sixth all-time NIT appearance.  The 49ers have posted a 2-5 record following NIT trips in 1980, 1988, 1990, 1992 and most recently, 2000.  They won first round games against Pepperdine (104-87) in 1980 and Arizona State (86-71) in 1990.

Five Finally Thrives
UC Santa Barbara became the first No. 5 seed to capture the tournament championship in the 36 years the conference has held the postseason event.  The Gauchos were also the lowest seed to hoist the trophy since San Jose State won the championship in 1996 as a No. 6 seed.  UCSB interrupted a recent theme of victorious No. 1 seeds.  A No. 1 seed had claimed the tournament crown in four of the five previous seasons before UCSB’s breakthrough.

Fresh Squeezed Record
The haul of points UC Santa Barbara junior Orlando Johnson scored in the ampm Big West Tournament – 85 in three games to be exact – enabled the 6-5 guard to set the school’s single-season record with 653 points.  Johnson surpassed the previous record of 649 points set by Raymond Tutt during the 1996-97 season.

Deadly Duo
Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally have rewritten the record book as the most prolific scoring duo in UC Santa Barbara history.  The juniors have combined to score 1,161 points this season, accounting for 54.8% of the team’s total.  The previous all-time record was 1,019 points.

ampm Big West Tournament Gets Strong Turnout
The Big West and title sponsor ampm began their new relationship with Honda Center in an auspicious way as a three-day total of 15,396 fans attended this year’s event.  This was the first of a five-year partnership to host the event at Honda Center.  The cumulative attendance total represented a 47% increase over last year.  Saturday’s men’s and women’s combined attendance of 6,474 was a single-day increase of 68%.  In addition, the 5,341 fans who witnessed the men’s basketball championship game was the third largest crowd to see a Big West final during its 17-year tenure in Anaheim (1977-82, 2001-11).

Long Beach State Dominant With Defense
A resurgent defense has contributed greatly to the continued improvement of the Long Beach State program, which has witnessed an increase in wins from six (2007-08) to 15 (2008-09) to 17 (2009-10) and 22 this season.  In 2009-10, the 49ers finished sixth in the Big West in scoring defense, allowing 71.1 points per game.  LBSU is allowing 70.1 points per game this season, but that number is a bit misleading considering that the average is 65.4 over the last 20 games.  During that 20-game span, LBSU is an impressive 17-3.

Ware Achieves First In Big West History
Long Beach State junior guard Casper Ware became the first individual in Big West history to achieve Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season.  Ware ranks third in the Big West in scoring (17.0 ppg), second in assists (4.4 apg) and sixth in free throw percentage (.809).  In addition, the 49er has made 56 steals this season for a 1.7 per game average that is fourth-best in the conference.

Robinson Now 10th All-Time In Rebounding
Junior forward T.J. Robinson entered the Big West’s career top 10 list in rebounding after corraling 28 boards over three games during the conference tournament.  The Long Beach State standout moved into 10th place with 847 boards, surpassing the 837 total UC Irvine’s Tod Murphy (1983-86) and UNLV’s Larry Johnson (1990-91) accumulated.

Four 49ers Surpass 1,000 Career Points
It’s not often that in any given season four players from the same team amass 1,000 career points, but Long Beach State has accomplished the feat.  T.J. Robinson (1,294), Casper Ware (1,225), Larry Anderson (1,106) and Greg Plater (1,015) have all joined the millenium club in 2010-11.


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