Gauchos out-class 'Eaters

IRVINE — The UC Irvine men's basketball team does not have a senior this season. But it's nights like Wednesday that UCI Coach Russell Turner is happy to be saying goodbye to those exhausting their eligibility elsewhere.

Visiting UC Santa Barbara, the three senior starters for which include Orlando Johnson, provided all the pomp and circumstance the Anteaters could handle on its way to an 85-62 win at the Bren Events Center.

Johnson, recently named to the John R. Wooden Award midseason top-25 list, made nine of 11 field-goal attempts to finish with a game-high 25 points. He added a game-high 10 rebounds in 28 clinic-like minutes, displaying the kind of play that some believe will give him an NBA opportunity.

"He's got a shot," said Turner, who spent five seasons as an NBA assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors before taking over at UCI two seasons ago. "He's a good player. I felt like we made a conscious effort to develop a game plan to stop Orlando Johnson. Obviously it wasn't a very good game plan, or we didn't execute it well. Probably a little bit of both."

Johnson made his first six field-goal attempts and helped the Gauchos (14-8, 9-3 in conference) finish at 53.6% from the field (30 for 56). UCSB shot 55% from three-point range (11 for 20).

Johnson was two for two from threedom, while UCI (9-17, 5-8) netted just six of 21 from three-point range (28.6%) and shot 37.7% from the field.

Freshman reserve Will Davis made six of seven field-goal tries to share team-high scoring honors with junior Daman Starring (12 points each).

It was the fourth straight loss for UCI, which remains in a sixth-place tie with UC Riverside with just three regular-season conference games remaining.

Junior Adam Folker had 10 points and matched Starring for team rebounding honors with seven.

UCSB received 19 points from sophomore Kyle Boswell, who was five of eight from three-point range.

Senior starters James Nunnally and Jaime Serna, as well as senior reserve Greg Somogyi combined for 17 points and 14 rebounds. The 7-foot-3 Somogyi added four blocked shots.

"Those [Gauchos seniors] have proven themselves in this league by winning the conference tournament two years in a row," Tuner said. "They are good. They expect to come in here and win games like this and they did that."

UCI made just six of its first 24 field-goal attempts, then connected on six straight to pull within 38-29, late in the first half. But UCSB scored the final six points of the first half and the first 10 of the second and eventually pushed the lead to 31.

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5


Big West Conference

UC Santa Barbara 85, UC Irvine 62

UCSB – Nunnally 7, Williams 4, Serna 4, Johnson 25, Taylor 6, Boswell 19, Garth 9, Somogyi 6, Hornbuckle 5.

3-pt. goals – Boswell 5, Johnson 2, Nunnally 1, Taylor 1, Garth 1, Hornbuckle 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

UCI – Wilder 3, Folker 10, Starring 12, McNealy 7, Flowers 7, Davis 12, Best 8, Woods 3.

3-pt. goals – Starring 2, Wilder 1, McNealy 1, Flowers 1, Woods 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

Halftime – 44-29, UCSB.

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