MBK: Williams sits as Utah State downs Gauchos

Eric Childress - UCSB Gauchos Basketball

UCSB freshman guard Eric Childress played 28 minutes on Saturday, finishing with seven points and five assists without a turnover.

With Alan Williams pulled from the starting lineup just minutes before tip-off due to back spasms, UCSB’s men’s basketball team had to go to battle without their leading scorer and rebounder against Utah State at the Thunderdome on Saturday night.

Missing 24 ppg and 13 rpg, the rest of the team came out and still gave the visiting Aggies a run for their money before falling 71-64.

“We didn’t find out right up until game time that he wasn’t going to play with us tonight,” said Sam Beeler, who replaced Williams in the starting five and played a career-high 28 minutes. “That just means that a lot of people have to step up and maybe come out of their comfort zone a little bit and do things that they’re not necessarily used to doing.”


Beeler finished with 14 points and five rebounds on 4-of-7 shooting.

“We had done a lot a game-prep for Alan Williams so all of that was kind of out the window,” said Utah State head coach Stew Morrill. “I thought his replacement did a great job.”

Even without Williams, it was a winnable game for UCSB. Utah State never led by more than 10 points in the second half and the Gauchos cut the lead to under five several times in the final 10 minutes.

Michael Bryson’s layup made it 67-64 with 30 seconds remaining. Utah State, which made 17-of-19 free throws on the night, was able to keep the Gauchos from getting any closer on four straight makes by Ben Clifford to close out the game.

Morrill was happy to get out of there with a victory as the Aggies improved to 3-0 on the season.

“It was a scramble-type win, any of them on the road are. So, I didn’t think we were great but I thought we did just enough,” Morrill said.

The Aggies were carried by the outside shooting from Preston Medlin and Spencer Butterfield. The pair combined for eight 3-pointers and 34 points. Medlin’s game-high 18 points helped him become the 36th player in Utah State history to surpass 1,000 career points. Center Jarred Shaw totaled nine points and nine rebounds.

“They never doubled anybody. I thought their game plan was right on,” said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. “They adjusted very quickly to Al not being there and they adjusted very quickly to what we were doing because we were doing stuff that we were not prepared to do.”

The Gauchos were effectively without two starters as the team had announced that John Green would miss four to six weeks with a foot injury earlier in the week. Williams has never missed a game because of back spasms but has a history of missing games because of injury. He told the coaching staff he couldn’t go 10 minutes into warmups and Williams said his status for UCSB’s next game is unknown.

Bryson led UCSB with 15 points on 6-of-16 field goals. Freshman point guard Eric Childress led UCSB’s bench with seven points, five assists and four rebounds in 28 minutes.

The Gauchos suffered their first loss of the season and are 2-1. They travel to Colorado for their next game this upcoming Thursday. Their only two remaining home games of 2013 are on November 29 against South Dakota State and December 6 against Cal.

Interesting for a non-conference matchup, Saturday’s outcome won’t be the last word between these two teams this season. The Gauchos travel to Logan, Utah for another clash on December 20.

“(Williams) will play when they come to Logan and we’ll get to see their team with him on it,” Morrill said. “I like their team, I think they’re going to have a great year.”