MBK: Bryson, Gauchos take on No. 14 Cal

John Green led UCSB with 22 points in Friday's season opener. (Presidio Sports Photo)

John Green led UCSB with 22 points and 13 rebounds in Friday’s season opener. (Presidio Sports Photo)

Coming off a last-second victory in Friday’s season opener, UCSB’s men’s basketball team gets back top returner Michael Bryson from a one-game suspension on Monday as the Gauchos complete their two-game road trip at Cal.

On paper it is the Gauchos’ toughest matchup of the season. The Bears are ranked No. 14 in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Bryson, UCSB’s leading returning scorer (13.9 points per game), rebounder (4.6 per game) and three-point marksman (68), will make his season debut. Bryson did not play in the Gauchos’ game at Nebraska-Omaha on Friday as he served a one game suspension for participating in an non-sanctioned summer league game in July.

Without him, UCSB came through with a 60-59 victory when Eric Childress tipped in the winning basket with 0:03 on the clock. The Gauchos trailed by seven with just over four minutes left, but won on a late rally that also included a three-pointer and acrobatic two-pointer by Gabe Vincent. John Green scored a career-high 22 points and added career-highs of 13 rebounds and three steals before fouling out with 3:51 left in the game. UCSB led by 14 points midway through the second half but a 25-4 run by the Mavericks game them a seven-point cushion and forced the late comeback.

The last time UCSB faced Cal, Santa Barbara triumphed 72-65 two years ago in the Thunderdome. It was the Gauchos’ first win over the Bears in a 10-game history dating back to 1948.

After Cal, UCSB returns home for one of only two games in the Thunderdome until January. There’s just 11 games total at the Thunderdome this season, including eight Big West Conference games. The 11 home games will be the fewest the program has ever played.

The Gauchos host Oregon State this Saturday at 2 p.m. and USC on December 3. UCSB will play against five Pac-12 opponents in total. The Gauchos travel to Arizona State on Nov. 29 and to Washington on Dec. 28.

Monday’s game against Cal can be listened to live online HERE