College Basketball Nation: Orlando Johnson

Behind the box scores: Saturday's games

February, 26, 2012
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Saturday.

Note of the Day
Four players had at least 30 points and 10 rebounds Saturday; no other day this season had seen more than two players accomplish that. Old Dominion’s Kent Bazemore (37 points, 12 rebounds), FIU’s DeJuan Wright (35 and 13), San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin (31 and 16) and Fordham’s Chris Gaston (35 and 16) pulled it off Saturday.

Fordham 67, La Salle 62
As part of his 30-10 day, Gaston took 30 shots and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, both the most by a Division I player this season. He’s the first player with 15 offensive rebounds in a game in more than nine years. Interestingly, Gaston had just one defensive rebound Saturday.

Texas Southern 67, Alabama State 59
Alabama State missed all 19 of its 3-point attempts in the loss, the fourth-most threes without a make by a team this season. Before this season, no team had shot 0-for-19 or worse from three since 2008.

Fairleigh Dickinson 45, St. Francis (NY) 44
Fairleigh Dickinson missed all 11 of its 3-point attempts in the win, the seventh team this season to go at least 0-for-10 from three in a win.

Penn 55, Harvard 54
The Quakers grabbed just 17 rebounds in the win, matching the fewest by a winning team this season. Western Kentucky had 17 rebounds in a win against Arkansas State on Thursday.

UC Santa Barbara 68, Cal Poly 60
Orlando Johnson scored 16 points to become UC Santa Barbara’s all-time scoring leader with 1,710 points.

IPFW 76, UMKC 73
IPFW’s Trey McCorkle made 13 of his 14 field-goal attempts (92.9 percent), the highest percentage by a player this year in a game with at least 12 attempts.

Michigan State 62, Nebraska 34
Nebraska’s 34 points are the school’s lowest in the shot-clock era and the second-lowest by a major conference school this season (Utah scored 33 against Colorado on Dec. 31). However, Nebraska did make all four of its free-throw attempts, the second straight game the Cornhuskers have not missed a free throw (3 for 3 against Purdue on Wednesday). It’s the fourth time this season Nebraska did not miss a free throw; only Wisconsin has done it as often.

Flying tortillas nearly cost UC Santa Barbara

December, 14, 2011
UC Santa Barbara fans taking in Tuesday's road game against San Diego caused a bizarre finish after deciding to revive a 1990s Gauchos tradition and hurl tortillas onto the court, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Gauchos would win 65-61 but not before nearly being assessed a technical foul with 0.6 seconds left when, leading by two, yellow-clad fans sitting behind their bench revived the UCSB tradition of flinging tortillas onto the court to celebrate the impending victory.

The referees huddled while the USD coaches made their hands into a T and their UCSB counterparts scurried onto the court to confiscate the evidence. Their decision: Have the public address announcer merely issue a warning to the crowd instead of whistling a technical foul and setting up one of the most bizarre finishes in the history of college basketball.

"Silly," UCSB coach Bob Williams said, shaking his head. "No place for it."

Orlando Johnson had been fouled when it began raining tortillas, and he calmly made both free throws to ice a tougher-than-expected victory for a veteran Gauchos team that reached the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons.

Yes, flying corn tortillas causing technical fouls was once a regular occurrence for the crazy kids who attended games at UC Santa Barbara's Thunderdome. It used to be toilet paper that would be thrown, but then tortillas became easier to sneak past security.

The fans ate it up as they threw tortillas after the Gauchos' first points. The school eventually banned throwing them in the Thunderdome, and the coaches at times couldn't stomach it.

In 1997, UC Santa Barbara coach Jerry Pimm told the Los Angeles Times that "some of our students need to be better educated" after a Gauchos win in which they were assessed three technical fouls for tortilla-tossing.
As Pacific ran onto the court to warm-up, tortillas cascaded from the stands. Pacific guard Mark Boelter stepped to the line to shoot the technical shots, missed the first one and then out came more tortillas.

Pacific is the conference's top team and ESPN was in the house, so the excitement was understandable. To a point. Pimm was so embarrassed that he grabbed the public-address microphone and admonished the students.

He also pleaded with them to behave like adults or at least act the part until the game was over. It didn't work.

With Santa Barbara leading, 73-69, late in the game, more tortillas hit the court. Had one hit Pimm in the face, it might have caught fire.

"That really, really . . . let's just say it upset me," Pimm said, the anger still evident in his voice. "Our kids played so hard, with such great emotion, and that could have wound up costing us the game."

The tortillas could very well have on Tuesday had a technical foul been assessed, as San Diego might have been awarded two foul shots and the ball with time left on the clock.

But the Gauchos escaped with a win, and the tradition lives on. After all, UC Santa Barbara fans still regularly throw tortillas during soccer games when goals are scored.

TMA: Badgers miss their shot

December, 1, 2011
The Morning After is our semi-daily recap of last night's best basketball action. It didn't sleep well last night, and it asks your preemtpive forgiveness for any typos or dumb mistakes. It will definitely try to take a nap before it watches The Throne.

No. 5 North Carolina 60, No. 7 Wisconsin 57: Wisconsin did everything right. Bo Ryan's team averages 60 possessions per game; this game had exactly 60. The Badgers never turn the ball over; they turned it over on just 6.7 percent of their offensive trips Wednesday night. The Badgers aren't big on getting to the foul line, and they aren't a great offensive rebounding team. Instead, they eschew offensive boards in order to get back on defense, and that trait was evident in how infrequently North Carolina was able to embark on its patented fast breaks. The middling marks in those two categories can be forgiven. Wisconsin was never going to outrebound North Carolina. Better to turn away and get back on defense, pronto. That worked, too.

The only thing Wisconsin did wrong -- the only thing it was noticeably worse at than in its six impressive wins that preceded Wednesday's trip to Chapel Hill -- was shooting. That's it. In its first six games, Wisconsin's average effective field goal percentage was a sterling 56.7 percent. On Wednesday night, it was 42.2 percent. There's your game right there.

That this game was as close as it was is a testament to Wisconsin's defense, the leveling effects of Ryan's clock-eating slow system, and UNC's struggles on the offensive end. Frankly, the Tar Heels' inability to grab this game by the scruff of its neck early is a bit disconcerting. A team with that much talent and experience should be able to impose its will on teams like Wisconsin, which can never hope to match up athletically. Instead, it took until the second half, right around the time Harrison Barnes started demanding touches (and just a few minutes before Roy Williams took off his jacket and screamed "let's go" in that "let's go, we're better than this, get it together" sort of way) for UNC to look like the aggressor.

The Tar Heels deserve credit for affecting so many of the Badgers' shots. Surely UNC's length had as much to do with Wisconsin's off night as anything else. But they don't get credit for much of the rest. In many ways, this could have -- maybe even should have -- been a second-straight loss, and at home to boot. Instead, the Tar Heels escaped.

Michigan State 65, Florida State 49: Those who tuned in to Wisconsin-UNC hoping for offense didn't get a ton of it, but the so-so scoring rate and slow pace of the night's marquee finale still seemed like an offensive explosion next to the game that preceded it.

A low-scoring, physical affair was to be expected in East Lansing, Mich. Florida State is the nation's most efficient (or anti-efficient, I guess) defense two years running, and Michigan State has, for its occasional troubles on the offensive end, played truly repellent defense early in the year. The only difference between these two teams was quality scoring from an emerging go-to guard. That guard's name is Keith Appling, a sophomore who posted a career high with 24 points (and tied his career high seven rebounds) and made the biggest shots down the stretch when Florida State had stymied MSU enough to pull within one around the 10-minute mark. Appling is a legitimate breakout candidate; he represents an overhaul from the defensive-apathetic days of former Spartans Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers. Appling can score, but he's also one of the best perimeter defenders in the country, and he rebounds, too. There's very little in his game to dislike.

Of course, it also helps that Florida State is, once again, Florida State. The Seminoles can defend. Boy, can they ever. Their offense, on the other hand, is about as bad as their defense is good. This has been the story for the past two seasons under Leonard Hamilton, and it doesn't look much like changing now. When FSU can keep opposing teams under a point per possession, as they've been doing all year, they're in OK shape. But if an opposing player gets hot, or the opposing team can defend and score competently (radical concept, I know), the Seminoles are bound to struggle.

Indiana 86, NC State 75: When Indiana had finally sealed the first non-Evansville true road win of the Tom Crean era -- a few seconds after guard Victor Oladipo punctuated the victory with a double-clutch reverse dunk -- Indiana forward Christian Watford flung the ball underhand and ran to celebrate with his teammates. It felt like an overwrought celebration for a Nov. 30 win over a team that hasn't gone to the NCAA tournament since the NBA created the one and done rule (2006). Casual fans may have been confused. Why so excited?

The answer is simple: After three years of horrible basketball, and a constant string of promising first-half performances followed by debilitating late-game collapses (especially in 2011; there's a reason why a team ranked No. 75 in KenPom went 12-20 overall), the Hoosiers finally sealed the deal on the road. For a while, it looked like Indiana would let the game fall away: When NC State took a seven-point lead with 7:47 left, it appears turnovers and fouls and all-around shaky defense would doom IU in the closing quarter of yet another game. When IU was able to battle back and eventually finish the game in high-flying fashion, it provided a signal that this team -- with brilliant freshman Cody Zeller and hyper-efficient guard Jordan Hulls leading the way -- was ready to re-enter something resembling college hoops normalcy.

At the end of the season, when Indiana looks back, it won't remember the NC State win for its effect on the RPI, or what it said about how good they were as of Nov. 30. They'll remember the NC State game as the first time in a long time the program was able to stand on the other guy's turf, take a few punches and emerge victorious all the same. That's why Watford threw the ball in the air. In so many intangible, hard-to-define ways, maybe this win really was that big.

Everywhere else: I'll let an early-morning tweet from none other than ESPN Analyst Jay Bilas tell you why you should probably go back and check the tape of that 94-88 double-OT UNLV win over UCSB: "UNLV's Mike Moser had 34 points, 10 rebounds in OT win at UCSB. Orlando Johnson had 36 points and 10 boards for the Gauchos. Strong." That pretty much sums it up. ... Creighton's 85-83 win at San Diego State left no doubt about the BlueJays' toughness, writes blogger Kevin Gemmell. ... In a resilient performance, Minnesota won its first game without Trevor Mbakwe, and Myron was on hand to check it out. ... Gonzaga shot 6-of-15 from three; Notre Dame shot 2-of-14, and that wasn't the only reason the Zags coasted to an easy win over the Tim Abromaitis-less Irish. ... Northern Iowa got a quietly solid 69-62 win at Iowa State. ... Nebraska lost at home to Wake Forest thanks to an uncontested layup with three seconds remaining, which can only be described as a deserved loss. ... Pittsburgh stayed out of trouble and got an 11-point win in the Pittsburgh city rivalry. ... Kansas cruised against Florida Atlantic. ... and Utah State moved to 3-3 after a surprising home loss to the now 5-1 Denver Pioneers who also, it should be noted toppled St. Mary's 70-58 last week. Interesting.

UC Santa Barbara's tale of two offseasons

October, 26, 2011
Following UC Santa Barbara's second straight opening-round loss in the NCAA tournament, Orlando Johnson went back to work.

The Gauchos' star guard worked out for NBA teams before deciding to withdraw his name from the draft, attended skills academies hosted by LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and made the USA Basketball's World University Games team to earn himself a trip to China, where he was the flag bearer for the American contingent.

Backcourt mate and fellow senior James Nunnally, meanwhile, worked on his game closer to home and got stronger this offseason as well, according to coach Bob Williams.

"Orlando’s offseason was very public," Williams said. "James’ was quietly phenomenal."

That's good news for a Gauchos team that very much wants to taste NCAA tournament success, but also has a huge roadblock ahead of it again with Long Beach State picked in the preseason to repeat as the regular-season champion.

UC Santa Barbara went on a preseason tour of Canada, so really, Johnson has not had a chance to recharge his batteries. Williams said he wants to get him some rest soon.

"We have to ride this horse in January, February and March," Williams explained. "He had the offseason of a lifetime in his eyes. It was a great opportunity, and it raised his visibility nationally."

Nunnally, who averaged 16.3 points last season, doesn't necessarily play second fiddle to Johnson considering he led the team in scoring in the early going and also can put up points in bunches. Williams said that based on his offseason, he's looking for Nunnally to have another breakout year.

The Gauchos also have some newcomers expected to contribute as well, including freshman John Green and New Mexico transfer Nate Garth, who is coming off hip surgery last year.

"I like where we are," Williams said.

Orlando Johnson got better while overseas

August, 30, 2011
Big West teams know all about UC Santa Barbara star Orlando Johnson, and the rest of the country should get to know him as well if it hasn't done so already.

Not only did the 6-foot-5 guard lead the conference in scoring last season, averaging 21.1 points, but also that makes him the nation's second-leading returning scorer.

Johnson withdrew his name from the NBA draft to return for his senior season and has already impressed this summer by making the USA's World University Games team where he averaged 7.3 points during the trip to Shenzhen, China.

That scoring average might not appear all that exciting, but the rest of the Big West should know that what really benefited Johnson overseas was an emphasis on his all-around game, according to the Santa Barbara News-Press.
"[World University Games] coach (Matt) Painter said he was looking at bigger things," Johnson said. "He told me, 'You did everything else -- you rebounded, you played defense, you're passing the ball ... I know you'll be able to score the ball, but it's the other things, like being a play-maker, which will get you on the team.'"


"They really opened his eyes to the value of defense," [UC Santa Barbara coach Bob] Williams said. "Over there, he was asked to be the stopper. As a coach, what do you think? I'm just smiling. Absolutely. All of a sudden, your best player realizes that he has the ability to be the stopper?

"I feel really, really good about what he's learned, and also about the relationship he had with the coaches and the interaction with the players from all different levels. He had an unbelievable experience."

Look for Johnson to team up with backcourt mate James Nunnally as the Gauchos look to capture their third consecutive NCAA tournament berth. Long Beach State is the favorite to win the regular-season title, but UCSB is right there, especially with Johnson becoming an improved player.

That Johnson expanded his game wasn't the only uplifting part of his China trip. He was also selected to represent the entire American delegation as the flag bearer during the opening ceremonies of the World University Games.

As the video shows, it was quite a cool moment.

UCSB's Justin Joyner as the Old Spice Guy

January, 10, 2011
UC Santa Barbara features more than just Big West player of the year candidates Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally. In fact, reserve guard Justin Joyner does an awesome Old Spice Guy impersonation.

Chances are the senior who averages three points per game will be recognized by students on campus a lot more after this video promoting this week's home games against UC Irvine and UC Riverside goes viral.

No, the tickets to UCSB's games don't turn into diamonds, and Joyner doesn't get to ride a horse, but it's a pretty awesome commercial in its own right.

UCSB's lucky buzzer-beating reverse layup

January, 3, 2011
Big West favorite UC Santa Barbara hasn't gotten off to a great start with the conference season, losing to Long Beach State in the opener and then needing overtime to beat NAIA Fresno Pacific three days later.

To send the game into overtime, the Gauchos got a break. They put the ball in the hands of Orlando Johnson to try to win the game with a 3-pointer, and former walk-on Jordan Weiner was there to make something of nothing.

"I saw Orlando release the ball and thought it might be short," Weiner said in a statement. "I just happened to be in the right place and didn't really have time to think about what to do. It was basically instinct. I knew I had to get a shot off fast."

The little scoop shot might be just what the Gauchos need, as they're learning they can't ride just on the shoulders of Johnson and leading scorer James Nunnally.

UC Santa Barbara seemed to have things going after winning at UNLV last month, but has since gotten blown out at San Diego State and lost by 16 at home to Long Beach State.

Weiner's shot wasn't exactly Lorenzo Charles dunking off an air ball to win the national title for North Carolina State and Jim Valvano, but maybe a little luck is just what the Gauchos need to get back on track.

James Nunnally helps UCSB upset UNLV

December, 16, 2010
UC Santa Barbara guard James Nunnally didn't even participate in the pregame shootaround and sat out a couple days of practice earlier in the week with a tweaked ankle.

But on the road against 22nd-ranked UNLV, Nunnally came through with 23 points and sank six clutch free throws down the stretch to help the Gauchos pull off the 68-62 upset.

"He's just playing very confidently," UC Santa Barbara coach Bob Williams said by phone late Wednesday night. "There's nobody I'd rather have at the foul line."

Reigning Big West player of the year Orlando Johnson was held to 12 points, but also hauled in 15 rebounds. This season, it's been Nunnally leading the team in scoring as he entered the game averaging 21.9 points to Johnson's 21.4.

"He’s not a sidekick to anybody," Williams said of Nunnally, who was 7-of-12 from the field and played 33 minutes on the bad ankle.

While UCSB shot 50 percent, the Gauchos limited UNLV to 29 percent shooting. That includes a putrid 6-of-29 from 3-point range, with Tre'Von Willis (1-of-7) struggling the most from beyond the arc while making his first start of the season.

UC Santa Barbara is now riding high heading into Saturday's road showdown against unbeaten San Diego State. The school's sports information department can't find any record of having previously played back-to-back road games against ranked teams.

Williams said he believes UNLV and San Diego State are Sweet 16-caliber teams. Of course, his team wouldn't mind another signature nonconference win against a Mountain West Conference team as it hopes to get back to the NCAA tournament.

"We told the [players] there’s an opportunity for us," Williams said.

On Wednesday night in Vegas, it was an opportunity not wasted.