Ajay Mitchell, last year’s Big West Conference Player of the Year, sat out UCSB’s first two games with a sprained ankle
UC Santa Barbara, having lost its first two men’s basketball games for the first time in Joe Pasternack’s seven seasons as coach, will find its star point guard back in the lineup Sunday night.
Pasternack announced that Ajay Mitchell, last year’s Big West Conference player of the year, returned to full workouts this week and will be in the starting lineup when the Gauchos tip off against Le Moyne College at the Thunderdome at 7 p.m.
UCSB (0-2) has made more turnovers (35) than assists (33) in its first two games without him — at home against Portland State and at Texas-El Paso.
Mitchell, a 6-foot-5 junior guard, led last year’s team to a 27-8 record with averages of 16.1 points and 5.2 assists. A sprained ankle, however, sidelined him for the start of this season.
The Gauchos’ other point guard, Creighton transfer Ben Shtolzberg, has also not played because of a shoulder injury. He won’t be available Sunday night.
UCSB has been led this season by 6-10 sophomore Yohan Traore, a transfer from Auburn (17.0 points, 4.5 rebounds); 6-4 senior Josh Pierre-Louis (16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists), 6-4 junior Cole Anderson (15.0 points, 35.3% three-point percentage), and 6-7 junior Ariel Bland (9.5 points, 9.5 rebounds).
Le Moyne (1-3), located in Syracuse, N.Y., is in its first season of transition to NCAA Division 1 status. The Dolphins posted their lone victory over SUNY-Canton. Their defeats have all come on the road: to Georgetown, to No. 20 Villanova, and to the University of San Diego, 80-71, on Friday.
Sunday’s game will cap a doubleheader at the Thunderdome. The UCSB women’s team (1-1) will play host to Southern Utah (1-2) at 2 p.m.
The Gaucho women have been led by 6-3 forward Alexis Whitfield with averages of 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds.