Matadors Begin Three-Game Homestand Against Long Beach State

GAME #13 (Big West Game #3):

Northridge Matadors (4-8, 1-1 Big West) vs. Long Beach State 49ers (9-6, 2-0 Big West)

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 - 7:05 p.m. PST
The Matadome (1,600) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: GoMatadors.com
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV
Audio: GoMatadors.com (Bill Courtland - PBP, Alan Zinsmeister - Analyst)
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Game Notes (PDF)

BACK IN ACTION AGAINST THE BEACH

Five days after handing UC Riverside its first conference loss of the season, Cal State Northridge will look to hand Long Beach State a similar result when the teams face one another this Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Matadome.

Falling on the wrong side of the final score in the last four games against the 49ers, a victory will not only help the CSUN climb the conference standings, but also knock Long Beach from its current first-place position alongside UC Santa Barbara. Both Long Beach State and UCSB are the only Big West teams who enter Saturday's action with an undefeated conference record.

All-Time Series Record: CSUN trails 20-30
Home Record: 12-8    
Away Record: 7-21    
Neutral Record: 1-1
Last Season's Result: CSUN 71, at Long Beach State 85 (1/5/11) and CSUN 62, vs. Long Beach State 79 (2/2/11)

A CLOSER LOOK AT LONG BEACH STATE

Earning a five-point victory at home against Cal Poly on Jan. 5, Long Beach State will have only a limited amount of time to prepare for its Saturday night meeting against Northridge.

Claiming the top spot in this seasons Big West Preseason Poll, the 49ers welcome back four starters from the 2010-11 squad that finished 22-12 overall and won the Big West regular season title by four games with a 12-4 record.

Led by senior guard Casper Ware who ranks second in the conference with his 16.9 points per game, fourth with his .813 free throw percentage, tied for fifth with 2.13 made 3-pt. field goals made per game, and sixth with 3.27 assists per game and a 1.23 assist/turnover ratio, the 49ers possess three players who are averaging 10 or more points this season.

In addition to Ware, senior guard Larry Anderson and senior forward T.J Robinson add 14.5 and 12.2 points per game to a team that ranks third in the conference with a scoring average of 71.4 points. As dangerous as Ware has been this season, the Matadors will also need to pay attention to the activities of Robinson as well. Leading all Big West players with seven double-doubles, Robinson became only the fourth player in conference history to reach the 1,000 point/1,000 rebound milestone last Monday night at UC Irvine.

Undefeated at the Walter Pyramid so far this season, five of the six Long Beach losses have taken place on the road this season. The 49ers other loss took place during Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawai'i.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS ACCORDINGLY

In an effort to accommodate Comcast SportsNet California and its broadcast of CSUN's road game at UC Davis on Feb. 9, tipoff will now take place at 8:00 p.m. Fans interested in watching the final regular season meting between the Matadors and the Aggies are encouraged to check their satellite/cable listings, or visit www.bigwest.org/tv to watch a live stream of this contest on BigWest TV.

SAME FACES, DIFFERENT PLACES

Saturday's matchup will feature an familiar opponent for two members of the CSUN coaching staff as head coach Bobby Braswell and assistant coach Jay Morris will face a Long Beach State program they were once a part of.

An assistant at Long Beach State for three seasons, Braswell helped the 49ers earn two postseason appearances in the National Invitation Tournament, and the team's first NCAA Tournament appearance within a 16-year timespan. During his tenure at Long Beach, Braswell's teams compiled a 52-38 mark.

Prior to his arrival at Cal State Northridge following the 2009-10 season, Morris was the Director of Basketball Operations for the men's basketball team at Long Beach State. In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Morris also served as the team's strength and conditioning coach.

YOU NEVER GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION

Leading the way for Cal State Northridge this season is a redshirt freshmen who is quickly making a name for himself amongst his conference peers. Recording double-digit scoring totals in all 12 games, Stephan Hicks also leads all Matadors with 16.8 points, and 8.0 rebounds per game.

In addition to leading his team, Hicks' scoring and rebounding averages are also the third- and fourth-highest totals in the Big West. Converting on 62 of his 74 free throw opportunities, his .838 free throw percentage is higher that every other player in the conference. Hicks also ranks third in the conference with 5.25 defensive rebounds per game, fourth with 2.75 offensive rebounds per game, and tied for ninth with 1.00 steals per game.

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE

Northridge has made the most of its free throw opportunities throughout the season as the squad currently leads the Big West with its .759 percentage (198-for-261). Led by Josh Greene and his team-high 19-for-21 (.905) effort at the charity stripe, Stephan Hicks (62-for-74, .838), Allan Guei (18-for-22, .818), and Aqueel Quinn (16-for-20, .800) represent a contingent of Matadors who have earned a minimum of 10 free throw opportunities and are shooting 80 percent or above this season. Northridge is ranked 12th in the nation with its .759 team free throw percentage, Denver leads all Division I teams with its .808 mark.

CSUN'S BLOCK PARTY

Led by Frankie Eteuati and his team-high 13 blocks, the Matadors enter Saturday's contest ranked fourth in the conference with an average of 2.92 blocks per game. Single-handedly responsible for more than one-third of his team's 35 blocked shots, Eteuati set a new career high last Monday at UC Riverside, earning four of his team's five blocks in CSUN's 11-point victory over the Highlanders.

IT'S BETTER TO RECEIVE THAN GIVE

Even though they rank sixth in the conference with an average of 14 turnovers, the Matadors are also forcing their opponents to commit a conference-high 17 turnovers per game as well. Leading the Big West with a +3.00 turnover margin, CSUN's average turnover differential is higher that the +1.80 figure possessed by the conference's second-ranked team, Long Beach State.

CLEANING THE GLASS

One off the main reasons why the Matador are fourth in the Big West with a scoring average of 67.0 points per game is the team's rebounding success. Recording an average of 35.9 rebounds per game,  CSUN also leads all Big West teams with its 14.58 offensive rebounds per game average. Freshman Stephan Hicks leads all Matadors, and is ranked fourth in the conference with 8.0 rpg.

THREE TIMES THE TROUBLE

Participating in only his second season as a Matador, sophomore Josh Greene is building a reputation as one of the more dangerous long-range threats in the Big West. Ranked ninth in the conference with his 1.92 3-pt. field goals made per game average, Greene also leads the team with 23 baskets scored from behind the arc. Trailing Greene by only one 3-pt. field goal, Vinnie McGhee provides coach Braswell with another successful option on offense. Ranked 10th in the conference with his 1.83 3-pt. field goals made per game figure, McGhee's .289 percentage is second only to teammate Aqeel Quinn and his .303 3-pt. field goal percentage (min. 10 FG made).

The trio's three-point shooting prowess helped CSUN earn its first Big West victory at UC Riverside last Monday as Greene, McGhee, and Quinn were collectively responsible for seven of the team's 11 3-pt. field goals made in CSUN's 11-point victory over the Highlanders.

A YOUNG MAN'S GAME 

The youngest Division I team in the nation, CSUN's 19 players on this year's roster, possess a combined 13 years of previous collegiate experience for an average of 0.68 years per player. Another Big West counterpart, UC Irvine, ranks second with 0.69 years of average experience, with Navy rounding out the top three with an average of 0.70 years. These statistics factor in the team's total years of previous collegiate experience with the number of players on the roster. The 19-man Matador roster has only four seniors, and zero juniors, with the remaining positions filled by seven freshmen, six sophomores, and two redshirt freshmen.

BIG WEST TOUR

The 2012 Big West Tour presented by Hawaii Tourism Authority is set to launch on January 21 on the campus of Cal State Northridge.  The tour will hit all nine Big West schools over the next eight weeks as it brings the preparation and excitement of the Big West Tournament to each campus.  Fans will have a chance to win various prizes, including ampm food items, sunglasses, water bottles, leis and "We Are The Big West" wristbands. All fans who stop by the Tour and sign up will be entered into a drawing for a chance at a trip for two to Hawaii.

SIGNING STORY

During the early signing period in November, Brandon Perry and Donovan Johnson signed national letters of intent and are committed to playing for Cal State Northridge next season. Perry, a 6-6 forward, played a pivotal role in helping Taft High School earn its spot in the Los Angeles City championships during the 2010-11 season. Ranked by many publications as one of the top 150 players in the country, Perry helped Taft earn a 29-3 record and a perfect 10-0 mark in the West Valley League as a junior last season.

A 6-3 guard hailing from Palisades High School, Johnson averaged 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, three assists and three steals per game throughout the 2010-11 season to gain Los Angeles All-City and Western League Most Valuable Player accolades. As a junior, Johnson scored in double figures in 28 of the team's 32 games last season highlighted by his season-high 30-point performance (11-for-14 from the floor) against Westchester High School. 

COMING TO A TELEVISION SCREEN NEAR YOU

During the past four seasons, 29 games involving CSUN basketball have been featured prominently on CBS, Fox Sports Net and ESPNU. During CSUN's march to the NCAA Tournament during the 2008-09 season, Matador games were televised a school record nine times. Northridge basketball fans will have the opportunity to see their team compete on four nationally televised broadcasts throughout the 2011-12 men's basketball season.

Featured nationally by ESPN on Nov. 15 against the University of Hawai'i in Honolulu, the Matadors will return to the airwaves on Jan. 21, 2012, and Feb. 25 on Fox Sports Prime Ticket when the team travels to Cal Poly and UC Irvine. CSUN will also make an appearance on Comcast SportsNet California on Feb. 9 when the team begins its annual Northern California Big West road trip at UC Davis. Northridge basketball fans are encouraged to check their local listings to find the exact channel listings for ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, and Comcast SportsNet California.

Depending on the team's success in 2011-12, CSUN could be featured another two times on television, this would include a "wild card" selected game either on ESPNU or Fox Sports West on Saturday, Feb. 4, when the Matadors travel to Long Beach State. Other games also under consideration on Feb. 4 are UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis at UC Riverside, and Pacific at UC Irvine. The other possible telecast would take place on Saturday, Feb. 18, when Cal State Northridge participates in the 10th annual SEARS Bracketbusters sponsored by ESPN.

Thirteen nationally-televised contests selected from a pool of 142 teams and 16 conferences will be shown on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3, match-ups, game times and network assignments will be announced by ESPN on Monday, Jan. 30.