Pacific, UC Davis Visit The Matadome This Week

GAME #14 (Big West Game #4):

Northridge Matadors (4-9, 1-2 Big West) vs. Pacific Tigers (4-10, 0-3 Big West)
Thursday, Jan. 12, 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 #15 (Big West Game #5):

Northridge Matadors vs. UC Davis Aggies (1-14, 0-3 Big West)
Saturday, Jan. 14, 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)

MATADORS READY TO TAME TIGERS

Cal State Northridge will continue its season-long Big West homestand when the Matadors face the visiting Pacific Tigers this Thursday evening. Falling short in the first of three consecutive home games last Saturday against Long Beach State, the Matadors will look to earn their first conference win inside the Matadome this season against a Pacific squad still searching for its first conference victory.

By defeating Pacific 58-54 last March, Northridge not only earned a split of last year's regular season series, but also provided this year's team an opportunity to earn back-to-back wins against the Tigers for the first time in the program's history.

All-Time Series Record Against Pacific: Northridge Trails 6-20
Home Record: 4-6    
Away Record: 1-10    
Neutral Record: 1-4
Last Season's Results: Pacific 74, at Northridge 64 (12/28/10) and Northridge 58, at Pacific 54 (3/5/11)

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PACIFIC TIGERS

With Northridge looking to accomplish a program first, consecutive victories against Pacific, the Tigers enter the Matadome Thursday evening also looking to earn a first of their own - their inaugural Big West win of the season. Beginning the season with two victories out of their first three games played, the Tigers have struggled since as they have lost nine of their last 11 games played, including the last seven straight. 

Pacific head coach Bob Thomason will most likely utilize an eight-man rotation, a collective group that includes four juniors and four sophomores that have competed in all 14 games this season. Junior guard Lorenzo McCloud leads his team with an average of 10.0 points per game, with only 3.2 points separating the scoring averages of Pacific's second through seventh-highest scorers. Combined these eight Tigers are responsible for 90 percent of Pacific's offense this season. Keep an eye on the tandem of junior forward Travis Fulton and sophomore center Khalil Kelley; leading the team with 5.5 and 5.1 rebounds per game, the pair have collected nearly one-third of Pacific's 458 rebounds this season. 

As is the case with Cal State Northridge, Pacific's roster also skews young as the team is comprised of seven juniors, six sophomores, one freshman, and only one senior. Ranked sixth in the Big West with an scoring average of 63.1 ppg, the Tigers have also allowed opponents to score an average of 70.3 ppg against them.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR NORTHRIDGE

The Matadors will end their three-game homestand this Saturday evening against a UC Davis squad in the midst of a three-game road trip of its own. Starting Thursday with their game against Long Beach State, the Aggies will face Northridge and Pacific before returning to The Pavilion on Jan. 26. Entering the week with a 1-14 overall record, UC Davis, like their Northern California counterparts from Stockton, also hope to earn its first conference victory as the Aggies, like the Tigers, possess a matching 0-3 conference record.

Beginning its season with three straight losses, Davis earned its only win of the season in a mid-November match-up against UC Santa Cruz, and have lost all 11 games played since. Once the team completes its current road trip, the Aggies will end a portion of their schedule that forced the team to travel in nine of 12 games played.

Led by sophomore guards Josh Ritchart and Tyler Les (11.7 and 9.9 ppg), the Aggies have been forced to fill the scoring void left by junior guard Ryan Sypkens. Averaging 14.5 ppg in the four games he participated in earlier this season, Sypkens suffered a season-ending knee injury, and is currently seeking a medical hardship waiver to preserve his season of eligibility. In addition to leading his team in scoring (amongst active Aggies), Ritchart is also responsible for a team-high 12 blocks out of the 28 recorded by Davis this season, and is second on the team with 11 steals behind freshman guard Tyrell Corbin's 14. 

All-Time Series Record Against UC Davis: Northridge Leads 17-8
Home Record: 11-1    
Away Record: 6-7    
Neutral Record: 0-0
Last Season's Results: at Northridge 87, UC Davis 81 (12/30/10) and at UC Davis 78, Northridge 66 (3/3/11)

WILD WILD (FOX SPORTS) WEST

Fox Sports West has made its "Wild Card" selection for the round of Big West games scheduled to take place on Saturday, Feb. 4, and will televise the Matadors' series finale against Long Beach State. Matador basketball fans are encouraged to check their cable/satellite listings to watch CSUN attempt to avenge last Saturday's loss against the 49ers in the return meeting at the Walter Pyramid. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

ONE TO WATCH OUT FOR

Josh Greene is one of two Matadors who are averaging double-digit points per game this season. The sophomore guard ranks second on the team with 10.7 ppg. After a slow start in which he combined for 15 points through the first three games, Greene's production has picked up drastically as he has reached double figures in points in eight of the previous 10 contests. In his last outing against preseason favorite Long Beach State, Greene tallied a team-high 15 points. He also drew the defensive assignment of the Big West No. 2 leading scorer, Casper Ware, and held Ware to his third-lowest scoring total of the season with 12 points.

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, tip-off will now take place at 8:00 p.m. Basketball fans interested in watching the final regular season meeting 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 game on BigWest TV.

YOU NEVER GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION

Leading the way for Cal State Northridge this season is a redshirt freshman who is quickly making a name for himself amongst his conference peers. Recording double-digit scoring totals in all 13 games played, swingman Stephan Hicks leads all Matadors with 16.4 points, and 8.0 rebounds per game. In addition to leading his team with those numbers, Hicks' averages are also the fifth- and third-highest totals respectively in the Big West. Converting on 67 of his 82 free throw opportunities, his .817 free throw percentage is the third-highest mark in the conference. Hicks also ranks third with 5.15 defensive rebounds and 2.85 offensive rebounds per game.

CSUN'S BLOCK PARTY

Led by Frankie Eteuati and his team-high 13 blocks, the Matadors enter Thursday's game against Pacific ranked fifth in the conference with an average of 2.77 blocks per game. Single-handedly responsible for more than one-third of his team's 36 blocked shots, Eteuati set a new career high on Monday, Jan. 2, at UC Riverside, earning four of CSUN's five blocks in his team's 11-point victory over the Highlanders.

ALOHA BIG WEST TOUR

The 2012 Big West Tour presented by Hawai'i Tourism Authority is set to launch on Jan. 21 on the campus of Cal State Northridge prior to the start of that night's CSUN-UC Santa Barbara women's basketball game. The tour will then relocate to the Matador Bookstore Lawn from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Jan. 24, before making its next stop at UC Riverside the following week. The tour will hit all nine Big West schools over an eight-week timespan 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 Hawai'i.

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE

Northridge has taken full advantage of its free throw opportunities throughout the season as the team possesses a conference-high 75.5 free throw percentage (213-for-282). Led by Josh Greene and his team-high 21-for-23 (91.3 percent) effort at the charity stripe, Allan Guei (18-for-22, 81.8 percent), Stephan Hicks (67-for-82, 81.7 percent), and Michael Lizarraga (8-for-10, 80 percent) represent a contingent of Matadors who have earned at least 10 free throw opportunities, and are shooting 80 percent or higher this season.

HOLDING THEIR OWN

Even though this year's team features numerous underclassmen, the Matadors find themselves amongst the some of the most well-known and respected programs in the nation in two statistical categories. The most successful Big West team at the free throw line this season, CSUN is also ranked No. 20 in the nation with its 75.5 free throw percentage. Converting on 81.1 percent of its free throws taken, Davidson's leads all Division I programs. 

Northridge is also No. 35 in the nation with its +3.2 turnover margin, Syracuse leads all Division I teams with its +7.4 differential.

IT'S BETTER TO RECEIVE THAN GIVE ...

Currently ranked No. 5 in the conference with an average of 13.8 turnovers per game, the Matadors are also forcing their opponents to commit a conference-high 16.9 turnovers per game. Leading the Big West with a +3.15 turnover margin, CSUN's average turnover differential is 1.84 to/gm. higher that the +1.31 figure possessed by the conference's second-ranked team, Long Beach State. The Matadors have committed 179 turnovers this season, the third-lowest total in the Big West. 

... OR IS IT BETTER TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE?

Earning his sixth start of the season last Saturday against Long Beach State, freshman guard Allan Guei is building a strong case towards keeping his spot in the starting lineup. Tying his season high with six assists earned against the 49ers, Guei's total represented nearly half of the 13 assists the Matadors recorded that game. This was the second time in his brief collegiate carer that Guei collected six assists, the first occasion also took place inside the Matadome in his first-ever home game against San Diego Christian (11/22/11).

CLEANING THE GLASS

One off the main reasons why the Matador are fourth in the Big West with a scoring average of 67.1 points per game is the team's rebounding success . Recording an average of 35.7 rpg,  CSUN leads all Big West teams with its 14.38 offensive rebounds per game average. Freshman Stephan Hicks leads all Matadors, and is No. 3 in the conference with 2.85 o/rpg. 

THREE TIMES THE TROUBLE

Competing in only his second season as a Matador, Josh Greene is building a reputation as one of the more dangerous long-range threats in the Big West. Tied for seventh in the conference with his 2.00 3-pt. field goals made per game average, Greene also leads the team with 26 baskets scored from behind the arc. Trailing Greene by only three 3-pt. field goals, Vinnie McGhee is ranked No. 10 in the conference with 1.77 3-pt. field goals made per game. McGhee's 29.1 3-pt. percentage is second only to Greene's 31 percent. Connecting on 11-of-37 3-pt. shots, Aqeel Quinn rounds out CSUN's top three with his 31.2 3-pt. percentage.

The trio's shooting prowess helped Northridge earn its first Big West victory of the year on Jan. 2, at UC Riverside, 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.

WELCOME BACK

Michael Lizarraga has been granted a season of competition waiver by the NCAA and will be eligible to play for the Matadors for the final 20 games of the 2011-12 season beginning Saturday, Dec. 17 against Pacifica College. Lizarraga, a 6-7 forward from Dixon, Calif., averaged 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds while playing in 79 games during his Matador career which began in 2007-08. As a senior in 2010-11, he appeared in a career-high 32 games, starting 10, while averaging a career-high 5.9 points per game and shooting 52.2% from the floor. He finished the season as the teams' second leading rebounder at 4.2 rebounds per game as the Matadors advanced to the Big West Tournament semifinals. 

Lizarraga was awarded a special Inspirational Award by the Big West Conference head coaches as the nation's only deaf NCAA Division I men's basketball student-athlete following the 2010-11 season.

A YOUNG MAN'S GAME 

The youngest Division I team in the nation, the 19 players on CSUN'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.

SAME FACES, DIFFERENT PLACES

Last Saturday's match-up featured a familiar opponent for two members of the CSUN coaching staff as head coach Bobby Braswell and assistant coach Jay Morris faced a Long Beach State program they were once a part of. An assistant coach 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 shortly after the end of the 2010 season, Morris was the Director of Basketball Operations for the men's basketball team. In addition to his everyday responsibilities, Morris also served as the team's strength and conditioning coach.

EARY SIGNING SUCCESS

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 from Palisades High School, Johnson averaged 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 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, highlighted by his season-high 30-point effort against Westchester High School. 

SUPPORT THE MATADORS FROM HOME, EVEN IF THEY ARE ON THE ROAD

During the past four seasons, 29 games involving CSUN basketball have been featured prominently on CBS, Fox Sports Net and ESPN. 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 in five televised broadcasts, on four different networks, throughout the 2011-12 men's basketball season. 

Already featured nationally by ESPN on Nov. 15, 2011, at Hawai'i, the Matadors' next television appearance will take place on Jan. 21, 2012, when the team travels to San Luis Obispo to face Cal Poly for the first time this season. The first of two games televised by Fox Sports Prime Ticket this season, the Matadors will return to the network on Feb. 25 when CSUN visits the Bren Events Center to complete its season series against UC Irvine. Announced by the Big West Wednesday morning, Fox Sports West has chosen CSUN's Feb. 4 game at Long Beach State at its "Wild Card" selection, and will begin its live broadcast from the Walter Pyramid at 7:30 p.m.

CSUN will also make an appearance on Comcast SportsNet California on Feb. 9, beginning its annual Northern California Big West road trip with a televised contest against the host UC Davis Aggies. Northridge basketball fans are encouraged to check their local lineup to find the exact channel listings for ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Fox Sports West, and Comcast SportsNet California. 

Depending on the team's success in 2011-12, CSUN could also be featured 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.