December 21, 2009

Matadors Seek First Road Win Tuesday at Colorado

Dec. 21, 2009

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GAME #11

NORTHRIDGE MATADORS (4-6, 0-0 BIG WEST) AT COLORADO BUFFALOES (6-4, 0-0 BIG 12) Date: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22 Time: 5:37 p.m. MST (4:37 p.m. PST) Location: BOULDER, COLO. (COORS EVENTS CENTER - 11,064) TV: FSN ROCKY MOUNTAIN (DirecTV - CH. 683 and on Dish Network - ch. 414) AUDIO: GOMATADORS.COM (ALAN ZINSMEISTER) LIVE STATS: GOMATADORS.COM (GAMETRACKER)

FOR STARTERS The Cal State Northridge men's basketball team (4-6, 0-0 Big West) wraps up the pre-Big West season this Tuesday, Dec. 22 as the Matadors return to the state of Colorado to take on the Colorado Buffaloes (6-4). Northridge, which lost 89-82 at Denver 13 days ago, looks to snap a season-long, three-game skid against Colorado which owns a 2-0 record all-time against the Matadors. Northridge, 0-4 on the road this season, dropped its first home game of the season Friday as Drexel dealt the Matadors a 75-63 setback.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET Tuesday's non-conference game at Colorado will be broadcast live at GoMatadors.com and IBSU.net. Alan Zinsmeister, a veteran of Northridge men's basketball broadcasts, will handle the play-by-play while Matt Monroe will add analysis. Regular play-by-play man Bill Courtland will rejoin the Northridge broadcasts when the Matadors open Big West Conference action Jan. 2 at Pacific.

THE LAST TIME OUT ..... Jamie Harris scored a game-high 24 points, including six key points in the last 2:13 of the game to give Drexel University to a 75-63 victory over Cal State Northridge in a non-league men's basketball game on Friday night at The Matadome. Harris, a junior guard, hit nine of 15 shots along with seven assists in 35 minutes of play. Teammate Gerald Colds, also a junior guard, added 17 points and five rebounds for the Dragons. Four starters scored in double figures for Cal State Northridge. Lenny Daniel led the Matador attack with 13 points. Raymond Cody, Kenny Daniels and Vinnie McGhee each scored ten points for Cal State Northridge. The Matadors fell to 4-6. Cal State Northridge hit only 21-of-34 free throw attempts and was forced into 18 turnovers compared to eight assists. Drexel collected 12 steals in the win and converted the 18 Matador turnovers into 24 points.

MATADORS SLIP TO SECOND IN BIG WEST SCORING After averaging 79.0 points at Washington and Denver, Northridge scored just 63 points in the loss to Drexel and saw its season scoring average slip from a Big West-leading 76.8 to 75.4. The Matadors now trail Long Beach State (76.1) by 0.7 points per game for the conference lead. Cal State Fullerton is third averaging 74.3 points per game. Conversely, Northridge remains at the bottom of the conference in scoring defense. The Matadors have surrendered 810 points over 10 games (81.0 per game) which is just under three points per game worse than eighth-place Cal Poly (78.3 points per game). As a team, Northridge is second in rebounding offense (37.4) but ranks no higher than third in any of the other team categories.

FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM The Matadors will close the calendar year by adding to their ever-increasing amount of air miles. Having already accumulated 11,521 miles over the first month and a half of the season, Northridge heads back to Colorado for the second time in the span of two weeks. The Matadors battled sub-zero temperatures in their last trip to Denver and fell to the host Pioneers 89-82 on Dec. 8. Tuesday's game is the first between the Matadors and Buffaloes in 15 years. Northridge is 5-8 all-time in the state of Colorado.

BIG WEST OPENER ON THE HORIZON Tuesday's game at Colorado marks an end to the pre-Big West portion of the Matadors' 2009-10 schedule. Northridge will open up the Big West season on Jan. 2 at Pacific, before its conference home opener on Jan. 7 against UC Irvine. The Matadors still have four non-conference games remaining this season with a home-and-home series with Seattle (Jan. 11, Jan.19), a road game at CSU Bakersfield (Feb. 10) and a Feb. 20 home date as part of ESPN BracketBuster Saturday.

MATADORS IMPROVE TO 39-13 IN HOME OPENERS With their 81-74 victory over CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 30, the Matadors improved to 39-13 (.750) all-time in home openers. The win also improved Northridge's record to 13-1 (.929) in home openers under Bobby Braswell. The only loss in a home opener under Braswell came in 2001-02 when Nevada knocked off the Matadors 85-75. The Matadome is becoming an increasingly difficult place for opposing teams as the Matadors are now 32-10 (.762) at home over the last three seasons following Thursday's win over Idaho.

52ND SEASON OF NORTHRIDGE BASKETBALL The 2009-10 season marks the 52nd season of Cal State Northridge basketball. Since the program's inception in 1958-59, the Matadors have posted an all-time record of 681-722 (.486). In 1990-91, Northridge made the move to Division I and has since posted a record of 263-298 (.470).

NORTHRIDGE ON THE TUBE The Matadors will make five (possibly seven) regular season television appearances during the 2009-10 season. Northridge will make its Fox Sports debut on Dec. 6 when the Matadors take on the Washington Huskies on FSN Northwest. The Northridge-Colorado contest on Dec. 22 will be on FSN Rocky Mountain before the Matadors will make three (possibly five) appearances as part of the Big West television package. Northridge will appear on FSN West on Feb. 6 (at Long Beach State), Feb. 17 (Cal Poly) and Feb. 27 (at UC Irvine). The Matadors could also be selected among wild card games on Jan. 30 and Feb. 24.

DANIEL PROVING TO BE AN INSIDE FORCE Junior Lenny Daniel (F, 6-7, 210, Richmond, Va.) has found his place among the top big men in the Big West. Daniel, who scored in double figures once in the season's first four games, has reached double figures in the last six games, averaing 14.3 ppg over that span. Daniel scored a season-high 24 points against No. 10 Washington finishing 8-for-12 from the field against the bigger Huskies and also made all eight free throws in the 24-point effort. He finished the most recent road trip with 14 points and 13 rebounds at Denver, his second double-double in his last five games. Daniel has now moved up to third in the conference in rebounding at 7.3 per game and is also third in blocked shots (1.0 per game).

DANIELS LOOKS TO REGAIN SCORING TOUCH AGAINST COLORADO After scoring the third-most points in a single game in Northridge history (39 against Idaho), senior forward Kenny Daniels (G/F, 6-4, 210, St. Louis, Mo.) has found that opposing defenses have designs on keeping him in check. Consider it mission accomplished as the Matador senior leader has been limited to seven points per game over the last three contests. After scoring in double figures in all seven games to begin the season, Daniels was held to seven points at Washington before scoring a season-low five points at Denver. He did get back in double figures by scoring 10 against Drexel on Friday. After topping out at 19.7 ppg after his incredible performance against the Vandals, Daniels is now third in the Big West in scoring at 16.0 ppg.

MCGHEE EARNS FIRST CAREER START AGAINST DENVER Proving to be a valuable contributer off the bench, Vinnie McGhee (G, 6-0, 165, R-So., Oakland, Calif.) earned the first start of his Matador career against Denver. McGhee, who earned Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year honors in 2007-08 while at Sacramento State, had appeared in all eight previous games this season off the bench but was again in the starting lineup against Drexel with Mark Hill nursing an injury. After scoring 14 points over the first five games (2.8 ppg), McGhee has averaged 13.6 points over the last five games including a season-high 19 points against CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 30. Now ninth in the Big West in field goal percentage (55.1%), McGhee is also 14 for his last 24 (58.3%) from beyond the three-point line.

LIZARRAGA ECLIPSES CAREER-HIGHS AGAINST NO. 10 WASHINGTON Junior forward Michael Lizarraga (G, 6-7, 230, Dixon, Calif.) continues to start for the Matadors and continues to provide key minutes. The junior forward has started the last eight games (Northridge is 4-4 over the stretch) and notched career-highs in points (8), field goals (4), blocks (3) and minutes played (20) at No. 10 Washington on Dec. 6. Lizarraga collected six rebounds against the bigger Huskies, including three on the offensive end largely by out-hustling the Washington players. For the season, Lizarraga ranks fourth on the Matadors in rebounds (3.1 per game) and is tied for second in blocks while averaging 13.3 minutes per game.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES Senior Willie Galick is the third player this season to lead the Matadors in scoring off the bench. Galick poured in 20 points against Denver, his second 20+ point scoring effort of the season. McGhee's 19 points off the bench paced Northridge against CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 30) and Kevin Menner had 18 in a reserve role in the season opener at Purdue (Nov. 13) ... The Matadors have committed just five more turnovers than their opponents (178-173) but have been out-assisted by a staggering 167-111 for the season.

SCOUTING THE BUFFALOES Colorado is 6-4 on the season but has dropped two of its last three games. The Buffaloes, a perfect 5-0 at home this season, lost their most recent game 77-62 at Colorado State (Dec. 10). Colorado has home wins over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (88-72), Coppin State (82-58), Texas Southern (88-77), San Francisco (78-54) and Colorado Christian (84-65). Junior guard Cory Higgins paces the Buffs averaging 19.7 points per game while freshman guard Alec Burks adds 16.1 ppg.

SERIES STORY Tuesday's game is just the third meeting all-time between Cal State Northridge and Colorado. The Buffs have won both previous meetings in Colorado. The Buffs won 113-89 in November of 1990 and 100-85 in January of 1994.

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