Matadors Seek Fourth Straight Victory Against Fullerton, Travel To Bakersfield This Week

GAME #18 (Big West Gm. #8):
Northridge Matadors (5-12, 2-5 Big West) vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans (12-6, 4-2 Big West)

Thursday, Jan. 26, 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 #19 (Non-Conference Gm. #11):
Northridge Matadors at Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (11-10)

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 - 7 p.m. PST
Icardo Center (3,800) - Bakersfield, Calif.
Live Stats: GoMatadors.com
Streaming Video: None
Audio: GoMatadors.com (Bill Courtland - PBP, Alan Zinsmeister - Analyst)
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Game Notes (PDF)

NORTHRIDGE RETURNS HOME TO FACE CAL STATE FULLERTON

Cal State Northridge will look to reverse its fortunes, and extend its win streak against Cal State Fullerton when the teams face one another inside the Matadome this Thursday. Winners of their last three head-to-head games against the Titans, another victory will give the Matadors their second-longest win streak ever against Fullerton (CSUN won six straight from 1970-72).

Snapping a seven-game home losing streak with its 89-65 win last season, CSUN will regain its all-time, home series lead if victorious against a Fullerton squad that enters with consecutive wins earned against UC Riverside, and at UC Irvine last week. The two have split their 26 previously played games in Northridge.

All-Time Series Record Against Cal State Fullerton: Northridge trails 29-35
Home Record: 13-13  
Away Record: 13-19  
Neutral Record: 3-3
Last Season's Results: at Northridge 89, Cal State Fullerton 65 (1/5/11), Northridge 70, at Cal State Fullerton 68 (2/10/11), and Northridge 75, vs. Cal State Fullerton 54 (3/10/11)
Last Northridge Home Win vs. Cal State Fullerton: Northridge 89, Cal State Fullerton 65 (1/5/11)
Series Streak: Northridge +3

A CLOSER LOOK AT CAL STATE FULLERTON

The Matadors will return home Thursday evening to complete their first round of Big West games against a Cal State Fullerton team that has experienced a number of streaks this season. Victorious in their first three games of the season, the Titans dropped their next three contests, only to respond with a seven-game win streak subsequent to suffering another three-game losing streak. Rebounding from that losing streak with victories against UC Riverside, and at UC Irvine last week, the Titans are currently 12-6 overall, and are tied for second place alongside UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside with an identical 4-2 conference record. 

Possessing a conference-high 77.8 ppg average, the Titans are also ranked second in the Big West with 8.1 made three-pointers per game. As dangerous a weapon as the three-point shot has been for the Matadors this season, the Titans have also used this shot to their advantage as Fullerton possesses a perfect 7-0 mark whenever the team sinks 10 or more three-point shots in a game.  

Even though Fullerton boasts four players who are averaging 10 or more points this season - D.J. Seeley (16.2 ppg), Kwame Vaughn (16.0), Isiah Umipig (12.6), and Omondi Amoke (12.1) - the Matador defense will need pay particular attention to Vaughn. Coming off one of his best scoring weeks as a Titan after dropping a career-high 28 points versus the Highlanders, and another 25 against the Anteaters, Vaughn has now scored 20 or more points in five games this season.  

WHAT'S NEXT FOR NORTHRIDGE - AT CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD

Losing to Cal State Bakersfield by seven points at home last November, Northridge will look to avenge its early-season loss on the Roadrunners' home court this Saturday in a 7 p.m. game at the Icardo Center. Bill Courtland and Alan Zinsmeister will serve as the play-by-play announcer and analyst for Saturday's return matchup, CSUN men's basketball fans can access their live internet radio broadcast online at GoMatadors.com.

Competing in its penultimate season as a Division I independent, Cal State Bakersfield has already competed in six games against teams from the Big West this season. Including the Matadors, CSUB also played one game against Cal Poly, and two against Cal State Fullerton and Pacific, emerging with victories on all six occasions. 

Prior to last Monday's loss at San Jose State, the Roadrunners possessed a four-game win streak, with one of those wins earned against CSUN's next opponent - Cal State Fullerton. Squaring off against the Titans on Jan. 14, the 'Runners defeated the Titans at home by a final score of 67-65. Bakersfield is 7-2 at home this season, but only 4-8 outside the Icardo Center and Rabobank Arena, the home facilities for Bakersfield men's basketball. 

Stephon Carter and Issiah Grayson lead the team with identical 11.3 ppg averages, and are two of six Roadrunners who have competed in all 20 games for head coach Rod Barnes in 2011-12. Even though Barnes' team is averaging 68.6 ppg, his roster is also allowing opponents to score an average of 69.3 ppg. Rashad Savage leads all Roadrunners with 6.4 rebounds per game, and is second on the team with 11 blocked shots. Donald Johnson leads all 'Runners with 15 blocks. As a team, Bakersfield is shooting 46.3 percent (490-for-1,058) from the field, 40.2 percent from three (138-for-343), and 65.9 percent from the line (253-for-384).

All-Time Series Record Against Cal State Bakersfield: Northridge trails 21-23
Home Record: 11-11  
Away Record: 10-11  
Neutral Record: 0-1
Last Season's Result: at Cal State Bakersfield 70, Northridge 69 (12/8/10)
Last Northridge Road Win at Cal State Bakersfield: Northridge 61, Cal State Bakersfield 58 (1/13/90)
Series Streak: Cal State Bakersfield +3

CSUN ADDS LATE-SEASON GAME AGAINST SAINT MARY'S

Cal State Northridge men's basketball has added a late-season game against Saint Mary's, and will now end its 2011-12 schedule on the road against the Gaels. The Matadors-Gaels 7 p.m. matchup will take place on Friday, March 9, at McKeon Pavilion, and will mark the final appearance in a CSUN uniform for seniors Ari Feldman, John Hayward-Mayhew, Michael Lizarraga, and Vinnie McGhee.

Saint Mary's is the third West Coast Conference school the Matadors will face this season; defeated by 13 points at Santa Clara last December, CSUN rebounded the following week at Pepperdine with a three-point victory against the Waves. This is CSUN's first trip to Moraga, Calif. since Dec. 22, 1995. 

NOW YOU SEE IT ... NOW YOU DON'T

Led by Vinnie McGhee with 19, Cal State Northridge has six players who have earned 10 or more steals this season. Other Matadors with double-digit steals include Stephan Hicks (15), Josh Greene (14), Aqeel Quinn, Allan Guei (12), and Stephen Maxwell (10).

KICKS FOR A CAUSE

Coming up this Friday-Sunday (Jan. 27-29) is the annual Coaches vs. Cancer® Suits and Sneakers awareness weekend, a collaborative initiative of the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Participating NABC member coaches will wear sneakers instead of dress shoes with their suits during weekend games to demonstrate their support for the American Cancer Society and its vision of a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

Fans may support this cause by texting COACH to 20222 from any wireless phone to make a $5.00 donation toward Coaches vs. Cancer and help in the search for a cure. For more information, visit the Coaches vs. Cancer Facebook page, facebook.com/coachesvscancer.

GOTCHA!

Recording 116 steals this season throughout their first 17 games, the Matadors possess a conference-high average of 6.82 steals per game. Even though Northridge is third in the conference behind Cal Poly's 124 steals and Long Beach State's 136, the Matadors have competed in three fewer games than both teams ranked ahead of them. 

MATADOR DOUBLE-DOUBLES

Michael Lizarraga earned his second career double-double, CSUN's sixth of the season, last Saturday at Cal Poly when he finished with a team-high 11 points and 10 rebounds. In addition to the senior forward, freshman swingman Stephan Hicks, sophomore guard Josh Greene, and freshman forward Stephen Maxwell are responsible for the remaining Northridge efforts.

Finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds, Hicks recorded his third double-double of the season against Pacific (1/12/12). Earning identical numbers last December against Pacifica (12/17/11), Hicks first-ever double-double took place in his second game as a Matador when he finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds at Hawai'i (11/14/11).

Greene scored 15 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds against Pacifica to record his first double-double of the season, with Maxwell recording his first double-double in his first-ever college basketball game versus Cal State Bakersfield (11/30/11). In his inaugural appearance in a Northridge uniform, Maxwell scored 20 points and collected 11 rebounds. Four of the five Northridge double-doubles earned this season were earned inside the Matadome, with Hicks' performance at Hawai'i serving as the lone exception. 

Greene's double-double versus Pacific was the second of his career, the sophomore guard's inaugural effort took place last season on Nov. 20, 2010, when he scored 17 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds versus Vanguard. Lizarraga's first-ever double-double also took place during the 2010-11 season when he finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds against Long Beach State (2/12/2011).

DOUBLE YOUR DOUBLE-DOUBLE INFORMATION

Of the 53 double-doubles recorded this season by Big West players, six have been earned by four different freshman. In addition to Matador swingman Stephan Hicks who leads all freshmen with three, CSUN forward Stephen Maxwell, UC Irvine's Will Davis III, and UC Santa Barbara's Alan Williams have each recorded one double-double apiece.

CSUN SCORING STREAKS

Prior to last Saturday's game at Cal Poly, CSUN's 17th of the season, redshirt freshman Stephan Hicks recorded double-digit point totals in all 16 previously played games. This streak is the third-longest regular season scoring streak by a Matador during Bobby Braswell's 16-year tenure as head coach. 

Recording double figures in the last two games of the 1999-2000 season, Brian Heinle scored 10 or more points in all 32 regular season games the following season to end his Northridge career with double-digit scoring totals in his final 34 games played. After Heinle, Ian Boylan (2002-03 season) is second with 18, followed by Hicks, Lenny Daniel and Rashaun McLemore. Daniel and McLemore each finished with double-digit point totals in 14 straight games during the 2010-11 campaign.

FOUL AT YOUR OWN RISK

Ranked second and ninth in the Big West respectively with their 81.1 percent (86-for-106) and 78.6 percent (33-for-42) efforts at the free throw line this season, Stephen Hicks and Aqeel Quinn lead a Northridge team that is on pace to set a new team record (see below). Including Pacific sophomore Ross Rivera (7th, 79.7 free throw percentage), Hicks and Quinn represent the only underclassmen who currently occupy a top-ten conference ranking in this category. 

REWRITING THE RECORD BOOKS

Entering Saturday's game with a 75.1 percent success rate at the free throw line this season, this year's Matador team is on pace to record the highest percentage in the program's history. The 1961-62 Matadors occupy first place all-time with its 73.6 percentage from the line. 

THAT'S THE GUEI TO GET YOUR TEAMMATES INVOLVED

One of four Matadors to see action in all 17 games this season, Allan Guei enters Thursday's game ranked No. 2 on the team with 44 assists, 21 of which were earned throughout CSUN's conference games. Based on those seven Big West games, Guei's 2.63 assist/turnover ratio against his conference counterparts is the highest in the conference. 

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 his first 16 collegiate games played, swingman Stephan Hicks leads all Matadors with 15.9 points, and 7.2 rebounds per game. In addition to leading his team with those numbers, Hicks' averages are the sixth- and third-highest figures respectively in the Big West. Successfully converting on 86-of-106 free throw opportunities, his 81.1 free throw percentage is the third-highest in the conference. Hicks is also ranked No. 2 with an average of 2.71 offensive rebounds, and No. 6 with 4.47 defensive rebounds per game.

CSUN'S BLOCK PARTY

Led by Frankie Eteuati and his team-high 14 blocks, the Matadors enter Saturday's game with an average of 2.65 blocks per game. Single-handedly responsible for almost one-third of his team's 45 blocked shots, Eteuati set a new career high on Monday, Jan. 2, at UC Riverside, by earning four of CSUN's five blocks in his team's 11-point victory over the Highlanders.

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

Facing one another last Thursday night at the Thunderdome, CSUN's Stephan Hicks and UC Santa Barbara's James Nunnally both had their double-digit scoring streaks stopped last Saturday in their respective games at Cal Poly, and at home against Long Beach State. Entering last Saturday's action as the only players to accomplish this double-digit feat, Hicks recorded eight points against the Mustangs, with Nunnally recording only five against th 49ers.

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 75.1 free throw percentage (277-for-369), 47 percentage points ahead of No. 2 UC Riverside's 70.4 free throw figure. Led by Allan Guei (24-for-29, 82.8 percent), Hicks and Josh Greene (21-for-26, 80.8 percent) are the three Matadors who have earned at least 10 free throw opportunities, and are shooting 80 percent or higher this season from line. If successful in his next two attempts, Davon Potts will join that group as he enters Thursday's game with a perfect 8-for-8 mark.

THAT'S THE (PRIME) TICKET

Cal State Northridge made the first of its two appearances on Fox Sports Prime Ticket last Saturday against the Cal Poly Mustangs. Even though the end result did not fall in CSUN's favor, the Matadors will have another opportunity to earn a win in front of a televised audience on Prime Ticket in their return matchup against the UC Irvine Anteaters. Taking place at the Bren Events Center, that game will also serve as the last of five scheduled television appearances for the Matadors this season. 

JUST GIVE HIM THE POINTS

Successful in all but five of his 29 trips to the free throw line this season, Allan Guei leads the team (min. 10 attempts) with his 82.8 free throw percentage. If Guei were to meet the minimum requirement, his free throw percentage would be the second-highest in the Big West. In order to earn a Big West ranking, a player must make a minimum of four free throws per game. 

NORTHRIDGE VS. THE NATION

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, Northridge is ranked No. 19 in the nation with its 75.1 free throw percentage. Converting on 80.9 percent of its free throws taken this season, Weber St. is ranked No. 1 in this category.

Also leading the Big West with its +2.94 turnover margin, more than one full turnover more than second-ranked Long Beach State and its +1.20 turnover differential, the Matadors find themselves ranked No. 35 in the nation in this category. Syracuse leads all Division I teams with its +7.2 figure.

DANGEROUS FROM DOWNTOWN

Responsible for the final three of his team's points during its 16-0 second-half scoring run against UC Davis on Saturday, Jan. 14, Ari Feldman's three-point shot all but officially earned the win for the Matadors as the Aggies were unable to regain the lead for the remainder of the game. Even though he has only attempted nine 3-pt. feld goals in the six Big West games he has appeared in, Feldman has been extremely successful from long range. Connecting on five of those shots. Feldman's 55.6 percent success rate would be the third-highest 3-pt. percentage in the conference (Big West games only) if Feldman met the Big West's minimum 1.0 made field goal per game average. 

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. Tip-off will take place at 7:30 p.m.

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 two 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.

CLEANING THE GLASS

One of the main reasons why the Matadors are fourth in the Big West with a scoring average of 66.5 points per game is the team's rebounding success. Averaging 34.8 rpg, CSUN leads all Big West teams with its 14.24 offensive rebounds per game average. Freshman Stephan Hicks leads all Matadors, and is fourth in the conference with 2.71 o/rpg. 

ANYTHING BUT GREEN(E)

After a slow start in which he combined for 16 points through the first three games, Greene's production has picked up drastically as he has reached double figures in points in eight of his 17 appearances this season. On Saturday, Jan. 7 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 at that time with 12 points. Greene's 9.2 ppg average is the second-highest on the team.

IT'S BETTER TO RECEIVE THAN GIVE ...

Seventeen games into the season, the Matadors are forcing their opponents to commit a conference-high 16.6 turnovers per game. Leading the Big West with a +2.94 turnover margin, CSUN's turnover differential is more than one forced turnover higher than the +1.20 figure possessed by the conference's second-ranked team, Long Beach State. The Matadors have forced their opponents to commit 283 turnovers, the second-highest amount in the conference behind Long Beach State's 293. Aiding to the 49ers' forced turnover total is the fact that they have competed in 20 games in comparison to the Matadors' 17.

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

Tying his season high with six assists earned against Long Beach State on Jan. 7, Allan Guei was responsible for 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 collegiate home game against San Diego Christian (11/22/11).

THREE TIMES THE TROUBLE

Competing in only his second season as a Matador, Josh Greene is building a reputation as one of the most dangerous three-point threats in the Big West with his team-high with 28 baskets behind the arc. Trailing Greene by only one three-point field goal, Vinnie McGhee's 27.6 3-pt. percentage is third only to Greene's 28.6 percent clip, and Aqeel Quinn's team-high 30.2 3-pt. percentage. Connecting on 16-of-53 3-pt. shots, Aqeel Quinn rounds out CSUN's top three (min. 10 3-pt. FG made) from three.

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.

WELCOME BACK

The Cal State Northridge men's basketball program announced that 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 completing 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.

EARLY 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 hailing 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. 

CHEER FOR THE MATADORS AT 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 season.

Already featured nationally by ESPN on Nov. 15, 2011, at Hawai'i, and most recently on Fox Sports Prime Ticket last Saturday at Cal Poly, the Matadors' next television appearance will take place on Feb. 4, 2012, when Northridge travels the Walter Pyramid to face Big West preseason favorite Long Beach State. Fox Sports West will broadcast the return matchup between the Matadors and 49ers, that broadcast will begin at 7:30 p.m. CSUN's final Fox broadcast of the season will take place on Feb. 25, at UC Irvine, when the Matadors complete their season series against the Anteaters on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.

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 UC Davis. Northridge basketball fans are encouraged to check their local listings 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.

PRESEASON PREDICTIONS

Predicted to finish in eighth place last season as announced in the Big West Conference's annual preseason poll, the Matadors proved the experts wrong, eventually finishing the 2010-11 season in third place with a 9-7 conference record en route to their berth in the semifinals of the Big West Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim. 

This year, the pre-season results are exactly the same as CSUN tallied 61 points to earn another eighth-place finish, just two points behind a UC Davis squad that finished seventh, and six points ahead of ninth-place UC Irvine (55 points). Collecting 20 first-place votes from the 24-member voting panel for a total of 212 points, Long Beach State was selected the favorite to claim the 2011-12 Big West men's basketball title. UC Santa Barbara was picked to finish second in this year's media poll, receiving the four remaining first-place votes and 196 points, with Cal Poly rounding out the top three with 158 points. Cal State Fullerton finished fourth with 131 points, with UC Riverside and Pacific completing the poll in fifth and sixth place with 114 and 91 points.

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