Northern Colorado (1-0) at Cal Poly (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 15, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mott Gym (3,032) -- San Luis Obispo, California. Television: None. Home Record: Northern Colorado 1-0, Cal Poly 0-0. Away Record: Northern Colorado 0-0, Cal Poly 0-1. Neutral Record: Northern Colorado 0-0, Cal Poly 0-0. Conference Record: Northern Colorado 0-0, Cal Poly 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAMES NOTES: Cal Poly will have its home opener on Thursday night when the Mustangs host the Northern Colorado Bears in a non-conference matchup at Mott Gym.
In its home opener, Northern Colorado more than handled Southwest of the NAIA with a 127-81 rout at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. The win was an nice way to start for the Bears who will play five of their next six games on the road beginning with this matchup against Cal Poly.
As for the Mustangs, their season did not get off on the right foot. Cal Poly got involved in a defensive struggle against TCU in Forth Worth, but couldn't come up with enough offense in a 56-53 loss to the Horned Frogs. Cal Poly will remain at home in its next matchup against Fresno State before a huge test at UCLA on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
The all-time series between these squads has been split with each team securing a victory in the two previous meetings. Northern Colorado won the only game held in the Mott Gym with a 76-62 win in 1990. As part of the BracketBusters weekend last season Cal Poly went into Greeley, Colorado and came away with an 81-73 triumph.
The Bears scored at will in their season opening win. Northern Colorado shot an efficient 71.2 percent from the floor in the contest, including an 11-of-20 effort from beyond the arc. The Bears' offense was able to run smoothly thanks to its passing, with the squad totaling an eye-popping 33 assists.
Five different players scored in double figures for Northern Arizona against Southwest. Connor Osborne led the way with 19 points, while also grabbing five rebounds. Other starters in double figures included Tim Huskisson (16) and Derrick Barden (12). From the bench, Paul Garnica put in 18 points and Bryce Douvier had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Garnica and Osborne are the players most likely to keep scoring at a high level. Garnica (9.3 ppg) provided pop off the bench last season and Osborne (7.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg) was solid as a starter. Guards Tate Unruh (11.3 ppg) and Tevin Svihovec (10.8 ppg) were the only players on the squad to score in double figures last season but both took backseats with the Bears giving a number of reserves larger minutes than they will play going forward.
While Northern Colorado had no trouble scoring in its opener, Cal Poly struggled mightily on the offensive end in its first game. The Mustangs connected on only 35.2 percent of its shots and failed to get to the line (4- of-6) with any regularity. Brian Bennett (10 points) was the only player to score in double figures.
Bennett did more than power the weakened offense as he posted a double-double with 11 rebounds to go with his 10 points. Bennett is part of a Cal Poly roster that features seven freshmen. Junior forward Chris Eversley was one of the best returning players to a team that lost four starters coming into this season. Eversley (8.2 ppg, 4.8 ppg) played in all 33 games last season, primarily as a reserve, but failed to impress in his first game as a regular starter by finishing with just eight points on 4-of-15 shooting, including misses on all four shots from beyond the arc. Another holdover from last season Drake U'u (6.1 ppg, 3.7 apg) was the top reserve in the opener, playing 20 minutes, but he had only three points on 1-of-9 shooting.
Even though it could not capture a win due to its offensive deficiencies against TCU, Cal Poly played tough on the road. The Mustangs should be able to improve on offense at home against a Northern Colorado squad that really didn't face much of a test in its first game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal Poly 65, Northern Colorado 60
11/15 10:35:52 ET