Long Beach State (13-9) at Cal State Northridge (13-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 10:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Matadome (1,600) -- Northridge, California. Television: None. Home Record: LBSU 8-2, CSUN 5-4. Away Record: LBSU 5-7, CSUN 5-7. Neutral Record: LBSU 0-0, CSUN 3-0. Conference Record: LBSU 9-2, CSUN 4-8. Series Record: Long Beach State leads, 33-20.
GAME NOTES: After snapping their season-long, eight-game win streak on Thursday night, the Long Beach State 49ers will try to get back on track as they prepare for a Big West Conference duel with the Cal State Northridge Matadors at The Matadome.
LBSU traveled out to Hawaii on Thursday night and was saddled with a 94-73 loss to fall to 13-9 overall, including just 5-7 on the road. Still, thanks to the 49ers' lengthy winning streak, they remain alone atop the Big West standings at 9-2.
CSUN's slate of conference games did not start off the way it had planned, as it dropped each of its first seven Big West contests. Since then however, the Matadors have won four of five, including three in a row, most recently winning a home tilt against UC Irvine on Thursday (70-61) to move to 13-11 overall and 4-8 in conference action.
LBSU conquered a home test in the first meeting between the squads this season, 78-69, on Jan. 9, to take a 33-20 advantage in the all-time series. The 49ers have now won seven in a row over the Matadors.
The 49ers were incredibly sluggish to start their game against Hawaii, as they went into the break with an insurmountable 33-point deficit, and even though they put together an impressive 53-point second half, it was barely enough to make a dent in the Rainbow Warriors' advantage. Pacing four teammates in double figures was Tony Freeland, who shot 6-of-9 from the field for 18 points. Keala King added 14 points and five steals, while James Ennis and Mike Caffey chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively. Oddly enough, despite sitting in first place, LBSU actually scores fewer points (68.9 ppg) than it allows (70.9 ppg), but that is mostly due to blowout losses earlier in the season to national powerhouses Arizona, North Carolina, Syracuse, Ohio State and UCLA. Ennis leads the team in both scoring (17.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg), while Caffey brings 11.9 ppg and 4.1 apg to the table. Freeland (10.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Dan Jennings (9.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and King (9.1 ppg, 3.3 apg) are also regular contributors.
CSUN faced a nine-point halftime deficit at home to UCI on Thursday, but it stepped up its play after the break, outscoring the Anteaters, 46-28, on its way to the nine-point win. Despite shooting less than 39 percent from the floor, the Matadors still had four players in double figures, led by Josh Greene with 21 points. Trevone Williams (14 points) and Donovan Johnson (11 points) both played crucial roles off the bench, while Stephen Maxwell tallied a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. With one of the conference's best players in Stephan Hicks (16.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg) out indefinitely with a knee injury, Maxwell (14.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Greene (13.4 ppg) have stepped up to become the top scoring options. Greene nets greater than 38 percent of his 3- point attempts and is also an outstanding foul shooter (.859). CSUN is the second-highest scoring squad in the Big West (76.6 ppg), but it is oftentimes hindered by a porous defense (74.0 ppg).
CSUN has taken care of business of late, but it will have a difficult time tackling the Big West's top squad without the help of Hicks. LBSU could experience fatigue flying back from Hawaii on short rest, but it should be able power through to get back on the winning track.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Long Beach State 72, Cal State Northridge 69
02/09 10:35:10 ET