GAME NOTES: The Matadors of Cal State Northridge hope to continue their stellar start to the 2012-13 season as they pull into Los Angeles for Wednesday night's non-conference clash with the UCLA Bruins.
Northridge opened the campaign with five straight wins, its best start since joining the Division I ranks in 1990-91, but suffered its lone setback the last time out as it dropped an 87-75 decision to BYU on Saturday. The Matadors are one of the least experienced teams in the country, as there isn't one senior on the roster. Still, the squad plays with reckless abandon and is looking forward to challenging in the Big West Conference, which it will begin play in on Dec. 28 at Hawaii.
UCLA had begun the season with three straight wins, but the team has dropped two of its last three, the most recent of which being a 70-68 verdict at home to Cal Poly on Sunday. As a result, the Bruins have been bounced from this week's AP poll, and following this clash they will host nationally-ranked San Diego State on Saturday. UCLA will play its first Pac-12 Conference game of the season versus California on Jan. 3, 2013.
UCLA owns a 6-1 lead in the all-time series with CSUN, and all meetings have taken place at Pauley Pavilion.
The Matadors are putting up 79.3 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of 43.8 percent overall, .311 from three-point range and .789 from the free throw line. Defensively, the team yields 72.9 ppg with foes shooting 43.5 percent from the floor, which includes a 34.7 percent showing from beyond the arc. the team boasts three double-digit scorers in the form of Stephan Hicks (18.4 ppg, 8.4 ppg), Stephen Maxwell (14.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Josh Greene (13.9 ppg, 5.0 apg). Hicks hit for 25 points, Maxwell had 17 and Greene chipped in 13, but those efforts went for naught as CSUN dropped a 12-point decision to BYU the last time out. Hicks pulled down eight boards, helping the Matadors corral 37 loose balls in the game. Unfortunately, the Cougars came up with 39 rebounds and scored 22 points at the foul line compared to 16 for CSUN.
UCLA led Cal Poly 29-27 at the half, but the Mustangs took control after the break, shooting 57.7 percent from the floor and nailing six three-pointers in the second half to knock off the Bruins on their own floor. Freshman Shabazz Muhammad led the home team with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Travis Wear added 14 points and Jordan Adams tacked on 13 in 20 minutes of action off the bench. UCLA was outscored in the paint (28-16), and in second-chance points (12-6), but the team only committed nine turnovers. For the season, Adams leads the way with 18.5 ppg, while Muhammad has certainly made his presence felt with 17.0 ppg in just three games. Travis Wear nets 11.8 ppg, and David Wear and Norman Powell chip in 10.2 ppg apiece. Kyle Anderson (8.3 rpg, 3.5 apg) is the top glass cleaner, while Larry Drew III (7.3 apg) serves as the unit's primary playmaker. As a team. UCLA is averaging 77.3 ppg while allowing 68.7 ppg.
The Bruins have faltered of late, which is somewhat surprising considering the emergence of Muhammad. UCLA has the home court advantage in this one, but the Matadors have the pieces in place to earn just their second victory ever against their in-state foe.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Northridge 75, UCLA 72
11/28 11:01:33 ET
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