FACTS & STATS: Site: Alex G. Spanos Center (6,150) -- Stockton, California. Television: Big West TV. Home Record: UCR 4-4, Pacific 6-2. Away Record: UCR 1-7, Pacific 2-5. Neutral Record: UCR 0-2, Pacific 2-1. Conference Record: UCR 2-4, Pacific 4-2. Series Record: Pacific leads, 18-4.
GAME NOTES: The Pacific Tigers return to the Spanos Center for a Big West Conference tilt against the UC Riverside Highlands on Thursday.
This will be the 23rd meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Pacific holds an 18-4 all-time series edge after its 62-50 decision in the last meeting on Feb. 2, 2012.
The Highlanders are coming off a 68-58 win over UC Irvine that snapped a three-game losing streak and improved them to 5-13 overall (2-4 Big West). UC Riverside has not been too stellar on the road this season, going just 1-7 in true away tests. Chris Patton notched a career-high 21 points in each of his past two games to raise his scoring average to a team-best 16.2 ppg. Chris Harriel chips in 11.1 ppg while Josh Fox makes his presence known with 9.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per tilt.
UC Riverside has the least threatening offensive attack in the Big West with an average scoring output of just 60.4 points. It is the fourth best in the league in scoring defense at 67.2 ppg, but it also has the worst assist-to- turnover margin (0.8) in the conference as well. In addition to Patton's career-high versus UC Irvine, Harriel chipped in 17 points, six boards and four blocks while Fox registered a double-double of 10 points and boards. The Highlands overshot their scoring offense average dealt out 13 assists to 11 turnovers.
The strong performance will need to continue for UC Riverside, as it prepares to take on the Tigers, who are in sole possession of second place in the Big West standings (4-2) after their 74-62 decision over Cal State Northridge on Saturday. Pacific has won four of its last five and has defeated notable teams such as Xavier, Saint Mary's, and Nevada. The Tigers boast just one double figure scorer in Lorenzo McCloud at 11.2 points per game, but they shoot 47.0 percent as a team including 36.8 percent from beyond the arc.
The Tigers are the second best defensive squad in the Big West with only 64.5 points allowed per contest. They were not overwhelming versus CSN, as the Matadors left points on the board with their 22-of-37 showing at the charity stripe. Ross Rivera provided a huge spark off the bench with 16 points in 18 minutes to lift Pacific to the decision. Travis Fulton tallied 12 points and McCloud contributed 10 points to go along with five assists while all 10 of the Tigers who saw action managed to make a mark in the scoring column. Pacific shot a red-hot 61.5 percent from the floor in the opening stanza to build a 15-point lead by halftime and held off Northridge by outscoring it 21-5 in points off of turnovers.
The homecourt edge should be enough to help Pacific collect another victory in this one. UC Riverside will remain competitive as long as Patton continues his hot streak. However, the Tigers have great depth which makes it very difficult to get into a rhythm against them.