Cal State Northridge (13-12) at Pacific (13-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Spanos Center (6,000) -- Stockton, California. Television: None. Home Record: CSN 5-5, Pacific 9-2. Away Record: CSN 5-7, Pacific 2-7. Neutral Record: CSN 3-0, Pacific 2-1. Conference Record: CSN 4-9, Pacific 7-4. Series Record: Pacific leads, 23-6.
GAMES NOTES: The Cal State Northridge Matadors will kick off a three-game road trip on Thursday night as they contend with the Pacific Tigers in Big West action at the Spanos Center.
A three-game winning streak was put to an end for Cal State Northridge last time out when the Matadors were defeated, 83-80 by conference-leading Long Beach State. After the setback the Matadors are now 13-12 overall, including a record of just 4-9 in conference action which has them sitting second to last in the conference. A bout with UC Irvine on Saturday continues the road trip for the Matadors.
As for Pacific, it has lost consecutive games after a three-game winning streak of its own. The most recent setback came in a 66-53 loss to UC Santa Barbara which dropped the Tigers to 13-10 overall and 7-4 in conference play. Pacific has enjoyed its time at the Spanos Center generally where the team has a record of 9-2 this season and where the Tigers will play again on Saturday against Hawaii.
Pacific has dominated the all-time series between these two squads with a record of 23-6 against Cal State Northridge. The Tigers won the first meeting this season, 74-62, and have now won six of the last seven matchups.
Cal State Northridge failed to get enough defensive pressure, especially on the perimeter against Long Beach State. The Matadors allowed the 49ers to shoot 49.1 percent from the field overall, knocking down 13-of-29 shots from beyond the arc.
Lead scorer Stephen Hicks (16.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg) was once again sidelined in the loss. Hicks has missed four straight games and is likely out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. In his place Stephen Maxwell (14.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Josh Greene (13.4 ppg, 3.8 apg) have needed to step up and each has done so in turn but no other player on the roster is scoring more than 6.5 points per game. Without Hicks the Matadors have still scored well as they rank second in the conference in points (76.7 ppg) and third in assists (15.6 apg). Unfortunately by allowing 74.3 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting, the defensive efforts have been lacking.
In its loss to UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Pacific managed to connect on just 30.4 percent of its shots from the floor. Meanwhile on the other end the Tigers let the Gauchos hit an even 50 percent of their shots from the field including 10-of-20 from 3-point range.
Despite shooting an efficient 45.9 percent from the field on the season, Pacific is still just the seventh best scoring team in the conference (68 pg). Pacific has also left much to be desired on the glass as it brings in the second fewest rebounds per game (31.4) among Big West units. Lorenzo McCloud (11.3 ppg, 4.0 apg) is the only player on the roster scoring more than 8.5 points per game, while ranking among the top 10 players in the Big West in assists. Sama Taku (8.5 ppg) teams with McCloud in the backcourt as the team's second best scoring option. Travis Fulton (8.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg) leads the way in the frontcourt.
Without Hicks the Matadors have lost a big part of their potent offense. That could yet again get exposed on the road against a Pacific team that plays well at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pacific 68, Cal State Northridge 64
02/14 10:31:12 ET