Cal State Northridge (13-14) at Southern Utah (10-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 9:35 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Centrum (5,200) -- Cedar City, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: CSUN 5-5, SUU 8-3. Away Record: CSUN 5-9, SUU 2-10. Neutral Record: CSUN 3-0, SUU 0-2. Conference Record: CSUN 4-11, SUU 8-8. Series Record: Southern Utah leads, 13-5.
GAME NOTES: The Cal State Northridge Matadors look to end their three-game losing slide as they step out of Big West action to tangle with the Southern Utah Thunderbirds at The Centrum as part of this season's BracketBuster event.
This will be the 19th meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Southern Utah holds a 13-5 all-time series lead coming into Saturday. These schools have not squared off since 1998 when the Thunderbirds downed the Matadors, 83-77, at the BYU Classic in Provo, Utah.
The Matadors will be playing their final road game of the 2012-13 campaign after dropping decisions to Long Beach State (83-80), Pacific (66-59) and UC Davis (73-61) in their last three outings to fall a game below the .500 mark. Coach Bobby Braswell's unit has seen limited success in true road tests, winning five of 14 to this point. Northridge utilizes a talented forward tandem of Stephan Hicks and Stephen Maxwell within its system. Hicks is netting 16.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, while Maxwell chimes in with 14.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest.
Hicks paced the Matadors in their recent loss to UC Davis with 17 points on 5- of-10 shooting from the field, but Maxwell failed to reach double figures by a point in the contest. Maxwell did however manage to grab seven rebounds and swipe four steals while Josh Greene chipped in 12 points. The performance was disheartening for Northridge, as it hit on just 39.6 percent of its field-goal tries to be held under its season scoring average (72.1) by more than 10 points. Defense has not been a strong suit for the Matadors at any point this season and it showed against the Aggies, as Corey Hawkins pumped in 31 points for UC Davis as it shot 54.3 percent from the floor including 11-of-25 from beyond the arc.
The Thunderbirds finished a four-game road swing last Saturday with an 86-72 loss at Eastern Washington which marked their third loss in a row. The streak of defeats dropped SUU to a 10-15 overall record, including its 8-8 standing against Big Sky foes. Jackson Stevenett posted 26 points in the setback to the Eagles. The senior forward has now scored 22 points or more in four consecutive games to lift his team-leading scoring average to 17.7 ppg.
A.J. Hess added 24 points with the help of five makes from beyond the arc for SUU in its loss to EWU. Hess' scoring outburst came after the freshman swingman tallied just six total points in his previous two games. The Thunderbirds were outscored, 38-12, in the paint as they shot 32.8 percent from the floor to the Eagles' 53.7 percent field-goal efficiency. Damon Heuir, who is second on the team in scoring with 16.2 ppg, was held to only three points on 1-of-4 shooting by EWU. Nick Robinson's squad is below the median in the Big Sky in both scoring (67.5) and scoring defense (72.3).
The Matadors have been very inconsistent this season. They need both of their high-scoring forwards to show up in this one to close out their road trip with success. SUU is in the same boat, as Heuir cannot afford to disappear and leave it all up Stevenett again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Utah 73, Cal State Northridge 70
02/23 10:37:04 ET