Tulsa (3-0) vs. Cal State Northridge (4-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jenny Craig Pavilion (5,100) -- San Diego, California. Television: None. Home Record: Tulsa 1-0, CS Northridge 2-0. Away Record: Tulsa 0-0, CS Northridge 1-0. Neutral Record: Tulsa 2-0, CS Northridge 1-0. Conference Record: Tulsa 0-0, CS Northridge 0-0. Series Record: Tulsa leads 2-1.
GAME NOTES: In an intriguing matchup in the NUCDF Challenge a pair of undefeated teams will square off when the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and Cal State Northridge Matadors meet up at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Tulsa has sprinted out of the gates to a 3-0 record with wins by double digits in all three contests. In a matchup against event host San Diego on Friday night, the Golden Hurricane scored its fewest points of the season but still won in commanding fashion (63-51). Tulsa's other two victories were even more one-sided with wins over Northern Kentucky (76-56) and LSU-Shreveport (110-54). This is Tulsa's final game of the three-day event after which the Golden Hurricane return home for four of its next five games.
It has also been an excellent start for Cal State Northridge with the Matadors entering play at a perfect 4-0 overall. The Matadors have shown an ability to win close games with three of its four wins coming by six points or less. The most recent was a 68-64 win over Siena in the first game of the event. Before that the Matadors posted wins against San Diego (74-71), Eastern Washington (96-79) and Pepperdine (81-75). In its final game of the weekend, the Matadors face Division I newcomer Northern Kentucky.
In three previous meetings Tulsa has earned a 2-1 all-time series lead including wins in each of the last two meetings. The most recent was a 80-63 win by the Golden Hurricane during the 2010 season.
The Golden Hurricane looked vulnerable in the first half against San Diego and led by just a point at halftime (25-24). Tulsa woke up in the second half and hit on an even 50.0 percent of its shots to pull away for the double-digit win. The Golden Hurricane also had a 39-26 edge on the boards, while lead scorer D'Andre Wright scored 10 of his 14 points after the break.
There are four different players averaging in double figures for Tulsa through the first three games. Chief among them is James Woodard (16.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg) who at 6-foot-4 has the size to get inside and bang on the boards (4.3 pg) as well. From the inside Rashad Smith has been the anchor on offensively with the 6-foot-7 forward scoring 14.3 points per game but his efforts on the glass have been solid (5.0 rpg). Wright has been a real nice addition when he comes off the bench. The freshman forward is both scoring (10.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 ppg) at a high level for a player in his first season. Scottie Haralson has started in all three games but has been used primarily for his ability to shoot from beyond the arc where he is 8-of-18 on the season. As a team Tulsa has been solid at both ends of the floor this season with the Holden Hurricane scoring 83.0 points per game while limiting opponents to 53.7.
In a nip and tuck affair against Siena, Cal State Northridge was able to earn a victory thanks to a 9-4 spurt over the last three minutes that erased a one- point deficit and gave the Matadors enough of a cushion to hold on. Cal State Northridge's defense was strong in the game and turned 16 Siena turnovers into 26 points. Both Stephan Hicks (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Stephan Maxwell (19 points, 10 rebounds) both posted double-doubles in the victory.
If Maxwell and Hicks keep playing at the level they have been at through the first four games, the Matadors will be just fine this year. Hicks (18.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.2 spg) has stuffed the stat sheet while shooting at a scorching 60.5 percent from the field. Teams can't just focus on Hicks though with Maxwell (17.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 59.1 FG percentage) putting forth efforts that make him a double-double threat every night. In the backcourt Josh Greene (10.5 ppg, 5.2 apg) has been adept at finding open teammates but has not had as much success getting his own shot off (25.7 FG percentage). With the Matadors' trio of double-figure scorers, Cal State Northridge is scoring at a healthy 79.8 points per game clip this season. Hicks and Maxwell have also helped the Matadors pull down 40.5 rebounds per contest, which is more than five boards per game more than they averaged last season.
Cal State Northridge has really excelled early in the season with Maxwell and Hicks posting outstanding efforts on a nightly basis. Although Tulsa has proven to be able to slow teams down, that combo may be able to solve the Golden Hurricane.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Northridge 70, Tulsa 67
11/17 10:36:51 ET