GAME NOTES: A pair of unbeaten Big West Conference foes will clash on Thursday night at Mott Gym, as the Cal Poly Mustangs play host to the Cal State Northridge Matadors.
CSUN ended non-conference action with back-to-back losses but has since righted the ship with two straight wins to open up league play, beating UC Davis on Jan. 9 (89-77) before downing Hawaii on Saturday (79-78). The surge has allowed the Matadors to improve to 10-7 overall, although they are just 1-6 in true road games.
Just like CSUN, Cal Poly was also reeling at the end of its non-conference slate of games with four straight setbacks only to begin Big West action at 2-0 with wins versus Hawaii (77-65) and at UC Santa Barbara (72-64). The Mustangs, who are just 6-9 overall, have played only five games at Mott Gym this season (4-1).
In regards to the all-time series, Cal Poly has a 48-43 advantage over CSUN, which includes victories in both matchups during the 2012-13 campaign by a combined 29 points.
In a game that consisted of 12 ties and 16 lead changes in just a little over one half of action, CSUN grabbed hold of the advantage early in the second half of its latest game against Hawaii with a 6-0 run and managed to hold on down the stretch for a one-point lead. It shot an impressive 47.9 percent from the field, but the real story came at the foul line, as it was able to fend off the Rainbow Warriors by knocking down 28-of-31 at the stripe. Stephen Maxwell was the catalyst in the triumph, shooting 10-of-13 from the field for 24 points while making it a double-double with 10 rebounds. Aaron Parks made all eight of his free-throw attempts on his way to 19 points off the bench, while Josh Greene (15 points) drained 9-of-10 at the line.
The Matadors have become accustomed to high-scoring affairs this season, as their impressive offensive attack (.477 FG percentage, 76.3 ppg) is just strong enough to outpace their opponents (.450, 75.3 ppg). Maxwell (17.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and Stephan Hicks (17.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg) are an outstanding one-two punch, with each shooting greater than 54 percent from the field. Greene (15.2 ppg) gets his share as well thanks to a 46.1 percent showing from beyond the arc.
Cal Poly pieced together an impressive road win in its most recent game, going up by four at intermission at UCSB before eventually hanging on for the eight- point win. It shot a solid 45.3 percent from the floor, which included a blistering 11-of-18 showing from 3-point distance, and most importantly it took care of the basketball with just three turnovers. Anthony Silvestri was feeling it from long range, draining 5-of-7 from 3-point territory for 17 points off the bench. Dave Nwaba (14 points), Chris Eversley (13) and Taylor Sutlive (11) also contributed to the well-rounded effort.
On the season, the Mustangs' calling card has been their stout play on the defensive end of the floor, as they allow 65.1 ppg on 42 percent from the field. It's a good thing too, because they net just 66.2 ppg themselves. Eversley is the go-to option, scoring 14.1 ppg, while adding a team-best 7.0 rpg as well. Nwaba (12.0 ppg) shoots a lofty 60.7 percent from the field, while Kyle Odister (9.2 ppg) has a team-high 32 3-pointers.
Although CSUN's offensive attack is clearly superior to Cal Poly's, it will have a tough time getting going on the road against such a strong defense. Expect the Mustangs to remain unbeaten in league play with a physical victory.
Game Date and Time