Thursday, January 21, 2021

UCSB vs. CSUN Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

UCSB @ CSUN    Friday, Jan 22 and Saturday, Jan 23.  Both games are at 4pm

The Gauchos and Matadors meet for the 62nd time with the Gauchos holding a 40-21 advantage and the Matadors holding a two game winning streak having swept the Gauchos last season. 
The Matadors are off to a surprisingly decent start to the season given the massive roster turnover they experienced losing 2x All BW forward Lamine Diane and All BW guard Terrell Gomez among several others.   They went 3-2 in non conference with wins over Pepperdine, NMSU and Seattle.  They are 1-1 in Big West play after splitting their opening series with Fullerton this weekend which was their first games since Dec 28.  Of note, they played this series without their two leading scorers, TJ Starks and Lance Coleman.  
Their surpising start can be credited to newcomer Starks, stellar PG Darius Brown and their coaching staff for what they’ve been able to do given the circumstances.
The Matadors have 4 players averaging double figures in scoring, nearly 5 with forward Alex Merkvildaze at 9.7.  Have had to deal with injuries/player absences on top of the massive roster turnover from last year.  As mentioned, their two leading scorers missed the series vs. Fullerton along with several others.  It is not clear if  they’ll be playing this game. 

Possible Starters
Guard Darius Brown  #10 6’1”, 180lb, Junior  10.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.9 apg, 8.9 ATO ratio. 33 mpg.  Rock solid play with an unheard of ATO ratio of nearly 9!  Definitely an All BW 1st team candidate.
Guard TJ Starks  #2 6’2” 196 lbs, RS Junior 18 ppg, 2.5 apg, 2.7 rpg, 31 mpg. 
Leads team in scoring and in getting to the line, shoots 40% from deep, tied for team lead in 3pt makes.  Second on team in assists.  Transfer from Texas A&M.  DNP vs. Fullerton. 
Forward Lance Coleman  #00  6’6”, 205 lb  RS Senior  15.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 28 mpg
Second leading scorer.  DNP vs. Fullerton.  Not sure of his status for this game. Tied for team lead in 3pt makes, 33%.
Forward Festus Ndumanya #11  6’7”, 220 lb  Sophomore, 6.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 21 mpg
Forward Alex Merkvildaze #23 6’9”, 225 lb, Freshman 9.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 28 mpg, 10/30 from deep.
Has started every game, putting up great numbers as a freshman.  From Georgia (Eastern Europe)
Possible Key Reserves
Guard Vante Hendrix  #14 6’5”, 195lb, RS Junior 12.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 33 mpg
Shoots 31% from deep. Transfer from New Mexico.  Missed the first 6 games of the season, averaging 33 mpg since eligible.  Teams 3rd leading scorer by average, not an accurate shooter but is solid at the line (82%) and is getting there over 5x per game.
Guard Brendan Harrick  #32 6’5”, 190lb, RS Sophomore  6 ppg, 17 mpg,
Started this last weekend, filling in for Starks.  Was key to the win over the Titans in the first game, hitting 7 three pointers.  Shoots 36% from deep. Great Nephew of Matador Asst Coach Jim Harrick
Guard Atin Wright #4 6’1”, 160lb, Freshman  5 ppg, 10 mpg,
Was the team’s leading scorer in the second Fullerton game.  Successful in getting to the line, made 9 of 10 FT attempts in that game.
Forward Miles Brookins #5  6’9”, 220 lb. RS Junior 6.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 17 mpg.
Another DNP vs. Fullerton, not sure of status
Guard Amound Anderson #11 6’3”, 185 lb, Freshman  3.8 ppg, 14 mpg 5 assists vs. 14 TOs.
Forward Fidelis Okureke #24  6’6”, 240 lb. Freshman 3.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 11 mpg.
Another DNP vs. Fullerton, not sure of status

These are games that UCSB should win, regardless of the Matador's roster status but if they're missing four players again, the Gauchos should win fairly easily.  If the Dor's sport a full roster, I see two tough games, especially the first one.

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