CSU BAKERSFIELD (15-7) vs. NM State (22-2)
|Points Per Game||72.5||78.9|
|Field Goal Pct.||.455||.473|
|3-point FG Pct.||.365||.349|
|Free throw Pct.||.636||.715|
|Rebounds Per Game||38.5||39.8|
|Assists Per Game||14.6||15|
|Turnovers Per Game||15.3||14.1|
|Steals Per Game||8.2||4.7|
|Blocks Per Game||3.0||4.0|
BAKERSFIELD. Calif.- In a rematch of last season’s Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game, the CSUB Roadrunners (15-7, 6-1 WAC) and NM State (22-2, 8-0 WAC) will meet Thursday night at the Icardo Center at 7 P.M. with first-place on the line in the WAC.
The Roadrunners won that game last season in Las Vegas 57-54 but the Aggies won the first meeting in Las Cruces, N.M. this season 63-58. The Roadrunners led for much of that game before the Aggies managed a key three-pointer and several free-throws down the stretch to earn the win. The Roadrunners are coming off a 6-1 start to conference play and have won four-straight games after Saturday night’s 65-62 win at Grand Canyon.
The Aggies, at 8-0 in WAC play hold a 1.5 game lead over CSUB for first place, a Roadrunners win would create a virtual-tie for the top spot with six conference games to play. NM State is in the midst of a 20-game winning streak, the second-longest active streak in the nation behind top-ranked Gonzaga (24).
CSUB is led by senior Jaylin Airington who is leading four Roadrunners in double figures with his 15 ppg. Damiyne Durham adds 14 ppg while Dedrick Basile is averaging 13 points per contest as well. Senior forward Matt Smith is chipping in 11 ppg this season but has averaged 15 ppg over the first six WAC games including a career-high 23 at Chicago State two weeks ago. Smith is also shooting a team-high 59% from the field.
NM State is led by senior guard Ian Baker’s 16 ppg. Baker led NM State with 13 points in the first matchup on Jan. 14. Baker was just 2-6 from the field but 8-9 from the free-throw line. Braxton Huggins adds 14 per contest while Eli Chuha chips in 12 per contest for the Aggies.
Both teams rank near the top of the WAC in a variety of categories. NM State leads the WAC in scoring margin (13.4), field goal percentage (47.3), three-point field goal percentage defense (28.7), rebounding (39.8), rebounding defense (32.5), rebounding margin (7.2) and blocks (4.08). CSUB is tops in scoring defense allowing opponents just 64.1 ppg., field goal percentage defense (38.9), steals (8.23) and offensive rebounds (13.27). The Roadrunners rank 33rd in the NCAA with their 64.1 ppg allowed while the 17 turnovers forced per game is 10th-most in the nation.
Thursday’s game will be broadcast live on ESPN 3 as part of the WAC Digital Network’s ‘Game of the Week’ coverage. It will also be carried on Newstalk 1180/96.1 FM KERN. The ‘Dignity Health Pregame Show’ begins at 6:30 P.M., tipoff is scheduled for 7 P.M. at the Icardo Center.