BAKERSFIELD, Calif.- With an anticipated sellout crowd on hand and San Joaquin Valley bragging rights on the line, the CSUB Roadrunners (2-1) will host Fresno State (2-1) Tuesday night at the Icardo Center, their first of four games this holiday week.
Both teams come in off conference-tournament championships last season and appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Fresno State leads the all-time series 8-4 and has won the last seven meetings including the last two in Bakersfield. The Roadrunners enter the week having once again received votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll for the second week in a row.
The Roadrunners and Bulldogs are both coming off victories Saturday night as Bakersfield managed a gritty 77-70 win over visiting UC Santa Barbara behind a record night from three-point range as redshirt sophomore forward Damiyne Durham sank eight three-pointers as the Roadrunners claimed the victory in the first of two meetings this season with the Gauchos.
Fresno State comes in at 2-1 with wins over UT San Antonio and Lamar, their lone loss game to the hands of Prairie View A&M 84-68 on Nov. 14. The Bulldogs bounced back with a much better performance on Saturday night as they handled Lamar 83-64. Junior transfer Jaron Hopkins led Fresno State with 24 points, the transfer from Colorado was also supported with senior Paul Watson scoring 17 in the win for Fresno State. The Bulldogs lost two starters and four letter winners from last season’s NCAA Tournament team and are playing without forward Karachi Edo who is academically ineligible until mid-December. Edo averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game last season.
Watson leads the Bulldogs with 18 points-per-game while Hopkins is adding 17 per contest for Fresno State who is shooting 48% from the field and 36% from three-point range through their first two games.
The Roadrunners are led by senior forward Jaylin Airington who is averaging 21 points-per-game for CSUB and shooting 43% from the field and 47% from three-point range. Airington’s 21 ppg average ranks 64th in the nation, he scored 18 points on 4-11 from the field and 4-6 from three-point range in Saturday’s victory. Airington made key back-to-back three-pointers in the final minutes to stretch CSUB’s lead to double figures over the Gauchos.
After Durham’s record night for the Roadrunners against UC Santa Barbara, he is averaging 19 ppg for CSUB while shooting 46% from the field and 43% from three-point range. Defensively the Roadrunners have forced 59 turnovers through three games and are allowing an average of just 67.3 ppg from their opponents. The ‘Runners forced 21 turnovers on Saturday night which led to 37 points in the win.
Tickets are expected to be sold out by game time with fewer than 300 seats remaining. The Icardo Center ticket window will open at 11 A.M. on game day for purchases. Students will also be able to claim their student tickets beginning at 5:30 P.M. on Tuesday at the Icardo Center. Several hundred student-tickets were set aside for the game and not included in the public sale.
Fans are encouraged to wear gold as part of the 'Gold Rush' promotion. The game sponsor In-Shape will be providing gold t-Shirts to the first 500 fans through the doors.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 P.M., fans unable to attend the game because of the sellout can listen locally on Newstalk 1180 & 96.1 FM KERN or watch online via the WAC Digital Network at www.wacsports.com/watch.
The Roadrunners will then head to the Men vs. Breast Cancer Classic in Dayton, Ohio for games later this week vs. Wright State, North Florida and North Dakota.