November 22, 2013

Bears Men's Basketball starts Colorado Challenge against New Mexico State, Colorado State

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Northern Colorado notes | New Mexico State notes | Colorado State notes | Big Sky notes

Collin Boyles
UNCBears.com

GREELEY -- Just as soon as the Northern Colorado men's basketball team was opening its home schedule against Colorado Christian, the team now moves on to a couple tough road tests at New Mexico State and Colorado State.

Head Coach B.J. Hill and the team will begin the Colorado State Challenge in Las Cruces, N.M., while taking on the New Mexcio State Aggies at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20. The Bears and Aggies have met five times with the most recent matchup coming on Nov. 12, 2011. The Bears lead the all-time series, 3-2, including an 82-80 win in Las Cruces on Feb. 19, 2011.

Senior Derrick Barden (Detroit, Mich.) put a heavy load on his shoulders during the first half of UNC's 98-74 win against Colorado Christian on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The forward recorded his second double-double of the season in as many games, ending the first half with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and totaling 14 points and tying a career-high 17 rebounds set in the season opener.

The Bears used balanced scoring to build a 45-32 lead going into halftime, and came out of halftime even stronger. The Cougars were held scoreless for about five minutes coming out of halftime. In that span, the Bears scored eight points to build a 53-32 lead with 15:44 remaining in the game. Seven Bears in total scored in double-digits while the team also outrebounded the Cougars by 21, 52-31.

The Aggies of NMSU won two games over the past week, including the finale of the Outrigger Hotels and Resort Rainbow Classic in Hawaii on Tuesday, Nov. 12. NMSU used strong shooting in the first half, and even better shooting in the second to take down Hawaii, 95-88. After building a 46-37 lead at halftime, the Aggies gave up 51 points but scored 49 in the second half to secure the victory.

NMSU followed up three days later with a more convincing win at home against UTEP. Junior guard Daniel Mullings paced the Aggies with a game-high 26 points in the 86-73 win. NMSU was able to hold UTEP to a lower shooting percentage in both halves despite leading at the half by just four, 37-33. The second half was the difference maker for the Aggies and Mullings, where he scored 15 of his 26 points to cement the victory.

Colorado State also played two games over the past week, winning at home and falling on the road. The Rams first fell to the No. 15 ranked Bulldogs of Gonzaga on Monday, Nov. 11. The Bulldogs handled the Rams the entire way, outscoring the visitors 47-26 in the first half and again 46-35 in the second to set the final at 93-61. Gonzaga shot 57.6% from the field for the game compared to Colorado State's 32.1%, the lowest in the team's first three games. The game was a one-man scoring show for the Rams, as Jon Octeus provided 27 points in 38 minutes played. No individual was able to grab more than five rebounds.

The Rams earned their win of the week at home against Northern Colorado's Big Sky Conference foe Weber State. The tables were flipped for CSU as they shot 53.6% and had four players score in double-figures. J.J. Avila went off while shooting 10-of-19 from the field and 9-of-9 from the free throw line to total 30 points on the day. The Rams were able to stifle the Wildcats in the paint, outscoring their opponent 44-26.

Game Details

Game 3: Northern Colorado (2-0, 0-0 Big Sky) vs. New Mexico State (2-1, 0-0 WAC)
When: 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20
Where: Pan American Center – Las Cruces, N.M.
Coaches: Bears - B.J. Hill (45-48 @ UNC) vs. NMSU – Marvin Menzies (128-79 @ NMSU)
All-time series: UNC, 3-2

Series Record
Dec. 18, 1941 Northern Colorado 36-31 (ot, Las Cruces, N.M.)
Dec. 19, 1941 Northern Colorado 35-30 (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Dec. 13, 1961 New Mexico State 58-45 (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Feb. 19, 2011 Northern Colorado 82-80 (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Nov. 12, 2011 New Mexico State 89-75 (Greeley, Colo.)

Game Details
Game 4: Northern Colorado (2-0, 0-0 Big Sky) vs. Colorado State (2-1, 0-0 MWC)
When: 7:05 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22
Where: Moby Arena – Fort Collins, Colo.
Coaches: Bears - B.J. Hill (45-48 @ UNC) vs. CSU – Larry Eustachy (28-10 @ CSU)
All-time series: CSU, 68-37

Series Record (Last Five)
Nov. 18, 2008 Colorado State 85-74 (Fort Collins, Colo.)
Dec. 1, 2009 Northern Colorado 70-63 (Greeley, Colo.)
Dec. 20, 2010 Colorado State 75-61 (Fort Collins, Colo.)
Dec. 22, 2011 Colorado State 92-78 (Greeley, Colo.)
Nov. 26, 2012 Colorado State 85-69 (Fort Collins, Colo.)

Game Notes
- The Bears are ranked third in NCAA Division I in RPI with an RPI of .8333. New Mexico State and Colorado State come in at 158th and 148th, respectively.
- Northern Colorado will be facing New Mexico State for the third time in four seasons, while playing Colorado State for the ninth straight season. UNC and NMSU have split their two previous matchups, both winning a game on the other's home court. It's been years since the Bears have taken down the Rams, last winning against CSU on December 1, 2009, 70-63, and last winning on the road at CSU on December 2, 1986 in a 56-54 game.
- Northern Colorado last started the season 2-0 in 2010-11, the season the Bears won the Big Sky and earned a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bears last started 4-0 the season before in 2009-10 when the team won its first seven games in a row.
- Senior Derrick Barden couldn't have started the 2013-14 any stronger after recording back-to-back double-doubles and grabbing a career-high 17 rebounds in each of two games. Barden's 17 rebounds per game are four more than the second-highest. He now has 23 double-doubles in 32 career starts with the Bears.
- Senior guard Tate Unruh (Branson, Mo.) is just two 3-pointers away from becoming fifth on UNC's all-time 3-point list. He currently sits at 171 and trails Marvin Jones (1994-97). Unruh also just moved into eighth in 3-point attempts with 391. He needs four to move into seventh ahead of Matt Kline (2003-07).
- Northern Colorado's defense has been getting to the glass and outrebounding its opponents in the 2013-14 season. The team averages 16 more defensive and 15 total rebounds per game more than its opponents.