UCLA Bruins vs. CSU Northridge Matadors Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 19th 2023

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UCLA returns home for its first game at Pauley Pavilion in December to face Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

UCLA (5-4) followed a 65-56 loss at Villanova on Dec. 9 with Saturday’s 67-60 setback against Ohio State at the CBS Sports Classic in Atlanta.

The Bruins were outscored 45-37 in the second half, and 14-9 in in the final 3:16.

“Young players break down faster. We can’t impose our will,” Bruins coach Mick Cronin said. “Really, really good teams get better in the second half. We get worse. The only way to solve that is to be deeper because nobody is going to become a sophomore or a junior until next year.”

Five of UCLA’s top 10 scorers this season are freshmen, led by Sebastian Mack with 13.7 points per game. The Bruins’ depth took a hit ahead of the Villanova matchup when one of those freshmen — Berke Buyuktuncel — sustained an ankle injury in UCLA’s 66-65 win over UC Riverside on Nov. 30.

Buyuktuncel was not cleared by the NCAA to play until Nov. 20, but he broke into the starting lineup with averages of 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game prior to his injury.

UCLA aims to regroup against a Cal State Northridge team that has won four of its past five games.

The Matadors (7-3) closed out their 80-75 win over Utah Tech on Dec. 11 with a 10-2 run before allowing a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Five Cal State Northridge scorers reached double figures, led by Dionte Bostick’s 19 points.

At 15.4 points per game, Bostick is one of three Matadors averaging more than 13 points per contest for the season. Keonte Jones is posting 13.6 points per game, and De’Sean Allen-Eikens sets the pace at 19.9 per game.

“We’re still learning, we’re up and down. You see how good we could be,” Cal State Northridge coach Andy Newman said following the win over Utah Tech. “We’re getting there, I like where we’re at. Obviously, you want it all now but that’s not realistic.”

–Field Level Media

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