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Inside College Basketball | TONIGHT'S GAMES

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January 08, 2004|Eric Stephens, Paul McLeod

No. 16 Gonzaga (10-2) at Pepperdine (5-10), 5:30, Fox Sports Net 2 -- After a rigorous nonconference schedule that included seven NCAA tournament teams from last season, it doesn't get any easier for the slumping Waves tonight against the prohibitive favorite in the West Coast Conference. Guard Alex Acker has been limited to 15 minutes in the last two games because of a foot injury and will be a game-time decision. Defense continues to be a problem area. Utah made 14 of 27 three-point tries in a victory Monday, and Pepperdine is allowing opponents to shoot 40% from behind the arc. Gonzaga comes in short-handed, as starting forward Tony Skinner and reserve center Richard Fox are out indefinitely.

Portland (6-7) at Loyola Marymount (8-4), 7, KXLU-FM (88.9) -- Loyola has its best record at this stage of the season since 1995-96. The Lions have been hit hard by injuries. Reserve forward John Haywood broke his left hand in the game against Colgate and will be out six to eight weeks. Guard Wes Wardrop remains day to day because of a strained left foot. Portland has made strides under former UCLA guard and third-year Coach Michael Holton. The Pilots started the season 5-1 but have lost six of seven.

Utah State (9-1, 1-0) at UC Santa Barbara (7-4, 1-1), 7, KTLK (1340) -- This is the first matchup between the two teams expected to challenge for the Big West Conference title. Santa Barbara played one of its more complete games in an 84-77 victory over UC Irvine on Monday, getting scoring from eight players. Eight players average between 6.4 and 11.3 points for the Gauchos. Utah State is on a six-game winning streak.

-- Eric Stephens

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Long Beach State (4-7, 2-0) at Pacific (7-6, 2-0), 7, KRLA (870, delayed, 8) -- It's still early, but Long Beach is the surprise of the Big West after knocking off preseason favorite UC Santa Barbara and a top contender, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Long Beach finished last in the conference standings last season and was picked to finish last this season in a preseason poll of the 10 Big West coaches. Forty-Niner guard Louis Darby scored 17 points and made the game-winning shot at the buzzer to beat Santa Barbara, 63-62, and scored 20 points in an 86-72 victory over San Luis Obispo. Guard Christian Maraker (17.9 points) leads Pacific in scoring.

UC Irvine (6-5, 1-1) at CS Northridge (5-5, 1-1), 7, Channel 23, KUCI-FM (88.9) -- Junior forward Etoagwara Onyenegecha has played in only four games for Northridge but is averaging 17.8 points. He scored 22 points in Monday's 78-70 loss at UC Riverside. Junior guard Davin White averages 12.8 points and junior forward Chris Davis averages 11.8 for the Matadors. Sophomore guard Mike Efevberha is averaging 13.5 points for Irvine, which lost Monday to visiting UC Santa Barbara, 84-77. Efevberha has scored in double figures in five of his last six games. It's only the second road game for Irvine in 41 days, and the first since its 64-56 loss at Cal State Sacramento on Dec. 20.

-- Paul McLeod

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