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January 15, 2005|Eric Stephens

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BIG WEST CONFERENCE

Utah State (11-4, 2-2) at Cal State Northridge (7-7, 5-1), 2 p.m., FSNW2 -- Northridge started a key two-game homestand Thursday with a come-from-behind win over Idaho, which was previously unbeaten in league play. With their fifth consecutive win, the Matadors moved into second place behind Pacific. Guard Davin White has averaged 19.3 points off the bench in his last three games, making 21 of 37 shots. Utah State is coming off a double-overtime loss to Pacific in Stockton. Forward Spencer Nelson, a 25-year-old senior, leads the Aggies in scoring (15.7), rebounding (8.9) and assists (4.7).

Long Beach State (2-12, 0-5) at UC Riverside (5-8, 1-3), 7 p.m., KPRO (1570) -- Riverside rallied around the loss of injured star forward Vili Morton on Thursday in a dominating performance against UC Irvine. With Morton out for the season after injuring his left knee Monday against UC Davis, freshman guard Larry Cunningham figures to become the focal point of the offense. Cunningham had 29 points Thursday on eight-for-11 shooting, including five three-pointers. Long Beach State Coach Larry Reynolds was most disappointed in his team's defense in a lopsided loss to Cal State Fullerton.

UC Irvine (6-6, 1-4) at Cal State Fullerton (8-4, 3-1), 7 p.m., KUCI-FM (88.9), KWRM (1370) -- Fullerton is hoping that the injury to senior forward Hardy Asprilla, who's out for the season after tearing a knee ligament Thursday, won't disrupt the confidence it has built in winning five of its last six games, the most recent a victory over Long Beach. "It was the last thing we needed because we're playing really good right now," Fullerton Coach Bob Burton said. Irvine Coach Pat Douglass was disappointed in his team's effort against Riverside after playing well in a two-point loss to Pacific last week.

UC Davis (6-8) at UC Santa Barbara (5-8), 7 p.m., KTLK (1340) -- Santa Barbara walk-on Derek Rasp, a redshirt freshman out of Camarillo High, scored 14 points in a home win over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Santa Barbara Coach Bob Williams spent eight seasons at Davis and led the Aggies to the 1998 Division II national title. Current Davis Coach Gary Stewart was an assistant under Williams that season.

WEST COAST CONFERENCE

Pepperdine (12-6, 2-1) at No. 16 Gonzaga (12-3, 2-1), 5 p.m., FSNW -- The Waves were erratic Thursday in a loss at Portland, their first to the Pilots in six years. Portland exposed the Waves' deficient inside game by scoring 48 of its 81 points inside the paint and shooting 56.6% from the field. Pepperdine faces West Coast Conference nemesis Gonzaga in front of a sellout crowd at the Bulldogs' new McCarthey Athletic Center. Gonzaga star forward Ronny Turiaf returned to form with 16 points in a victory over Loyola Marymount after averaging only six the previous three games.

-- Eric Stephens

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