Tuesday, Feb 05 2013 09:39 PM

'Runners to play in '15 Great Alaska Shootout

BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer

Every season in its 33-year history, the Great Alaska Shootout has had a men's basketball participant qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

In 2015, the Shootout field will include Cal State Bakersfield.

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Wyoming (15-6) at CSUB (8-14)

When: 7

Where: Rabobank Arena

Series: Wyoming leads 3-0

Last meeting: Wyoming won 63-49, Nov. 24, in Laramie, Wyo.

Radio: KERN 1180 AM

RPI*: Wyoming 62 (out of 347 teams), CSUB 272

Notes: Wyoming began the season 13-0, but is 2-6 in Mountain West Conference play since. ... CSUB is 0-4 vs. MWC teams this season. ... Brandon Barnes had 13 points in CSUB's Nov. 24 game at Wyoming, the only Roadrunner to score in double figures. ... Wyoming allows only 55.3 points per game, the eighth-best defense in the nation. ... Wyoming has gone 3-6 since losing senior guard and second-leading scorer Luke Martinez, who suffered a broken right hand in a fight at a bar on Dec. 30. Martinez was later arrested on felony assault charges after he allegedly kicked an already-knocked out man in the head during that bar fight and has been suspended indefinitely by the team. He is scheduled to be arraigned on March 6.

* -- Ratings Percentage Index ranks a team based on its winning percentage, its opponent's winning percentage and the winning percentage of those opponents' opponents (Div. I games only).

CSUB athletic director Jeff Konya announced Tuesday that the Roadrunners have accepted an invitation to play in the 2015 Great Alaska Shootout, which is played annually over the Thanksgiving holiday period.

"It was the Western Athletic Conference that contacted us about the spot," said Konya, who noted that the WAC annually sends a representative to the event. "They know the kind of program we're building and the opportunity came up in 2015.

"It was about a week's worth of negotiations to get that accomplished."

Konya said CSUB hasn't been told of any other teams that have been invited to participate in the 2015 event.

He added that tournament officials say the field will feature teams "comparable to what it has been the last 3-4 years. Teams like Oklahoma, St. John's, teams from the Big 12, teams from the Big East, Conference USA, the West Coast Conference and they always have a WAC participant."

Konya added: "We're going to take our turn and it's real fortunate they called us."

CSUB will play three games, all televised nationally, Konya said.

It is also an "exempt" tournament, meaning those games won't count toward the NCAA maximum of 28 regular season games that teams are allowed each season.

CSUB coach Rod Barnes said the Great Alaska Shootout gives the Roadrunners national recognition.

"That was one of the goals when I got here: To give us more exposure and get us into these early-season exempt tournaments. It's a great deal for us. A great opportunity for our program."

Illness hits CSUB

CSUB coach Rod Barnes said the Roadrunners are healing from some nagging injuries that have slowed several players in recent games. But now the flu bug is working its way through the team.

Junior guard Brandon Barnes (the coach's son) missed practice on Monday but was expected back Tuesday because of the illness. Rod Barnes added that backup forward Cory Hall was going to miss practice Tuesday because of illness.

"It's like a 24-hour bug going around," the coach said. "We expect everyone healthy" for tonight's game against Wyoming, a 7 p.m. start in Rabobank Arena.

The goal: get Carter the ball

Coach Rod Barnes said it's exciting that senior guard Stephon Carter is closing in on the program's all-time scoring record. Carter needs 35 points to pass Kenny Warren and move into the top spot.

"We're going to get him touches," Barnes said. "We're really trying to get this over with. ... We want to get it to him often. We want to help him get it."

Carter was held to a season-low four points in CSUB's earlier meeting against Wyoming, which was Nov. 24 in Laramie, Wyo. Carter did not make a field goal and fouled out after playing only 18 minutes in CSUB's 63-49 loss.

Wyoming: lots of size

Wyoming brings a sizeable team into Rabobank Arena tonight. Five players are at least 6-foot-7, including 6-7 forward Leonard Washington, the team's top scorer (14.1) and rebounder (8.7). Sophomore Larry Nance Jr. (son of 13-year NBA player and three-time All-Star Larry Nance Sr) is 6-8 and averages 10.2 points and 7.1 rebounds.

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