December 28, 2012

Gauchos Visit Titan Gym for ESPNU Televised Big West Opener

THIS WEEK...
UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Fullerton
Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 | 7:05 pm
Fullerton, Calif.
Titan Gym (4,000)
Game Coverage: Live Stats | Audio | CSF Release Adobe PDF icon  | UCSB Release
TV: ESPNU (PxP: Kanoa Leahey; Color: Corey Williams) 

TIP OFF: Let the games begin. The Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team (6-5 overall) rings in the New Year this weekend with the start of Big West Conference play, hosting UC Santa Barbara on Saturday (Dec. 29) at 7 p.m. in a televised ESPNU contest.

BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in Titans' athletics by following us on Facebook (CSUF.Athletics) and Twitter (@FullertonTitans).

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?: Thanks to a partnership with Arizona-based Stretch Internet, Cal State Fullerton's home games, as well as selected road contests, can be heard live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. Veteran voice of the Titans, Mike Martinez, will have the call live from Titan Gym on Saturday night against the Gauchos.

LOOKING AHEAD: After Saturday's Big West opener against UC Santa Barbara, the Titans will hit the road for the first time in league play, traveling to the islands for the first time since the 2010-11 season to take on conference newcomer Hawaii on Thursday (Jan. 3) before heading back to the mainland for a contest at Cal State Northridge two days later on Saturday (Jan. 5).

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!: Saturday will mark Fullerton's third appearance on some sort of television broadcast this season and its first on the ESPN family of networks after two appearances on the Pac-12 Network... the Titans are 19-17 on television in the last seven-plus seasons -- including a 6-1 mark during the 2007-08 campaign -- and are scheduled to make at least four more TV appearances this season with the possibility of three more "wild card game" appearances at the end of the year... Fullerton is 0-2 on television thus far this season after falling at Stanford on Nov. 12 and at Washington on Dec. 2 and has lost three of its last five on TV dating back to last season.

SAME BAT TIME, SAME BAT CHANNEL: The last time the Titans appeared on an ESPN network came on Feb. 4, 2012 -- also against UC Santa Barbara. Fullerton's Kwame Vaughn scored a career-high 37 points (the fifth-best single game scoring total in school history) on Homecoming and the Titans made a school-record 17 three-pointers in a 99-86 victory at Titan Gym.

SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS: UC Santa Barbara enters the weekend with a 4-7 overall record, having dropped its last two contests prior to the holiday at California (L, 68-59) and at Wyoming (L, 56-40)... the Gauchos' last win came on Dec. 15 against San Diego Christian (W, 87-60) while their last Division I win came at Santa Clara on Dec. 1 (W, 83-80)... sophomore center Alan Williams paces the UCSB offense, averaging 16.3 ppg and 9.7 rpg while shooting .489 from the field... freshman forward Taran Brown (12.7 ppg) and junior guard Kyle Boswell (11.8 ppg) are also in double figures... the Gauchos are shooting .411 from the field and averaging 64.3 ppg as a team while allowing opponents to shooting .433 from the floor and score 69.5 ppg... Head Coach Bob Williams is in his 15th season at the helm of the UCSB program.

HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH UC SANTA BARBARA: The Gauchos enter with a 39-35 lead in the all-time series with Cal State Fullerton as the two programs have split the regular season series over the last two years with each team winning on its own home floor... the Titans are 20-16 at home against the Gauchos, having won two straight and six of the last eight... the last three meetings have all been double-digit decisions (15, 13, and 13 points) after seven straight games decided by nine points or fewer, including an 85-80 overtime decision in 2009-10.

FOR OPENERS (BIG WEST STYLE): Cal State Fullerton is 12-26 in PCAA/Big West Conference openers dating back to the 1974-75 season, snapping a three-game losing skid in such games with a one-point win against UC Davis last season... the Titans re 5-13 when opening conference play at home... Fullerton is 3-1 in when opening league play against UC Santa Barbara, but the two schools have not met in a Big West opener since the 1979-80 season when the Gauchos posted an 80-67 win in Fullerton on Jan. 10... the Titans have played into overtime three times in conference openers, falling to New Mexico State (68-61) on Jan. 2, 1986, and at the Aggies in double overtime (89-87) on Jan. 8, 1998, while posting a win at Cal State Northridge (71-70) on Dec. 28, 2004. 

VAUGHN ON WATCH LIST FOR COUSY AWARD: Cal State Fullerton senior guard Kwame Vaughn was today named as one of 85 players to the watch list for the 2013 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award handed out by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Vaughn is one of only 16 players on the list from west of the Rocky Mountains and the only player from the Big West Conference to be "watched." He joins a West Coast group of six players from the Pacific-12 Conference, four from the West Coast Conference, three from the Mountain West Conference, and two more from the Big Sky Conference.

The annual honor, named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men's college basketball. Previous winners of the award include Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph's - 2004), Raymond Felton (North Carolina - 2005), Dee Brown (Illinois - 2006), Acie Law (Texas A&M - 2007), D.J. Augustin (Texas - 2008), Ty Lawson (North Carolina - 2009), Greivis Vasquez (Maryland - 2010), Kemba Walker (Connecticut - 2011), and Kendall Marshall (North Carolina - 2012).

The watch list of candidates will be narrowed down to a group of 20 players around January 1, a collection of 10 around February 1, and the five finalists on March 1. The winner will be presented at the Hall of Fame's Class Announcement on Championship Monday in Atlanta as part of NCAA Final Four weekend.

For more information, please visit www.cousyaward.com.

HORNE STILL QUESTIONABLE FOR SATURDAY: Cal State Fullerton junior forward Marquis Horne is still listed as questionable for Saturday's conference opener against UC Santa Barbara, sidelined with an injured shoulder. The date of his return is unknown. Horne has missed the team's last five games dating back to the Dec. 2 contest against Washington. In six games this season, he is averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting .484 from the floor.

THEY SHOOT, THEY SCORE!: Still one of the most high-octane offenses in the country, Cal State Fullerton enters the week ranked No. 4 (out of 345 teams) in the NCAA at 83.5 ppg (Indiana is No. 1 at 89.1 ppg) while also ranking among the top 10 in free throw percentage, standing at No. 8 (.771) entering the week. The Titans are also among the top 20 teams in field goal percentage (No. 12, .497), three-point field goals per game (No. 15, 8.7 pg), and three-point percentage (No. 16, .402).

SPEAKING OF SCORING: Senior guards D.J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn enter Saturday's conference opener ranked 1-2 in the Big West in scoring at 18.8 and 18.3 points per game, respectively. The last Titan to lead the lead in scoring was Josh Akognon (23.9 ppg) in 2009 -- one of only three Fullerton players to have paced the Big West in that category since 1970: Leon Wood in 1984 (24.0 ppg), Cedric Ceballos in 1989 (21.2 ppg) and 1990 (23.1 ppg), and Ralphy Holmes in 2005 (16.9 ppg).

THEY WENT TO JARED: And Jared did not disappoint. Fullerton freshman guard Jared Brandon nearly equalled a school record against NAIA foe Hope International last weekend, finishing 10-of-11 from the floor en route to a career-high 20 points in the Titans' 22-point win. Brandon opened the game a perfect 9-for-9 before misfiring for the first time with five minutes to play, falling one make shy of Tom Morgan's record of 10-for-10 from the field set against Utah State on Jan. 31, 1980. Brandon scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half against the Royals to help Fullerton pull away, notching his fourth double-digit scoring performance of the year and becoming the fourth Titan to reach the 20-point plateau this season.

BENCHED: But this seems to be a good thing. After making eight consecutive starts following a solid Division I debut at Stanford in the season opener, Brandon has done a bang-up job coming off the bench for the Titans, tallying three of his four double-digit performances as a reserve while shooting 20-for-24 (.833) from the floor and averaging 15.3 ppg in those contests.

WE'RE GOING STREAKING!: Fullerton's win over Hope International last weekend gave the Titans their second three-game winning streak of the season, pushing them over the .500-mark for the first time since Nov. 23 when they defeated San Diego Christian (also an NAIA Golden State Athletic Conference member) to move to 3-2 overall on the season. During its current run, Fullerton is averaging 82.0 ppg while shooting .537 (94-for-175) from the field and holding opponents to just 68.0 ppg despite allowing them to shoot .506 (83-for-164) from the floor.

#BULLSEYE: The marksmanship medal should go to the Titans as they approach the start of Big West play as Fullerton is, perhaps, the Big West Conference's best shooting team thus far. The Titans lead the league in all three shooting categories entering the week: field goal percentage (.497 to Pacific's .476), three-point percentage (.402 to UC Davis' .377), and free throw percentage (.771 to Cal State Northridge's .770).

PLAYING FROM AHEAD: The Titans' 12-point advantage at the break against Hope International last weekend marked the 10th time in 11 games this season that Fullerton has either led or been tied with its opponent (5-5 record in those games). In the only game that the Titans have trailed at the half (at Texas Southern on Dec. 16), Fullerton rallied from a five-point halftime deficit -- and an eventual 10-point second half gap -- thanks to a 14-0 run en route to a 93-86 win.

11-FOR-11: Seniors D.J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn remain as the only two Titans to reach double figures in all 11 games this season. Dating back to last season, Seeley, who tied a career high with 32 points against Southern Utah on Nov. 17, has reached double figures in his last 17 consecutive games while Vaughn, who has 20-or-more points four times this season, has a current streak of 15 games. Seeley's last single-digit game was on Feb. 18, 2011, against Montana State (6 points) while Vaughn's was on Feb. 25, 2011, at UC Davis (6 points).

EIGHT(Y) IS GREAT(Y): What a difference a point makes. Fullerton is a perfect 5-0 this season when scoring 80 points or more, but just 1-5 when scoring 79 points or fewer.

NINETY'S NICE: Fullerton's 93 points in its win at Texas Southern marked the fourth time in six victories this season that the Titans have eclipsed the 90-point plateau. Fullerton, which reached 90 points six times in 31 games combined last season, is averaging 92.8 ppg in its victories this season while holding opponents to just 69.2 ppg.

WINNING COMFORTABLY: Although you only have to have one more point than the other team at the buzzer, the Titans have comfortably put away opponents in their six victories this season as five of the wins have come via double digits with the only "blemish" being a seven-point win at Texas Southern on Dec. 16. On the flip side, only one of Fullerton's five losses have come by double digits (13 points at Stanford on Nov. 12) with its last four-straight defeats decided by a total of 11 points combined -- all by four points or fewer.

MMMM... TURNOVERS: Cal State Fullerton committed a season-low eight turnovers last weekend against Hope International, the fewest for a Titans' squad since Feb. 29, 2012, when they had the same number against Cal State Northridge.

SWEET SOUNDING QUARTET: The Titans' win over Hope International marked the eighth time in 11 games this season that they have had at least four players in double figures this season, improving to 5-3 in those games.

YES, "HALF" SOME: Fullerton has scored at least 40 points in a half 13 times in 22 halves of action this season (59%)... the Titans' 61-point second half at Texas Southern was its highest-scoring half of the year, eclipsing a 57-point first half against Southern Utah on Nov. 17... it was the best half scoring-wise for a Fullerton squad since the Titans scored 70 points against Redlands in last year's season opener on Nov. 11, 2011.

TWENTY-POINT TIDBITS: Last season, Fullerton was 17-5 when either Seeley (10-3) or Vaughn (7-2) scored at least 20 points, but the Titans are just 3-5 when that occurs in 2012-13... the duo has reached 20 points in the same game nine times during their Fullerton careers (eight of those coming last season and once this year), posting a 6-3 mark in those contests (5-0 at home, 1-2 on the road, and 0-1 on a neutral floor).

THEY GIVETH AND THEY TAKETH AWAY: When not scoring, multi-faceted senior guards D.J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn have also been doing the little things, entering the week ranked among the league's top 10 in both assists and steals -- two of only five players to do so entering the week. Seeley leads the league at 2.5 spg and ranks sixth at 4.1 apg while Vaughn is ninth in assists (3.8 apg) and eighth in steals (1.4 spg).

ALRIGHT, YOU'VE MADE YOUR POINT: With their win over San Diego Christian, the Titans improved to 53-1 all-time when scoring at least 100 points as the 106 points rank among the top 20 point totals in school history. Earlier this season, Cal State Fullerton's 112 points in a 43-point win over Southern Utah on Nov. 17 is tied for the sixth-highest point total in school history and the most for the Titans since they put up 118 points against Redlands just over a year ago to the day on Nov. 11, 2011. The record stands at 128 points against Chapman University on Jan. 8, 1972, in a 128-88 victory.

REAL STEAL REDUX: After scouring the record books, we were able to come up with another nugget for the Titans' 20-steal performance against Southern Utah on Nov. 17, as the total marked the most for the Fullerton defense since a 27-steal night against Lamar on Nov. 24, 1989, as part of a, 104-67, victory. The 20 swipes against Southern Utah were the most for a member of the Big West since Cal State Northridge finished with 24 swipes against Redlands on Nov. 15, 2006 and, of those 20 steals against the Thunderbirds, senior D.J. Seeley finished with nearly a third of the team's total as his career-high seven steals were just two shy of the school's single game record set by Cedric Ceballos against San Jose State on Jan. 19, 1989.