Rivalry Week Tips-Off as UC Irvine Visits in Battle of O.C.
TIP OFF: Winners of three-straight and seven of its last eight overall, the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team (10-6 overall, 3-1 in the Big West Conference) continues a three-game homestand this week with a pair of games against local rivals. The battle for Orange County resumes on Thursday night (Jan. 17) at 8 p.m. as the Titans host UC Irvine in the second game of a Titan-Anteater doubleheader with the women's basketball teams at Titan Gym. Two nights later, Fullerton welcomes long-time rival Long Beach State in a clash with the preseason favorite 49ers on Saturday (Jan. 19) at 6:05 p.m.
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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 for both of Fullerton's games this week.
CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?: Live streaming video for both of this weekend's games will be shown for free via Big West TV. To access the links, please visit the men's basketball schedule page at FullertonTitans.com.
CH-CH-CH-CHANGES: Get out your local listings, the Titans' schedule has undergone a couple changes over the next two months. Due to the resolution of the NHL lockout, Cal State Fullerton's Homecoming game against Hawaii on Feb. 2 will no longer be televised by Fox Sports West to avoid conflicts with an Anaheim Ducks broadcast. Tip-off for the game, however, will remain at 8 p.m., so as not to affect previously scheduled Homecoming festivites. Also, Fullerton's possible ESPN wild card game at UC Santa Barbara will now tip-off at 8 p.m., if selected to be televised by the network.
SCOUTING THE ANTEATERS: UC Irvine enters the week with a 9-9 overall record and a 3-2 mark in Big West play after sweeping its weekend against Hawaii (68-64) and Cal State Northridge (79-69) to win back-to-back games for the third time this season... senior guard Daman Starring leads a balanced Irvine offense, averaging 13.5 ppg while shooting .458 from the floor and .487 from three-point range... three others are averaging at least eight points per contest... senior center Adam Folker (9.2 ppg) leads the team on the boards at 6.6 rpg and shooting .569 from the floor while sophomore Will Davis II is averaging 7.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, and 2.06 bpg while shooting .538 from the field... the Anteaters are just 2-7 in nine games away from home compared to 6-1 at the Bren Center in 2012-13.
HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH UC IRVINE: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with UC Irvine by a 52-43 count dating back to the 1965-66 season... since 1977-78, the Titans are 20-15 at home against the Anteaters, winning three-straight (and five of six) dating back to 2009-10, including a 100-94 shootout win last season... UCI won the last meeting, 65-59, in the first round of last year's Big West Conference Tournament at the Honda Center as the No. 7-seeded Anteaters downed the second-seeded Titans... Irvine's last win in Fullerton came on March 7, 2009, with a 65-62 victory.
NELSON CLEARED TO RETURN TO PRACTICE: The Cal State Fullerton coaching staff got a bit of good news when sophomore forward Darius Nelson was medically cleared to return to practice after recovering from foot surgery performed prior to the start of the 2012-13 season. Nelson would provide much-needed depth to the Titans' frontcourt which lost senior John Underwood to a leave of absence in November and Marquis Horne for the last 10 games due to injury in December.
LET'S PLAY TWO: Thanks, Ernie Banks, I think we will. Thursday night's clash with UC Irvine will mark the Titans' second doubleheader of the season following their win over Hope International on Dec. 22 that followed the women's team and its win over San Jose State. It was the first time that both teams won their respective ends of the doubleheader at home since the 2001-02 season when the men defeated Sacramento State in overtime (106-97) and the women sank Southern Utah (70-67) on Dec. 15. Fullerton, which has won its end of the doubleheader in each of its last five tries, will have three more scheduled doubleheader nights this season: at UC Irvine (Feb. 16), home against Pacific (Feb. 28), and home against UC Davis (March 2).
|Dec. 22, 2012||W, 87-65 vs. Hope International||W, 60-59 vs. San Jose State|
|Feb. 4, 2012||W, 99-86 vs. UC Santa Barbara||L, 69-64 vs. Pacific|
|Dec. 12, 2009||W, 97-59 vs. Occidental||L, 75-72 vs. BYU|
|Dec. 20, 2006||W, 85-49 vs. Louisiana||L, 69-61 vs. CSU Bakersfield|
|Dec. 13, 2003||W, 77-70 vs. Eastern Washington||L, 71-59 vs. UNLV|
|Dec. 14, 2002||L, 79-70 vs. Idaho State||W, 76-74 vs. San Diego|
|Dec. 4, 2002||L, 90-87 vs. Pepperdine||L, 74-69 vs. Air Force|
|Dec. 15, 2001||W, 106-97 vs. Sacramento State||W, 70-67 vs. Southern Utah|
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE: The Big West's best offense will confront the league's best defense in Thursday night's clash as the high-octane Titans will look to dent the armor of the Anteaters' stingy defense. Cal State Fullerton, which leads the league in scoring, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and three-pointers made per game, will go up against a UC Irvine defense that also leads league in those respective categories on the other side of the ball.
|CSF OFFENSE||UCI DEFENSE|
|Scoring Offense||1st (83.9 ppg)||1st (64.1 ppg)|
|Field Goal Percentage||1st (.503)||1st (.374)|
|Three-Point Percentage||1st (.410)||1st (.309)|
|Three-Pointers Made Per Game||1st (9.1 pg)||1st (5.5 pg)|
OFFENSE STILL RANKS AMONG NATION'S BEST: Despite being held in the 70's in both of its games last week, Cal State Fullerton's 83.9 ppg (one of only nine teams to average better than 80.0 ppg entering the week) trails only Indiana's 87.1 ppg and Northwestern State's 84.3 ppg for the moniker of the highest-scoring team in the nation while continuing to rank among the NCAA's top 10 in three other categories as of Jan. 13: field goal percentage (7th, .503), three-point field goals per game (8th, 9.1 pg), and free throw percentage (9th, .771). The Titans also stand No. 11 in three-point percentage (.410) and No. 14 in total points (1,343).
POTENT 1-2-8 PUNCH: Cal State Fullerton is the only school to have three players among the Big West Conference's top 10 in scoring entering the week as D.J. Seeley (1st, 19.1 ppg), Kwame Vaughn (2nd, 18.9 ppg), and Sammy Yeager (8th, 15.3 ppg) all make the cut. This is the fourth consecutive week that a Titan has led the conference in scoring (Seeley on Dec. 24, Vaughn on Dec. 31, and Seeley in each of the last two weeks) while both Seeley (No. 28) and Vaughn (No. 32) also rank among the top 50 in the nation in that category. The last Titan to lead the league 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).
YEAGER BOMBS AWAY: Ready, aim, fire. That must be the motto for the Titans' Sammy Yeager over his last five games as the sharpshooting senior has been lights-out from the field as of late. During that stretch, Yeager is averaging a team-best 20.6 ppg (including a career-high 30 points against UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 29) while shooting 38-for-63 (.603) from the field and an even-more accurate .615 (24-for-39) from three-point range.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE: Yeager, the Big West's second-best three-point shooter in terms of percentage, in also one of the nation's best as his .489 mark from beyond the arc also has him ranked No. 7 in the nation entering this week.
SHARPSHOOTING TITANS: Fullerton has been deadly accurate shooting from the floor as the Titans' field goal percentage of .503 would be a school record, if the season ended today, topping the previous best of .497 set in 1976-77.
BALANCING ACT: After being held to single digits for the first time this season at CSU Bakersfield (eight points), senior guard D.J. Seeley did all the little things right in a pair of "jack-of-all-trades" performances to help the Titans to wins over the Roadrunners and UC Riverside last week. Against Bakersfield, he grabbed six rebounds, dished out five assists, and added three more steals to his league-leading total in 36 minutes, but had his 20-game double-digit scoring streak snapped with just eight points -- his first since Feb. 18, 2012, against Montana State (6 points). Three nights later, he returned to his scoring ways (18 points) while also adding a team-high five rebounds and game highs with six assists (against just one turnover) and five steals against the Highlanders. For the week, D.J. averaged 13.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, and 4.0 spg.
16-FOR-16: With Seeley's eight-point night against Bakersfield, senior Kwame Vaughn stands alone as the only Titan to reach double digits in all 16 games this season. Dating back to last year, Vaughn's streak now stands at 20 consecutive games with his last single-digit performance against UC Davis on Feb. 25, 2012 (6 points), although it took 12 second-half points over the final 15 minutes of the game against UC Riverside to keep the run alive.
TWO-WAY PLAYER: Seeley's performances last week marked his seventh and eighth games of the year with five or more assists (extending a streak to four consecutive games) while Saturday's win over UC Riverside was his fifth game this season with five or more steals.
SO, WE CAN'T MAKE THEM ALL...: The Titans shot just under 43 percent from the field against UC Riverside -- its lowest field goal percentage in a win this season and the lowest since they shot .393 in a 77-74 win over Long Beach State on March 3, 2012.
...BUT THEY ALMOST DID: On the flip side, the Highlanders shot .622 (28-for-45) from the field -- a season-high for a Fullerton opponent and the highest since New Mexico State hit on 63 percent (34-for-54) in a 94-86 win over the Titans on Feb. 21, 2009. Despite Riverside's big night, Saturday marked Fullerton's first win in five tries this season when being outshot by the opposition.
JANUARY HEAT: Typically one of the coldest months of the year has been one of the hottest for the Titans, who are averaging 84.5 ppg as a squad while shooting .515 from the field and .414 from three-point range through four games. The points and three-point percentage are the second-best monthly marks for Fullerton this season (88.5 ppg and .448 in six November games), but the Titans' field goal percentage is the best in a single month thus far. Individually, both D.J. Seeley (21.3 ppg) and Sammy Yeager (18.3 ppg) are averaging monthly bests in January while Yeager is having his best shooting month (.574 overall, .571 from three-point range) of the season.
WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE: Fullerton's win over UC Riverside on Saturday improved the Titans to 5-1 at home this season and marked their 18th win in their last 20 home contests dating back to last season. With seven home games remaining on the schedule, Fullerton has not had a losing season at Titan Gym since the 2001-02 squad finished 4-9 (.308).
FROM ROAD WOE-IORS TO WARRIORS: Fullerton's win at Bakersfield was the third on the road for the Titans and, coupled with their win at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 5, gave the Titans back-to-back wins away from home for the first time since Feb. 15 (at UC Riverside) and Feb. 23 (at Pacific) last season.
MINUTE MEN: With the Titans' rotation down to just seven players, Cal State Fullerton's senior backcourt duo of Kwame Vaughn and D.J. Seeley have had to log a lot of minutes as of late. Vaughn, who has played at least 35 minutes in each of his last six games and 10 times overall, enters the week ranked first in the league at 34.5 mpg while Seeley, who has five games of 35 minutes or more, is fifth at 32.6 mpg. In addition, both Sammy Yeager (30.7 mpg) and Alex Harris (30.5 mpg) rank just outside the top 10 in the category.
SATURDAY NIGHT'S ALRIGHT FOR WINNING: Saturday night's victory over UC Riverside improved Cal State Fullerton to 5-0 this season on Saturday's -- one of two unbeaten nights of the week for the Titans thus far (Fullerton is 1-0 on Wednesdays after its win at Bakersfield).
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 10 victories this season as seven of the wins have come via double digits with the only "blemishes" being a pair of seven-point wins at Texas Southern on Dec. 16 and against UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 29 along with a two-point win over UC Riverside on Jan. 12.
... BUT LOSING HEARTBREAKERS: On the flip side, only one of Fullerton's six losses have come by double digits (13 points at Stanford on Nov. 12) and the Titans' last five losses have each come by four points or fewer, the last three by two points each, and all five by a grand total of 13 points (2.6 ppg). In its six losses, Fullerton has held a double-digit second-half lead in four of those games.
PLAYING FROM AHEAD: Cal State Fullerton has either led (13 times, 9-4 overall) or has been tied (twice, 0-2 overall) at the half in all but one game this season. In the only game in which 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.
#BULLSEYE: The marksmanship medal should go to the Titans thus far this season as Fullerton is, perhaps, the best-shooting team in the Big West Conference. The Titans lead the league in all three shooting categories entering the week: field goal percentage (.503 to Pacific's .482), three-point percentage (.410 to Pacific's .390), and free throw percentage (.771 to Cal State Northridge's .740).
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, joining Cal Poly's Jamal Johnson, Long Beach State's Mike Caffey, and Cal State Northridge's Josh Greene. Seeley leads the league at 2.4 spg and ranks fourth at 4.1 apg while Vaughn is seventh in assists (3.9 apg) and tied for sixth in steals (1.7 spg).
EIGHT(Y) IS GREAT(Y)...: What a difference a point makes. Fullerton suffered its first loss of the season when scoring more than 80 points in a game after falling 90-88 at Hawaii on Jan. 3, but the Titans are still a stellar 7-1 this season when hitting the mark compared to just 3-5 when scoring 79 points or fewer.
...AND NINETY IS NICE...: Fullerton's 105 points in its win at Cal State Northridge marked the fifth time in 10 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 89.3 ppg in its 10 victories this season while holding opponents to just 71.1 ppg in those contests.
...BUT A HUNDRED IS HEAVENLY: The Titans reached the 100-point plateau for the third time this season with their 105 points against the Matadors -- the first time that Fullerton has surpassed the 100-point plateau three times in a single-season since the 2006-07 campaign when the Titans reached the century mark four times against Cal Maritime (W, 108-56), Eastern Washington (L, 110-100), San Jose State (W, 104-77), and Pacific (W, 100-92 in 2OT).
ALRIGHT, YOU'VE MADE YOUR POINT: With the win at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 5, the Titans improved to 54-1 all-time when scoring at least 100 points as the 105 points against the Matadors rank among the top 25 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 while the 106 points scored against San Diego Christian on Nov. 23 are tied for No. 20. Fullerton's single-game record stands at 128 points against Chapman University on Jan. 8, 1972, in a 128-88 victory.
HEY MR. D.J.: Seeley's Big West-best 37-point performance against Cal State Northridge on Jan. 5 is tied for the fifth-highest single-game total in school history, matching Kwame Vaughn's 37 points against UC Santa Barbara last season and Josh Akognon's 37-point night against UC Riverside in 2009. The total eclipsed his previous career and conference best of 32 points set earlier this year against Southern Utah on Nov. 17 and marked the third time in his Titans career that he has reached 30 points in a game after also scoring 32 in the 2011-12 season finale at LMU on March 14.
MORE 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 5-5 when that occurs in 2012-13... the duo has reached 20 points in the same game 12 times during their Fullerton careers (eight of those coming last season and three times this year), posting a 7-5 mark in those contests (5-0 at home, 2-4 on the road, and 0-1 on a neutral floor)... Seeley has the most career 20-point games of any active player in the Big West (19) and is just one of three in double figures along with teammate Vaughn (16) and Northridge's Stephan Hicks (12)... Vaughn and Hicks share the league lead with seven, 20-point games this season.