Titans Break for BracketBuster in Lone Star State
NEXT UP FOR THE TITANS…
Cal State Fullerton at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 | 11 a.m. PT
Corpus Christi, Texas
Dugan Wellness Center (1,200)
Game Coverage: Live Stats | Audio | Video | CSF Release | TAMU-CC Release
Photo Gallery: Photos from Friday's Practice in Corpus Christi, Texas
TIP OFF: Coming off one of their biggest wins of the season, the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team (13-13 overall, 6-8 in the Big West Conference) takes its final non-conference break of the season, heading to the "Lone Star State" to take on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday (Feb. 23) as part of ESPNU's Ramada Worldwide Bracketbusters series. The game will tip off at 11 a.m. Pacific Time from the Dugan Wellness Center on campus.
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CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?: Live streaming video will be available for Saturday's game on a subscription basis for $7.95. Please visit Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's video player at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/tamucc.portal# to sign up and watch the game live.
SCOUTING THE ISLANDERS: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi enters the weekend with a 4-20 overall record and a 3-11 mark in Southland Conference play, having lost its last two to Oral Roberts (56-51) and Northwestern State (82-71) after posting back-to-back wins over McNeese State (61-58) and Central Arkansas (75-68) for the first time this season... the Islanders are averaging just 60.1 ppg and shooting .394 from the field while surrendering an average of 68.6 ppg and better than 44 percent from the field... junior forward Will Nelson leads the team at 12.9 ppg and 7.2 rpg while shooting .358 from the floor... sophomore guard Johnathan Jordan is also in double figures (12.8 ppg) while leading the team in assists (126) and standing second on steals (36)... the two have combined to take better than 41 percent (543-of-1320) of the team's shots this season... sophomore Nate Maxey has blocked 47 shots this season and is shooting a team-best .694 from the field... half of the team's 20 losses have been by nine points or fewer, including seven of their last 10 defeats... Head Coach Willis Wilson is in his second season at the helm.
HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH TEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI: Saturday's game will be only the second meeting between the two programs after the Islanders won the inaugural clash on Nov. 22, 2002, by an 83-76 score at the Hawaiian Airlines Tip-Off Tournament in Honolulu... the Islanders will play a return game at Cal State Fullerton in either the 2013-14 or 2014-15 season as part of the Bracketbusters agreement.
TITAN REUNION: Saturday's game will also be a reunion of sorts as Texas A&M-Corpus Christi assistant coach and former Cal State Fullerton standout student-athlete Yaphett King will face one another for the first time. King played two seasons for the Titans from 2003-05, helping Fullerton to the round of 16 in the National Invitational Tournament as a senior. He averaged 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds during his career, including 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds as a senior en route to All-Big West Conference Second-Team honors. After playing professionally overseas, he spent four years as the head coach at Redlands Community College, leading the team to 72 wins during his tenure, including 21 victories and a spot in the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament in 2010-11.
RETURN OF THE BRACKETBUSTER: Saturday will mark the eighth game for the Titans in the history of the BracketBusters series with Cal State Fullerton posting a 4-3 mark in the previous seven such contests dating back to 2006, alternating wins and losses over that time... the Titans have already won a "return game" this season when they defeated Idaho State on Dec. 13 by a 66-53 score... Fullerton also owes a road "return game" at Montana State stemming from last year's BracketBuster meeting won by Fullerton, 80-66, on Feb. 18 at Titan Gym... overall, the Titans are 7-6 in the BracketBuster series... Previous opponents include: Eastern Washington (1-1), Wright State (0-2), Portland State (1-1), New Mexico State (1-1), SIUE (2-0), Idaho State (1-1), and Montana State (1-0).
|CAL STATE FULLERTON BRACKETBUSTER HISTORY|
|BRACKETBUSTER GAMES (4-3)|
|2.18.06||Eastern Washington||W, 89-63|
|2.17.07||at Wichita State||L, 77-62|
|2.23.08||Portland State||W, 85-69|
|2.21.09||at New Mexico State||L, 94-86|
|2.19.11||at Idaho State||L, 84-79|
|2.18.12||Montana State||W, 80-66|
|2.23.13||at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi||TBD|
|RETURN GAMES (3-3)|
|11.26.06||at Eastern Washington||L, 110-100|
|12.22.07||Wichita State||L, 84-80|
|11.23.08||at Portland State||L, 76-75|
|11.24.09||New Mexico State||W, 84-73|
|12.3.11||at SIU-Edwardsville||W, 79-57|
|12.13.12||Idaho State||W, 66-53|
|TBD||at Montana State||TBD|
|TBD||Texas A&M-Corpus Christi||TBD|
SEELEY SEALS A MILESTONE: With an "and one" just five minutes into the game on Wednesday night, senior guard D.J. Seeley became the 21st Titan player to reach 1,000 career points in the history of the program, eventually finishing with 21 on the night against Cal Poly to move into a tie with Mike Niles (1976-79) for No. 19 on the all-time scoring list with 1,014 points. Seeley finished 9-of-12 from the field and added three assists in 33 minutes, scoring eight of the team's first 11 points of the game and becoming the sixth-fastest player in school history overall to the milestone (57 games).
1. Leon Wood -- 46 games
t2. Josh Akognon -- 47 games
t2. Cedric Ceballos -- 47 games
4. Joe Small -- 54 games
5. Mark Hill -- 56 games
6. D.J. Seeley -- 57 games
7. Ike Harmon -- 64 games
t8. Bobby Brown -- 66 games
t8. Pape Sow -- 66 games
10. Chris Dade -- 78 games
YOUR TURN: With Seeley's milestone out of the way, the spotlight turns to teammate Kwame Vaughn, who sits just 52 points away from joining the 1,000-point plateau himself. Vaughn, who finished with a game-high 23 points on Wednesday against Cal Poly, needs to average just 10.4 ppg over the final five games to reach the mark before the end of the regular season. The senior stands at 948 points in 57 career games, having not missed a start in his two seasons as a Titan.
TWO IN ONE YEAR?: Should Vaughn join his teammate in the 1,000-point club this season, they would become only the fifth pair in school history to accomplish the milestone in the same year:
• Keith Anderson (1,240), Kevin Heenan (1,163) & Mike Niles (1,014) in 1978-79
• Tony Neal (1,327) and Gary Davis (1,165) in 1984-85
• Cedric Ceballos (1,284) and Mark Hill (1,040) in 1989-90
• Agee Ward (1,017) and Joe Small (1,011) in 1991-92
TITANS' OFFENSE HANGS TOUGH IN NCAA TOP FIVE: Despite behind held under their scoring average for the fifth consecutive game, the Titans' high-octane offense continues to hold steady among the nation's top five scoring teams entering Saturday's contest, ranking No. 4 at 80.5 ppg (as of Feb. 17) -- one of only four schools to average better than 80 points per game, joining Northwestern State (84.1 ppg), Indiana (82.9 ppg), and Iona (82.2 ppg).
THE DEFENSE, HOWEVER: While the offense seems to be clicking in 2012-13, the Titans' defense hasn't been as Fullerton ranks No. 339 out of 345 schools in scoring defense at 77.0 ppg (as of Feb. 17), ahead of only Iona (77.2 ppg), Central Connecticut State (77.2 ppg), Grambling (77.4 ppg), Central Arkansas (77.8 ppg), Fairleigh Dickinson (77.9 ppg), and Longwood University (80.6 ppg).
ELSEWHERE IN THE NATION: As of Feb. 17, Fullerton also ranks among the top five teams in the NCAA in free throw percentage (3rd, .774) while standing in the top 10 in three-pointers per game (7th, 8.9 pg). The Titans are also among the top 25 teams in the nation in field goal percentage (19th, .477), total points (17th, 2012 points), three-point percentage (24th, .388), and turnover margin (19th, +3.7).
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?: The 60 points allowed against Cal Poly on Wednesday night were the fewest surrendered to a Big West Conference opponent this season while the 23 first-half points allowed were the second-fewest given up by the Titans in any game this season, just missing the mark of 20 in the first half against Idaho State on Dec. 13.
HE'S HERE TO HELP: Senior Kwame Vaughn finished with a game-high seven assists in the Titans' win over Cal Poly -- the seventh time that he has finished with six-or-more assists in a game this season. The performance helped push Vaughn's career total to 221 assists in almost two seasons, a mark that ranks third among active Big West players and 15th on the school's all-time list -- just three back of Chris Dade (224 from 1994-98) and four back of Kevin Heenan (225 from 1975-79).
WINNING BIG: The Titans' 17-point win over the Mustangs marked Fullerton's ninth by double digits in 13 victories this season, but it was the largest margin of victory since a 19-point win at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 5.
20-20: Wednesday night against Cal Poly, seniors Kwame Vaughn (23) and D.J. Seeley (21) each reached the 20-point plateau, marking the 10th and 11th times this season, respectively, that they have reached the mark this season. Seeley ranks second in the Big West in that category behind only UC Davis' Corey Hawkins (12), but leads all active players in the league with 24 for his career. Vaughn is second with 19 career 20-point performances as the dynamic duo is among a select group of five players with double digits in that category (Cal State Northridge's Stephan Hicks has 13, Hawkins has 12, and UC Irvine's Daman Starring have 11 apiece).
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 8-7 when that occurs in 2012-13. The duo has reached 20 points in the same game 14 times during their Fullerton careers (eight of those coming last season and six times this year), posting an 9-5 mark in those contests (6-1 at home, 3-3 on the road, and 0-1 on a neutral floor).
MINUTE MEN: With the Titans' regular rotation down to just seven players, Cal State Fullerton's senior backcourt duo of Kwame Vaughn and D.J. Seeley, along with senior Sammy Yeager and sophomore Alex Harris, have had to log a lot of minutes as of late. Vaughn, who has played at least 35 minutes in 16 of the team's 16 games overall (including 11 of the last 16), enters the night ranked atop the league at 34.3 mpg while Seeley, who has 10 games of 35 minutes or more -- and has reached that mark in seven of his last 12 -- is third at 33.1 mpg. Yeager, who has played at least 35 minutes in seven of his last 12, is ninth in the conference at 31.8 mpg while Harris enters the week ranked No. 10 in the category at 31.6 mpg.
NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH: But there are such things as free points if you're Kwame Vaughn. The Titans' senior finished 10-for-13 at the line on Feb. 20 against Cal Poly -- the fifth time this season he has had double-digit makes from the stripe -- to increase his league-leading total to 144 free throws made (which also stands tied for fourth with Cedric Ceballos' total in 1989-90 on the school's single-season list). Vaughn ranks fourth in the Big West in free throw percentage at .837, a total that would rank him sixth on the school's single-season list, while his career mark of .842 entering the night would be the fourth-best in school history.
THREE-HEADED SCORING MONSTER: Cal State Fullerton remains as the only school to have three players among the Big West Conference's top 10 in scoring entering the night as D.J. Seeley (2nd, 18.3 ppg), Kwame Vaughn (3rd, 17.8 ppg), and Sammy Yeager (8th, 15.8 ppg) all make the cut while both Seeley (No. 42) and Vaughn (No. 59) also rank among the top in the nation in that category (as of Feb. 17). 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).
STOP THIEF!!: With two more steals, D.J. Seeley, who stands atop the Big West charts with 2.0 spg and ranks tied for 10th on the school's single-season list with 53 steals overall this season, will become only the 15th player in the history of the program to log 100 for his career and the first to break into the top 15 since Frank Robinson (2005-08) finished with 122 for his career (#10 overall) in 2008.
YEAGER SIDELINED DUE TO INJURY: Fullerton's win over Cal Poly came without a key component of its offense as the Titans were without senior forward Sammy Yeager, who is listed as "game-to-game" with a back injury. Yeager ranks third on the team in scoring and rebounding at 15.8 ppg and 4.4 rpg, respectively, and is shooting better than 47 and 44 percent from the floor and three-point range, respectively, in 25 games this season.
ENOUGH TO GO AROUND: Seeley, Vaughn, and Yeager have all reached double figures in points in the same game 17 times in 26 games this season, including the trio all reaching at least 20 points in both games against Cal State Northridge on Jan. 5 at The Matadome as part of a 105-86 Fullerton victory on on Jan. 31 at Titan Gym in a six-point loss. Together, the trio has combined to score just under 64 percent (1,336 of 2,089) of the team's points this season.
EIGHT(Y) IS GREAT(Y)...: What a difference a point makes. Cal State Fullerton is a stellar 8-2 this season when scoring at least 80 points this season compared to just 5-11 when scoring 79 points or fewer.
...AND NINETY IS NICE...: Fullerton's 95 points in its win at UC Davis on Jan. 24 marked the sixth time in 13 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 88.0 ppg in its 13 victories this season while holding opponents to just 71.2 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 Cal State Northridge on Jan. 5 -- 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).
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 and continues to rehab his injury with hopes of returning to game shape this 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 20 games due to an injury he suffered in December.
YEAGER... FOR THREE!: Sammy Yeager is getting closer to etching his name into the Fullerton record books for his three-point shooting prowess as his 66 makes from beyond the arc this season stand just four shy of the top 15 and nine back of Joe Small (1990-91) and Mark Hill (1988-89) for the No. 10 spot. The single-season record is held by Josh Akognon, who made 136 three's in 2008-09 and added 116 more in 2007-08 to rank second. If the season ended today, Yeager's percentage of .446 from beyond the arc would also be a school single-season record (minimum 50 made), breaking the mark set by Don Leary (.443, 89-for-201) in 1992-93.