Battle for Big West Seeding Begins at UC Santa Barbara

NEXT UP FOR THE TITANS...
Cal State Fullerton at UC Santa Barbara

Thursday, March 7, 2013 | 7 p.m.
at Santa Barbara, Calif.
The Thunderdome (6,000)
Game Coverage: Live Stats | Video | UCSB Audio | CSF Release Adobe PDF icon  | UCSB Release

SERIES RECORDS
Overall: UCSB Leads, 39-36
Overtime: 2-4 (Lost 1)
Double Overtime: 0-1 (Lost 1)
Titan Gym: 21-16 (Won 3)
at The Thunderdome: 11-22 (Lost 3)
at Robertson Gym: 3-0 (Won 3)
at Anaheim Conv. Ctr.: 1-1 (Lost 1)

TIP OFF: The battle for seeding in next week's Big West Conference Tournament heats up in the final week of the regular season as the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team (14-15 overall, 6-10 in the Big West) closes out the year on the road against Central Coast rivals. The Titans' trip opens on Thursday (March 7) with a key contest at UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. from The Thunderdome.

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. Links will be made available on the men's basketball schedule page as veteran Cal State Fullerton play-by-play man Mike Martinez will have the call.

CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?: Live streaming video will be available for this week's game will be shown for free via the Big West TV platform at www.BigWest.org/TV and available on the men's basketball schedule page at www.FullertonTitans.com.

SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS: UC Santa Barbara enters the week with a 9-19 overall record and a 5-11 mark in Big West Conference play... the Gauchos snapped a four-game skid with a key, 83-74, win at Cal State Northridge on March 2 to eliminate the Matadors from the Big West Tournament... UC Santa Barbara has posted six of its nine wins at home this season after going just 3-13 on the road... sophomore center Alan Williams has been a beast inside for the Gauchos, averaging a double-double of 17.4 ppg and 10.5 rpg while shooting .484 from the field and averaging 2.3 blocks per game... junior guard Kyle Boswell (13.4 ppg) and freshman forward Taran Brown (11.1 ppg) are also in double figures... UCSB is averaging 64.8 ppg and is shooting .420 from the field while allowing 68.7 ppg and .427 shooting from the field... Head Coach Bob Williams is in his 15th season at UC Santa Barbara, posting a 246-200 record in his previous 14 years.

HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH UC SANTA BARBARA: UC Santa Barbara leads the all-time series with Cal State Fullerton, 39-36, but the Titans have won two-straight over the Gauchos, including an 86-79 win at Titan Gym in front of an ESPNU national audience on Dec. 29... Fullerton is just 11-22 at The Thunderdome, having lost its last three-straight trips to Santa Barbara... the Titans' last win on the Gauchos' home floor came on Jan. 10, 2009, in a 62-58 triumph -- its only win in the last six trips to the "American Riviera."

MEDIC!!!: Finally, some positive news from the training room, as the x-ray's on the foot of senior D.J. Seeley were negative, ruling out any major injury. However, lingering pain will list him as "questionable" for the Titans' trip to the Central Coast against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, the latest casualty in the M*A*S*H unit that is the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team that features a list of "wounded" that includes forward Marquis Horne (shoulder), forward Sammy Yeager (back), and forward Darius Nelson (foot).

BIG WEST BIG PICTURE: Despite falling to UC Davis in its last outing, Cal State Fullerton managed to clinched a berth in the 2013 Big West Conference Tournament thanks to UC Santa Barbara's win over Cal State Northridge that eliminated the Matadors from consideration. The Titans, currently the No. 7 seed, sit one game ahead of the eighth-place Gauchos in the battle to avoid facing top-seeded Long Beach State in the opening round. A win over UCSB on Thursday would lock Fullerton into the seventh spot, holding a virtual three-game lead over the Gauchos with a sweep of the season series and the head-to-head tiebreaker. A loss brings the two programs into a tie and would come down to the regular season finales against Cal Poly (for Fullerton) and UC Riverside (for Santa Barbara). Should the two remained tied at the end of the regular season, the records against the top teams in the league will decide the seeding, in which case, the Titans would need a win over Cal Poly and the Mustangs to somehow jump into second place to gain the upper hand.

RECORDS VERSUS TOP FOUR (as of March 4)

vs. Long Beach State -- Fullerton (0-2); UC Santa Barbara (0-2)

vs. Pacific -- Cal State Fullerton (0-2); UC Santa Barbara (1-1)

vs. UC Irvine -- Fullerton (0-2); UC Santa Barbara (1-1)

vs. Cal Poly -- Fullerton (1-0); UC Santa Barbara (1-1)

VAUGHN MAKES IT TWO: Senior Kwame Vaughn became the 22nd player in school history to reach 1,000 career points on Saturday night against UC Davis, scoring 22 of his game-high 29 points in the second half to blow past the milestone and into a tie with Joe Small (1990-92) for 21st on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,011 career points -- just three points shy of Mike Niles (1976-79) for 20th and six points back of Agee Ward (1989-92) for 19th. Vaughn, who needed only 18 points to reach the mark heading into the night, accomplished the feat with a three-pointer at the 11:26 mark of the second half, becoming the seventh-fastest player in school history to hit the millennium mark at 60 games.

FASTEST TO 1,000 POINTS AT CAL STATE FULLERTON

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. Kwame Vaughn -- 60 games

8. Ike Harmon -- 64 games

t9. Bobby Brown -- 66 games

t9. Pape Sow -- 66 games

DOUBLE-DIPPING: With Vaughn's inclusion on Cal State Fullerton's list of those scorers who have hit the millenium mark, the senior, along with teammate D.J. Seeley, gives the Titans a pair of 1,000-point scorers in the same season for the first time in 21 years and for only the fifth time in school history:

1,000-POINT DUOS IN CAL STATE FULLERTON HISTORY

• 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

• D.J. Seeley (1,037) and Kwame Vaughn (1,011) in 2012-13

SEELEY, VAUGHN IN A SELECT GROUP: Having reached the 1,000-point plateau in only two seasons is somewhat of a rarity in Cal State Fullerton men's basketball lore as seniors D.J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn become only the fifth and sixth players to hit the mark as two-year players for the Titans, joining Josh Akognon (2007-09), Cedric Ceballos (1988-90), Mark Hill (1988-90), and Joe Small (1990-92).

SCORING TROUBLES TUMBLE TITANS OUT OF TOP FIVE: Ranked among the nation's top scoring teams for most of the season, the Titans took a tumble out of their comfortable top five spot among the NCAA leaders, and have fallen all the way to eighth in the country entering the night at 78.4 ppg -- just ahead of the nation's No. 1 team in Gonzaga. Thursday night's loss to UC Davis marked the eighth-consecutive game that Fullerton has been held to under 80 points, having not reached the mark since a 92-86 loss to Cal State Northridge on Jan. 31.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NATION: As of March 3, Fullerton also ranks among the top 25 teams in the NCAA in free throw percentage (7th, .766), three-pointers per game (12th, 8.6 pg), points scored (20th, 2275), turnover margin (13th, +3.8), and field goal percentage (25th, .472).

NOT IN A GIVING MOOD: Saturday night marked the seventh-straight game that the Titans have had fewer turnovers than their opponents -- giving the ball away no more than 13 times in that span -- and have committed 367 turnovers this season (third-fewest in the league) while standing tied for first with 477 turnovers forced (including a league-leading 16.4 turnovers forced per game) and leading the conference with a +3.78 turnover margin. Fullerton has had fewer turnovers than their opponents in 23 of its 29 games this season, having posted only a 13-10 mark in those games, but is outscoring the opposition, 557-387, in the points off turnovers category.

STINGY: Speaking of giveaways, the Titans' finished with only nine turnovers on Saturday night against UC Davis -- the fifth time this season that Fullerton has finished in single-digits in that category.

DIGGING A HOLE: The first half of the season produced some big first halves for the Titans, who trailed only twice at the break in their first 16 games en route to a 10-6 record. The "second half" of the season, however, hasn't been as kind as Fullerton has had to find a way to rally with a big second half, trailing at halftime in 11 of its last 13 games and posting just a 4-9 mark in that span.

HARRIS-ING THE OPPOSITION: They were big shoes to fill, but sophomore Alex Harris did his best to replace the scoring of teammate D.J. Seeley, who missed Saturday night's contest against UC Davis due to injury, finishing with 15 points and a career-high seven assists in 39 minutes against the Aggies. It marked a season-best fifth-consecutive game in double figures for the sophomore, who has averaged 12.4 ppg in that span to go along with 2.80 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

THE FULLERTON 500: Kwame Vaughn's 29-point night against the Aggies pushed him past the 500-point mark and into the team lead with 527 points this season. Along with teammate D.J. Seeley's 500 points, the Titans have two players with at least that many points for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign when Josh Akognon (647) and Frank Robinson (507) accomplished the feat. With 10 more points, Vaughn will match Seeley's total from 2011-12 and 11 more will give him the most points by a Titan since Akognon's 764 points as a senior in 2008-09.

NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH: But there are such things as free points if you're Kwame Vaughn. The Titans' senior added 12 more makes last week against Pacific and UC Davis to increase his league-leading total to 161 free throws made, which stands third overall on the school's single-season list -- passing Pape Sow, who hit 156 from the stripe from 2003-04, and standing 26 back of Leon Wood's 187 makes from 1981-82. Vaughn enters the night ranked fourth in the Big West in free throw percentage at .834, a total that would rank him sixth on the school's single-season list, while his career mark of .840 entering the night would be the fourth-best in school history.

HE'S HERE TO HELP: 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 -- and added five more on Feb. 28 against Pacific, helping push Vaughn's career total to 227 assists in almost two full seasons. Thrust into more of a scoring role against UC Davis with the loss of D.J. Seeley due to injury, Vaughn was held to without an assist for only the second time this year against the Aggies, but still ranks third among active Big West players and 13th on the school's all-time list, trailing Gary Davis (1981-85) in 12th place with 235 assists.

SHARING IS CARING: Seniors D.J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn have each surpassed the 100-assist mark for the season, marking the second-straight year that the Titans have had two players with at least 100 assists after Vaughn (116) and Perry Webster (100) accomplished the feat in 2011-12. It is a rare sight in Titans men's basketball lore as Cal State Fullerton has had two players with more than 100 assists in the same season only three times dating back to 1972-73, with the only other occurance coming during the 1977-78 season with Mike Linden (204) and Keith Anderson (132) teaming up to share the rock.

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 18 of the team's 29 games overall (including 13 of the last 19), enters the night ranked atop the league at 34.4 mpg while Seeley, who has 11 games of 35 minutes or more -- and has reached that mark in eight of his last 14 -- is sixth at 32.8 mpg. Harris, who played in a career-high 39 minutes on Saturday against UC Davis, is eighth in the league at 32.2 mpg while Yeager is 10th in the conference at 31.8 mpg. 

SEELEY ONE OF SCHOOL'S TOP THIEVES: Thanks to his two steals on Feb. 23 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, senior D.J. Seeley, who shares the top spot in the Big West at 2.0 spg, became only the 15th player in the history of the program to log 100 steals for a  career and the first to break into the top 15 since Frank Robinson (2005-08) finished with 122 (No. 10 overall) in 2008. Seeley's 56 steals this season also has him among the program's top 10 for a single campaign, breaking a tie with Wayne Williams (1989-90) for eighth and standing just one back of Chris Dade (1997-98) for seventh and five shy of Leon Wood (1982-83) and Tony Neal (1981-82) for a spot in the top five.

TWENTY-POINT TIDBITS: Seeley and Vaughn rank tied for second in the Big West with 11 games of 20-points or more this season... Seeley leads all active players with 24 career 20-point games with Vaughn close behind in second with 20 in two seasons... the duo stands among a select group of six active Big West players with 10-or-more 20-point games for their careers (UC Davis' Corey Hawkins, Cal State Northridge's Stephan Hicks, UC Irvine's Daman Starring, and Hawaii's Christian Standhardinger)... 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 8-8 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).

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 6-13 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 14 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 86.2 ppg in its 14 victories this season while holding opponents to just 70.2 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).

LOW BLOW: It was an off night for the fourth-highest scoring team in the country as the Titans were held to their lowest scoring output (55 points), their fewest points in a half (16), and their lowest shooting percentage (.308) of the year against Pacific on Feb. 28. The 55 points were the fewest since Fullerton was limited in a 75-54 loss to Cal State Northridge in the first round of the 2011 Big West Tournament while the shooting night and the 16-point first hald were the Titans' worst since they shot just .231 overall and scored nine points in the first half in a 77-44 loss at UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 31, 2004.