March 9, 2013

Finale Looms Large as Titans Battle Mustangs Prior to Tourney

NEXT UP FOR THE TITANS...
Cal State Fullerton at Cal Poly
Saturday, March 9, 2013 | 7 p.m.
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Mott Gym (3,032)
Game Coverage: Live Stats | Audio | Video | CSF Release Adobe PDF icon  | CP Release

SERIES RECORDS
Overall: Cal Poly Leads, 32-25 (Won 2)
Overtime: 1-2 (Won 1)
Titan Gym: 8-9 (Won 2)
at Mott Gym: 8-8 (Lost 2)

** Site records only available since 1996-97 season **

TIP OFF: It all comes down to this. Having lost its last three straight, and in desperate need of a win to help its postseason seeding chances, the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team (14-16 overall, 6-11 in the Big West Conference) heads to San Luis Obispo on Saturday (March 9) for a battle with Cal Poly at 7 p.m. from Mott Gym.

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 MUSTANGS: Cal Poly enters the weekend with a 16-12 overall record and an 11-6 mark in the Big West for third place -- one game behind Pacific for the No. 2 seed with one game remaining... the Mustangs are a perfect 8-0 at home this season following a 68-62 win over UC Riverside on Thursday night... Cal Poly has won four-straight dating back to its loss to Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 20, and seven of its last eight overall... Chris Eversley is one of two Mustangs in double figures, averaging 16.3 ppg to go with a team-high 7.2 rpg (both sixth in the Big West)... Dylan Royer is averaging 10.0 ppg and has hit better than 41 percent from beyond the arc, ranking third in the league in three-pointers made... Cal Poly is averaging 66.1 ppg (8th in the Big West) and shooting .428 from the floor (8th) while allowing 63.5 ppg and .458 from the floor.

HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH CAL POLY: The Mustangs lead the all-time series with the Titans, 32-25, but Fullerton has won its last two meetings with Cal Poly, including a 77-60 win at Titan Gym on Feb. 20... the Titans are 8-8 at Mott Gym since the 1996-97 season, but they have lost their last two trips to San Luis Obispo by a combined 10 points: a 75-70 loss in 2011 and a 73-67 defeat last season... Fullerton's last win on the Mustangs' home court was on Feb. 24, 2010, by a 70-68 count... eight of the last nine meetings in San Luis Obispo have been decided by nine points or fewer.

BIG WEST BIG PICTURE: The picture is very clear for the Titans... they need a win over Cal Poly and hope that UC Riverside pins a loss on UC Santa Barbara in order to earn the No. 7 seed next week and avoid a first-round clash with Long Beach State. Any other scenario would not help the Titans as the Gauchos hold a tie breaker advantage over both Pacific and UC Irvine, going 1-1 against both those schools while Fullerton finished 0-2.

SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE: The top scoring offense in the Big West Conference (Cal State Fullerton, 77.5 ppg) will test its mettle against the league's best scoring defense (Cal Poly, 63.5 ppg) on Saturday night in San Luis Obispo as the Titans look to shake out of their scoring doldrums after averaging just 59.0 ppg over their last four outings. Fullerton is shooting .469 from the field (2nd in the conference) entering the regular season finale and is looking for Cal Poly's defense to hold up its end of the bargin, as the Mustangs rank eighth in field goal percentage defense at .458 this season.

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 16th in the country entering the night at 77.5 ppg. Thursday night's loss to UC Santa Barbara marked the ninth-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 8, Fullerton also ranks among the top 25 teams in the NCAA in free throw percentage (11th, .760), three-pointers per game (15th, 8.4 pg), points scored (23rd, 2325), and turnover margin (13th, +3.8).

"40" TIMES: No, this isn't the National Football League scouting combine. Senior Kwame Vaughn and sophomore Alex Harris each played 40 minutes on Thursday night at UC Santa Barbara, the first Titan duo to do so in the same game since Aaron Thompson (41) and Jacques Streeter (40) in an overtime loss to UC Davis on March 6, 2010, at Titan Gym. It hadn't happened in a regulation game for Cal State Fullerton since the same two players did so against Cal Poly two games earlier on Feb. 24, 2010, in San Luis Obispo.

LOW BLOW: Fullerton's 50 points at UC Santa Barbara on Thursday night were a season low and the fewest for the Titans since they fell, 69-49, to Central Arkansas on Dec. 4, 2009, at the Etech Lumberjack Classic in Nacogdoches, Texas. Thursday also marked the seventh time this season that Fullerton has been held under 40 percent shooting from the floor, remaining winless in those contests in 2012-13.

IS THERE A LID ON THAT THING?: Probably not, as that would be against the rules, but it probably seems like it to the Fullerton offense, which has struggled to put the ball in the basket as of late. The Titans have been held to fewer than 20 makes from the field in three of their last four contests -- the only instances of that happening this season. The 17 makes on Thursday against Santa Barbara were the second fewest this season, just one shy of the 16 made against Pacific on Feb. 28 at home.

WHEN WE WIN, WE'RE GOOD...: In its 14 victories this season, Fullerton has been lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 86.2 ppg and .539 shooting from the field, including a .423 clip from beyond the arc. When the Titans are on the short end of the stick, however, things aren't so rosy, held to just 69.9 ppg in 16 losses, shooting just .412 from the floor and .337 from three-point range.

MMMM... TURNOVERS: Apple? Cherry? Basketball-flavored? Don't know about the last one, but the Titans are a fan, forcing a league-high 491 turnovers entering Saturday night's regular season finale, just edging out second-place Cal State Northridge (490) and standing as one of only three teams with more than 400 turnovers forced this season. 

DOESN'T SHARE WELL: Speaking of giveaways, the Titans have had fewer turnovers than their opponents in each of their last eight games -- giving the ball away no more than 13 times in that span -- and have finished with single digits in that category five times in 2012-13. Fullerton leads the league in turnover margin (+3.8) and has had fewer turnovers than the opposition in 24 of its 30 games this season, posting only a 13-11 mark in those games, but outscoring opponents by a 567-396 margin in the points off turnovers category.

HARRIS-ING THE OPPOSITION: Sophomore Alex Harris has done is best to fill the gap left by the losses of the injured Sammy Yeager and D.J. Seeley, reaching double figures in points in each of the last six games, averaging 12.2 points and 2.67 assists per game in that span, including points and a career-high seven assists against UC Davis on March 2 and 11 points to go with a career-high eight rebounds at UC Santa Barbara on Thursday night. One of the Titans' iron men in that stretch, Harris has played 38 minutes in three of his last four games and is averaging better than 36 minutes in the last six.

MOVIN' ON UP: Thanks to a 20-point night against UC Santa Barbara, senior Kwame Vaughn jumped two spots into the No. 19 position on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,031 career poitns, passing both Mike Niles (1976-79) and Agee Ward (1989-92) and standing just six points back of teammate D.J. Seeley (1,037) and nine behind Mark Hill (1,040) for the No. 17 spot. Vaughn, who became the 22nd player in school history to reach the milestone on March 2 against UC Davis, became 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).

THE FULLERTON 500: Kwame Vaughn's 29-point night against the Aggies pushed him past the 500-point mark and, coupled with his 20-point night at Santa Barbara, catapulted him into the team lead with 547 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. Vaughn's 547 points this season are the most 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 finished 7-for-8 from the line at Santa Barbara to increase his league-leading total to 168 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 19 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 .836, 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.

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 12 of its last 14 games and posting just a 4-10 mark in that span.

WELL, THAT'S NOT MUCH HELP: With Vaughn assuming more of a scoring role due to the losses of Sammy Yeager and D.J. Seeley to injury, the senior guard was held to without an assist for only the third time in 30 games on Thursday night in Santa Barbara, but continues to rank third among active Big West players and 13th on the school's all-time list, trailing Gary Davis (1981-85), who stands 12th with 235 assists as a Titan.

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' rotation thinning, seemingly, every day, 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 in 2012-13. Vaughn, who has played at least 35 minutes in 19 of the team's 30 games overall (including 14 of the last 20), enters the night ranked atop the league at 34.6 mpg while Seeley, who has 11 games of 35 minutes or more is sixth at 32.8 mpg. Harris, who played in a career-high 39 minutes Thursday at Santa Barbara, is seventh in the league at 32.4 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 holds 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: Vaughn ranks second in the league with 12 games of 20 points or more this season while Seeley stands third with 11... Seeley leads all active players with 24 career 20-point games with Vaughn close behind in second with 21 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 8-9 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 6-14 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).