FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton men's basketball will look to get back to its winning ways on Saturday at Long Beach State. The Titans face the 49ers in the Walter Pyramid at 7:30 p.m. PT on Fox Sports West.
FROM THE TIP
• The Titans are 4-1 in Big West Conference play and are one of three teams with one loss in league games along with UC Davis and Hawai'i.
• Junior guard Kyle Allman, Jr., the Jan. 8 Big West Player of the Week, is tops on the team and third in the Big West Conference in scoring at 17.6 ppg on 46.9 percent shooting from the field. He's second on the team in assists at 2.6 per game (44 total) and is first on the team in steals with 19 (1.1 per game). Allman has scored 20+ points six times this season and 30+ points on three occasions. The Brooklyn native has scored in double figures in 12 of the last 13 games.
• Junior guard Khalil Ahmad, the Big West Player of the Week on Dec. 11, is second on the squad and sixth in the Big West in scoring at 16.6 points per game. He is the team's most prolific three-point shooter at 36-101 (35.6%) from beyond the arc. He has made four or more three-point field goals in six games this season. Ahmad is shooting 85.1% percent from the free-throw line this year, the No. 2 mark in the BWC.
• Sophomore forward Jackson Rowe is first in the conference in field goal percentage at 61.2 (71-116). Rowe is one of three Titans to average double figures in scoring at 12.7 per game. He leads the team in rebounding, hauling in 6.4 per contest and is also shooting 60.7 percent (17-28) from beyond the arc, the top mark in the Big West.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 20 AT LONG BEACH STATE || 7:30 PM PT
Series Record: 45-70
Home Record: 30-21
Away Record: 14-39
Neutral Record: 1-10
Current Streak: Won one
First Meeting: 12/10/60 at LBSU, W, 73-68
Last Meeting: 02/11/17 vs. LBSU, W, 74-69
LONG BEACH STATE NOTES
• The 49ers are 9-12 overall, 3-2 in league play and 5-2 at home on the year. Per KenPom, they have the No. 44 ranked strength of schedule in the country this season and the 16th ranked non-conference strength of schedule. The team is led by Gabe Levin who scores 16.4 points per game and has shot 123 free throws (3rd in BWC, 41st in nation) and connected on 96 (3rd in BWC, 43rd in nation) of them for a percentage of 78.0.
• Bryan Alberts is the only other 49er to average double figures in scoring at 14.0 ppg. Deishaun Booker is third on the squad in scoring at 9.8 ppg and is first in the league in assists per game at 5.2.
• Long Beach State is first in the conference and 11th in the nation in free throw attempts (469) and free throws made (339) for a percentage of 72.3.
• The 49ers push the tempo as they average 73.2 possessions per 40 minutes, the No. 23 mark in the nation.
SET THE TABLE
For CSF, Sophomore guard Austen Awosika is third on the team in rebounding at 4.1 per game and leads the squad in assists at 3.0. He has hauled in at least three rebounds in 15 of 17 games this season. He has assisted on a team-high 22.4% of his teammates field goals while he's on the court and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.71, also the best mark on the team. Awosika also leads the team in +/- rating at a cumulative total of +64 for the season. Essentially, when Awosika has been on the court this season, CSF outscores its opponent by 64 points.
MOVE THE BALL
Head coach Dedrique Taylor has emphasized ball movement to the team and it is still a work-in-progress as the team is sixth in assists per game in the conference at 12.9. At this point in the season, the Titans average 14.7 assists in their 11 wins and only 9.7 in their losses. The Titans dished out a season-high 20 assists on Dec. 22 at Loyola Marymount.
CSF entered The Wooden Legacy ranked 351st in the nation in free-throw percentage at 49%. Since then, the team has shot better than 70% in 12 of 14 games, including five games greater than 83%. The Titans have shot 73.4% in wins and 69.2 in losses on the year. The squad is 8-2 when it makes more free throws than the opponent and 7-4 when it has more attempts. In eight of the last 10 games, CSF had 25 or more attempts at the line. CSF is second in the league in both free throws attempts (447, 29th in the nation) and free throws made (321, 27th in the nation).
Taylor has a whiteboard at practice that faces the court and a student manager tracks turnovers and deflections for each individual. It is a point of emphasis for him and the team as he mentions it after every game. The Titans average 15.2 turnovers per game and are still looking to cut that number down.
UPDATING THE RECORD BOOKS
Jackson Rowe and Kyle Allman, Jr. both had their names etched into the Cal State Fullerton record book after The Wooden Legacy over Thanksgiving weekend. Allman poured in a career-high 34 points against Georgia (Nov. 23), one of the best scoring performances in program history. Rowe tied a 37-year old school record for the best field goal percentage in a single game, as he shot 10-10 from the field against Harvard (11/26/17) for a career-high 25 points.
Khalil Ahmad had one of the best scoring performances as well, tying Allman with 34 points of his own against Utah Valley (Dec. 9) with a career-high six three-point field goals.
Ahmad also recorded the third-best performance in program history from the free-throw line in a single game. He shot 100% from the stripe on 14 attempts at Utah Valley on Dec. 30.
PICK YOUR SPOTS
The Titans have tried to pick their spots better in transition and slow the game down in order to get better shots and try to cut down on the turnovers. Taylor is still looking for the team to push the ball when they can and after 17 games, the team averages 71.1 possessions per 40 minutes (KenPom) which is ranked 75th in the country.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kyle Allman, Jr. was earned Big West Player of the Week honors on Jan. 8 after averaging 23.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in a pair of Titan victories. Over the two wins against UC Riverside (68-65, Jan. 3) and Cal Poly (101-97, Jan. 6), the guard shot 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from the field and connected at 72.2 percent (13 of 18) from the charity stripe.
Khalil Ahmad was named Big West Player of the Week on Dec. 11 for his play over the week of Dec. 4-10. Ahmad earned his first career Big West Men's Basketball Player of the Week award after helping Cal State Fullerton win its fourth and fifth straight games. The 6-4 guard averaged 29.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game as the Titans defeated Portland (76-66) on the road and Utah Valley (91-83) at home. He shot 58.8 percent (10-for-17) from distance for the week.
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