Key Men's Game Has Many Sub-Plots

Jan. 11, 2008

Fullerton, Calif. -

UPCOMING:
Sat., Jan. 12 -- UC Santa Barbara, Titan Gym (4,000), 6:05 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 17 -- at Pacific, Spanos Center (6,150), 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 19 -- at UC Davis, The Pavilion (7,600), 7 p.m.

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IN A NUTSHELL: The Titans (10-4, 3-0) are off to their best conference start since 1984 (4-0) and host struggling title favorite UC Santa Barbara (12-4, 1-2) Saturday at 6:05 p.m., the midpoint of CSF's regular season. Fullerton has won six of the last seven meetings with the Gauchos, consensus first-place picks who have lost consecutive games to Cal State Northridge at home and at UC Irvine on Thursday night by a 66-63 margin.

THE SUB-PLOTS THICKEN: Coaches Bob Williams of UCSB and Bob Burton of CSF are close friends... CSF leads the Big West in scoring (83.3 ppg) while the Gauchos are the top defensive team (65.3 ppg)... CSF is No. 1 in 3-point field goal percentage (.433) and UCSB is No. 1 in 3-point FG percentage defense (.313)... three Titans (Junior Russell, Kenneth Alexander and Marcus Morgan) played at West Valley JC (Burton's former haunt) for Coach Danny Yoshikawa, a first-year assistant coach at UCSB... and UCSB's Alex Harris (21.7 ppg) and CSF's Josh Akognon (20.8 ppg) are the top two scorers in the Big West.

AUDIO: All Titan games can be heard live on the internet on computers with sound cards. Listeners may access the CSF Athletics home page at www.fullertontitans.com and follow the links. Mike Martinez will announce the UCSB contest.

VIDEO: All Titan home games and road Big West Conference games are available via videostreaming on a subscription basis. Details are available on the Big West website at www.bigwest.org.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg r/apg Quick Notes
F 2 Scott Cutley* 6-5 Sr. 13.2 6.9r Just missed triple double vs. SUU w/15 points, 10 boards, 8 assists
F 34 Marcus Morgan* 6-5 Jr. 5.9 6.3r Career highs of 13 points at Arizona, 11 rebounds at Saint Mary's
G 1 Josh Akognon 6-1 Jr. 20.8 3.1r 30-or-more points three times this season
F 5 Frank Robinson** 6-4 Sr. 15.8 6.5r Second double-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds vs. UC Irvine
G 15 Junior Russell 5-6 Jr. 5.6 2.5a Made all 6 shots (4 treys) to match season high with 16 points vs. Cal Poly
OFF THE BENCH:
C 21 Kenneth Alexander* 6-6 Sr. 4.1 2.1r Career-high 17 pts. off the bench at Southern Utah
G 22 Ray Reed* 5-11 Sr. 3.8 1.2a Season-high 11 points vs. Southern Utah
G 54 Marcus Crenshaw* 5-10 Jr. 10.4 2.5a Scored 16 points in 20 minutes vs. UC Irvine
C 42 Andrew Green* 6-6 Sr. 4.0 2.9r Grabbed 7 rebounds in 20 minutes at UC Riverside
G 11 Marcio Lassiter 6-2 Jr. 3.0 0.7a Career-high 11 points in 10 minutes vs. Furman
C 13 Eddie Lima 6-9 Jr. 2.1 1.6r Made 3 of 4 shots vs. CSU Bakersfield; slowed by knee injury
*letters earned

SERIES HISTORY: The Titans have won six of the last seven meetings with the Gauchos, who still hold a 32-31 advantage. Fullerton has won the last three meetings in Titan Gym, reversing a 7-year UCSB winning streak in Fullerton.

ABOUT THE GAUCHOS: The pre-season pick to win the Big West Conference championship has lost 3 of 5 games since a 10-1 start including back-to-back conference games to CSUN and at UCI. Veterans Alex Harris (21.7 ppg), Chris Devine (13.4 ppg), James Powell (10.6 ppg) and Ivan Elliott (9.6 ppg) lead the scoring and Elliott (6.0 rpg) and Devine (5.5 rpg) are the top rebounders. The Gauchos are second to Fullerton in the Big West in 3-point field goal percentage (.421) led by Elliott (.531) and Harris (.528). UCSB's first two losses were at Stanford and at North Carolina.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 78-55 in his fifth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .586, Burton has again inched past Bobby Dye (109-78, .583) as the winningest coach in Titan history. He is 6-3 against Williams, 3-1 in Titan Gym.

THE ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH: Andy Newman will conduct the second Titan Athletics Club Chalk Talk at 4 p.m. Saturday in the University Village dining hall. Complimentary appetizers, soft drinks and adult beverages will be available. University Village is located at Yorba Linda Blvd. and Oxford Ave., across the street from the Arboretum. All Titan fans are welcome. There is no admission fee.

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Bob Burton, the Titans are 43-16 (.729) in Titan Gym including 6-1 this season.

OUT OF THE GATE: The Titans have dusted off the record book in bolting to a 3-0 conference start for the first time since Coach George McQuarn's 1983-84 team opened 4-0 behind senior point guard Leon Wood. The Titans won their conference opener at home for the first time since 1984 (0-10 in the interim) with a 93-83 win over UC Irvine on Jan. 4 and then posted their most lopsided road victory in 11 seasons with a 77-47 win at UC Riverside on Monday night. The Titans held UCR to 27.1 percent shooting from the floor, the lowest figure by a Div. I opponent (second lowest overall) since records are available (since the 1980-81 season). Thursday night they scored their second most lopsided Big West win over Cal Poly (14 points), snapping a 2-game losing streak to the Mustangs.

HEALING MAN CUTLEY: The Titans' returning first-team All-Big West Conference senior forward Scott Cutley returned to the practice floor during Thanksgiving weekend, came off the bench at Arizona and started at Montana, six weeks after suffering a fractured right ankle. Last season he missed only one game despite a broken thumb. He currently ranks No. 2 in the Big West in rebounding at 6.9 rpg per game and No. 11 in scoring at 13.3 points per game. He posted three consecutive double-doubles vs. Central Michigan, Southern Utah and Montana and just missed a triple-double vs. the Thunderbirds.

AKOGNON LIKES THE TEMPO: Josh Akognon is already two-thirds of the way toward breaking the Cal State Fullerton single-season record for 3-point field goals (89 by Don Leary in 1992-93). With 60 treys in 14 games, he is averaging 4.29 per game and if he maintains that pace he would hit No. 90 in game No. 21 on Feb. 7 at UC Santa Barbara. He has made four or more in a game nine times (Thursday night he had 4 in the first 9 minutes; Monday he had 5 in the first half) with a best of seven on three occasions. The Washington State transfer led the Cougars in scoring in 2005-06 and made just under two treys per game while averaging 10.3 points. This year he is among the Big West leaders in scoring (2nd at 20.8 ppg), 3-point field goals (1st at 4.29 per game) and free-throw percentage (1st at .897 on 35 of 39). At Saint Mary's he grabbed a career-high 9 rebounds.

ROBINSON REBOUNDS: Frank Robinson sat out the Dec. 17 Southern Utah game with an ankle injury but has played well since returning. He scored 16 of his game-high 20 points before intermission on 6-for-9 shooting vs. Montana and had 22 points and 5 rebounds vs. Wright State. At the Saint Mary's tournament he averaged 15 points and 5.5 rebounds. He ranks No. 4 in scoring and No. 4 in rebounding in the Big West but a 1-for-10 in 3-point shooting the last two games has knocked him out of the top ten in makes and percentage. He bounced back from one of his worst games as a Titan at Arizona to score a career-high 30 points at Montana to go with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. He was 1-for-7 from the floor in Tucson and 11-for-16 in Missoula. He's had two double-doubles -- at Central Michigan with 15 points and 10 rebounds and vs. UCI with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

MORGAN SHINES IN TOUGHEST SPOTS: Marcus Morgan has had his best statistical games against the tougher opponents this season. At Arizona he scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds while playing solid defense. At Saint Mary's he had another strong defensive game and had 7 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. His biggest play of the year was blocking the potential game-winning layup by Montana's Andrew Strait with one second left in regulation on Dec. 20. He has made 8-of-10 field goals in Big West play, averaging 7.7 ppg and 7.7 rpg.

CRENSHAW SPARK PLUG: Junior guard Marcus Crenshaw, the Big West Conference's Sixth Man of the Year in 2006-07, continues to provide an offensive spark off the bench, ranking as the Titans' No. 4 scorer at 10.4 points per game. He started at Montana (and Central Michigan) after 31 consecutive appearances off the bench. He also started his first three games as a Titan in November of 2006 when the roster was short three suspended players. With 118 3-point baskets as a Titan, he has moved into the No. 10 spot on the Titans' career list but he is still 51 attempts away from that Top Ten. In the last five home games he is 17-for-30 (.567) from behind the arc compared to 5-for-22 (.227) over the last four road games.

RUSSELL ERUPTS: Point guard Junior Russell has been a Jekyl-Hyde scorer this season. He has scored 9 or more points 5 times and had 2 or less on seven occasions. Twice he has scored 16 points -- at Central Michigan and Thursday night vs. Cal Poly, when he got 8 points in the first four minutes en route to a 6-for-6 shooting effort that included four treys. He missed most of the second half vs. Furman due to a head injury.

TWO-HEADED POINT GUARD: The Titans have replaced departed point guard Bobby Brown (starring in Germany) with the tandem of Junior Russell and Marcus Crenshaw. The righthanded Russell usually starts but southpaw Crenshaw has played more minutes (23.4 to 17.9 mpg). Each has 35 assists. Combined, they are averaging 16.0 points and 5.0 assists, not far off Brown's senior year numbers of 20.2 ppg and 5.1 apg.

INSTANT OFFENSE: Like Marcus Crenshaw, Marcio Lassiter has provided an offensive spark off the bench. The transfer from San Francisco City College scored 9 points in 11 minutes at Montana, 8 points in 19 minutes vs. Montana and 11 points in 10 minutes vs. Furman.

FROM THE PERIMETER: Through games of Jan. 6, the Titans were second in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage at .433, a number still good after a combined 22-for-51 vs. UCR and Cal Poly. Josh Akognon has only the third best percentage (.4379) on the team, trailing Junior Russell (.571 on 12 of 21) and Marcio Lassiter (.500 on 9 of 18). Crenshaw is at .4375 (35 of 80). Scott Cutley had made only 1 of 9 this season until making 2 of 3, all in the first seven minutes, on Thursday night. Frank Robinson has made only 1 of his last 10 tries.

30-POINT VICTORIES: The Titans have won three games by 30 or more points (Southern Utah, Furman and at UC Riverside) this season and nine (one on the road) in Coach Bob Burton's four-plus year tenure. By comparison, predecessors Donny Daniels had one 30-or-more-point win in three seasons, Bob Hawking had four (one on the road) in six seasons, Brad Holland had none in two seasons, John Sneed had one in four seasons, George McQuarn had 10 (one on the road) in eight seasons and Bobby Dye had seven (two on the road) in six seasons. The list of road Div. I era 30-point wins: 101-69 at Cal State Bakersfield on 1/3/76; 87-56 at Cal State Northridge on 11/27/76; 90-60 at Hawaii on 11/27/83; 89-57 at UC Irvine on 1/25/97; and 77-47 at UC Riverside on 1/7/08.

FALL SIGNEES: The Titans signed two incoming players during the November signing period -- Aaron Thompson, a 6-4, 205-pound junior wing from Cerritos College and previously of Washington High School in L.A.; and Jacques Streeter, a 6-foot, 175-pound point guard at Finley Prep School in Las Vegas and previously at Fremont High School in L.A.