BracketBuster Takes Titans to Old Stop

Feb. 19, 2009

Las Cruces, NM -

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UPCOMING:
Sat., Feb. 21 -- at New Mexico State, Pan-American Center (12,482), ESPNU Bracket Buster, 7 p.m. MST
Thur., Feb. 26 -- at UC Riverside, Recreation Center (3,168), 7 p.m.
Tues., March 3 -- at Cal State Bakersfield, Rabobank Arena (10,000), 7 p.m.

IN A NUTSHELL: The Titans (13-13, 7-7) play only one of their next three games in conference, beginning with an ESPNU Bracket Buster matchup at former Big West Conference foe New Mexico State on Saturday night. Fullerton last played in Las Cruces on Jan. 8, 1998, losing to the Aggies, 89-87, in double overtime. The Aggies played each of the next two seasons at Fullerton, winning the last meeting, 80-65, on March 4, 2000. That would be Coach Bob Hawking's final Titan game.

ESPNUBRACKET BUSTER HISTORY: The Titans are 2-1 in Bracket Buster games but 0-3 in the mandated rematches. They beat Eastern Washington on Feb. 18, 2006, 89-63, at home but lost the rematch the next Fall in Cheney, 110-100. They lost at Wright State on Feb. 17, 2007, 77-62, and lost the rematch at home, 84-80. They beat Portland State on Feb. 23, 2008, at home, 85-69, but lost the rematch on Nov. 23 of this season, 76-75, in Portland. The New Mexico State rematch in Fullerton has tentatively been scheduled for Tues., Nov. 24, 2009.

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. Mel Franks will call the New Mexico State game.

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
G 1 Josh Akognon 6-1 Sr. 23.4 3.4r Leads nation with 38 consecutive games with a trey
G 22 Jacques Streeter 6-0 Fr. 10.4 4.0a Had 9 assists, 6-of-6 at foul line all in second half at UC Davis last Saturday
G 0 Aaron Thompson 6-4 Jr. 7.3 3.5r Had season-high 19 points at UC Davis, 14 in first half
F 43 Ray Miller 6-8 Jr. 4.9 3.4r Matched career high with 12 points vs. Cal Poly; leads team with .646 FG%
F 24 Gerard Anderson 6-6 Jr. 9.8 6.0r Scored in double figures in six of last nine games; 9-of-11 FGs at UC Davis
OFF THE BENCH:
G 11 Marcio Lassiter 6-2 Sr. 9.0 2.7r Exploded for 15 second-half points at UC Davis; career high for a game is 17
F 42 Papa Guisse 6-8 Jr. 4.0 4.4r Second in Big West with 1.46 blocked shots; season-high 10 pts. vs. L.Beach
G 21 Chris Rhymes 6-4 Jr. 5.1 2.3r Started six of the last nine games
G 14 Ameer Shamsud-din 6-2 Fr. 1.0 0.9a Erupted for season-high 10 points at Pacific on Feb. 12
F 5 Regan Andersen 6-7 Jr. 1.6 1.5r Well-traveled Milwaukee native; walk-on transfer from Oxnard College
G 44 Kwasi Mensah 6-3 Fr. 0.0 0.2r Walk-on from Rancho Cucamonga HS
DISABLED LIST:
C 55 Adam Thomas 7-2 Jr. 0.8 0.8r 4 points on 2-for-2 shooting at Montana State; out due to ankle injury

EASY FOR ME TO SAY: Josh ah-KOY-uhn &\#149; POP gee-SAY &\#149; Ameer shahm-suh-DEEN &\#149; zyah-KEESE Streeter &\#149; KWAH-zee Mensah &\#149; REE-guhn Andersen

SERIES HISTORY: The Titans trail the all-time series vs. New Mexico State, 23-7. Fullerton is 2-12 in the Pan Am Center, last winning on Feb. 15, 1996, 68-63. New Mexico State has won the last four meetings, most recently on March 4, 2000, 80-65, in Titan Gym.

ABOUT THE AGGIES: New Mexico State (14-12, 8-5) has won three in a row and five out of six. The three wins have been close -- 62-60 at Nevada, 79-71 in overtime vs. Fresno State and 65-63 over Louisiana Tech on Monday night. Jahmar Young (6-5, Soph., G) is the top scorer at 18.2 ppg and Wendell McKines (6-6, Soph., F) is the top rebounder at 9.8 rpg. The Aggies average 75.6 ppg and shoot .397 from the 3-point line.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 105-73 in his sixth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .590, Burton is the winningest coach in Titan history. Alex Omalev, who passed away on Nov. 10 at the age of 88, has the most total victories (139-176) followed by George McQuarn (122-117). Bobby Dye is second in winning percentage at .583 (109-78).

ROAD WARRIORS: Under Bob Burton, the Titans have made dramatic strides as a road team. In the past four seasons plus this year (7-8) , they are 48-39 (.552) away from Titan Gym (includes 10-9 on neutral floors). For the previous 10 seasons (1994-95 thru 2003-04) the combined road record was 30-115 (.207). With a 3-11 mark in his first season (2003-04), Burton's total CSF road record is 51-50 (.505). Fullerton has won five of its last six road games.

FRIENDLY CONFINES?: Under Bob Burton, the Titans are 54-23 (.701) in Historic Titan Gym but only 6-5 this season and only 2-5 in Big West home games. Fullerton's all-time Div. I Titan Gym record is 279-157 (.640). Fullerton also is 1-8 in regular season home games at the Anaheim Convention Center.

CLOSE TO YOU: In 12 non-conference games, Fullerton had only two games decided by 6 or fewer points -- a 1-point loss at Portland State and a 6-point loss to Wake Forest. In 14 conference games, the margin of victory has been by 7 points or less on nine occasions -- a 1-point win at Long Beach; 4-point wins at Cal Poly, at UCSB and at CSUN; a 6-point win vs. UC Riverside; a 7-point win vs. UCSB, a 4-point loss in OT at UC Irvine, a 3-point loss vs. Cal Poly and a 1-point home loss Wednesday to Long Beach.

SECOND-HALF TEAM: Early in the season, the Titans had a problem coming out slowly to begin the second half. Since the beginning of Big West Conference play, that trend has changed. Now they are starting the game slowly and have trailed at the half (by an average of 10 points) in 11 of the 14 games (exceptions: +3 at Cal Poly, +10 at CSUN, +1 at Davis) including all seven home games by an average of 10.0 points. They have come back to win four times (at UCSB, at Long Beach, vs. UCR and vs. UCSB). The season's record when trailing at the half is 4-11 (8-1 when leading at half, 1-1 when tied). Last year's team was 0-6 when trailing at the half but 24-2 when leading and 0-1 when tied. See chart on later page.

BIG COMEBACKS: Fullerton has fashioned some remarkable comebacks this season. Against UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 5, the Titans trailed by 19 points at the half and were down, 47-25 with 17:30 to play. But they finished the game with a 47-18 run to win, 72-65. At UCSB on Jan. 10 they trailed by 13 with 4:30 to go in the first half but caught up 6 minutes into the second half and went on to win, 62-58. At UC Davis on Saturday they went from a 28-15 deficit with 9 minutes to go in the first half to a 69-56 lead at 12:05 of the second half, a 54-28 run over less than 17 minutes. At Long Beach on Jan. 29 they were down, 39-26, with 17:30 to play and came back to win, 61-60, finishing the game with a 35-21 run. Even in defeat -- vs. Cal Poly on Feb. 7, they went from a 31-20 deficit with 4:45 to go in the first half to a 53-43 lead with 12:38 to play, a 33-12 run over a little more than 12 minutes; and vs. Long Beach Wednesday night they went from a 35-23 deficit at 2:32 of the first half to 6 up at 58-52 at 9:13 of the second half for a 35-17 run over 13 minutes.

LOSING BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: Not surprisingly, given the heights on the roster, rebounding has been a problem for the Titans in 2008-09, particularly at the defensive end... In Big West Conference games, the Titans have outrebounded their opponent only twice -- 38-36 at Long Beach State and 36-34 at UC Davis... Although outrebounded by only about 4.5 per game, the Titans have had some glaring disparities and have given up 14.5 offensive rebounds per game... Four of the six worst rebounding disparities of the Bob Burton Era have occurred this season -- minus 29 (56 vs. 27) at LSU, minus 22 (54 vs. 32) vs. Saint Mary's, minus 18 (37 vs. 19) in a win at home over Montana State and minus 17 (49 vs. 32) in Thursday's win over UCSB... The only other game in that neighborhood was minus 23 (50 vs. 27) vs. Wisconsin in last year's NCAA Tournament... Saint Mary's grabbed 26 offensive rebounds; UCSB had 22 and LSU, Central Michigan and UCR each got 20... Only one other team (Cal State Northridge with 21 on Feb. 10, 2007) has collected 20 or more offensive rebounds against a Burton team at CSF.

JUMBLED STANDINGS: Although the Big West Conference standings reflect great parity, it will take some doing to match the closeness of the 1975-76 race in the Big West's previous incarnation as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. The 6-team standings that season ended up with Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State as co-champions at 6-4 followed by San Jose State and San Diego State, each at 5-5, and Fresno State and Pacific, each at 4-6.