FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton men's basketball hosts the UC Irvine Anteaters on Saturday at 7 p.m. PT. The second game of this season series will be broadcast on ESPNU.
FROM THE TIP
• The Titans are 5-3 in Big West Conference play and snapped a three-game skid on Jan. 27 in a comeback win at then-first-place Hawai'i. The Titans will look for the season sweep against UC Irvine for the first time since 2012 on Saturday night.
• Junior guard Kyle Allman, Jr., the Jan. 8 and Jan. 29 Big West Player of the Week, is now second in the league in scoring at 18.8 points per game overall but in just BWC play, he is first in scoring at 22.1 ppg. Allman is shooting 49.8 percent from the field, the No. 2 mark in the league. He's second on the team in assists at 2.5 per game (50 total) and is first on the team in steals with 23 (1.2 per game). Allman has scored 20+ points eight times this season and 30+ points on four occasions. The Brooklyn native has scored in double figures in 17 of 20 games this year.
• Junior guard Khalil Ahmad, the Big West Player of the Week on Dec. 11, is second on the squad and seventh in the Big West in scoring at 14.7 points per game. He's made the most three-point field goals on the squad at 38 (33.3%). He has made four or more three-point field goals in six games this season. Ahmad is shooting 82.9% percent from the free-throw line this year, the No. 4 mark in the BWC.
• Ahmad is close to becoming the 24th player in program history to score 1,000 career points. He sits at 959 entering the weekend.
• Sophomore forward Jackson Rowe is second in the conference in field goal percentage at 60.3 (85-141). Rowe is one of three Titans to average double figures in scoring at 12.6 per game. He leads the team in rebounding, hauling in 6.3 per contest and is also shooting 50.0 percent (18-36) from beyond the arc, the top mark in the Big West.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3 VS UC IRVINE || 7 PM PT
Series Record: 54-52
Home Record: 24-24
Away Record: 24-26
Neutral Record: 6-2
Current Streak: Won two
First Meeting: 01/15/66 at UC Irvine, L, 74-68
Last Meeting: 01/11/18 at UC Irvine, W, 67-64
UC IRVINE NOTES
• The Anteaters, the reigning Big West Champions, boast an overall record of 10-14 and are 4-3 in league play. Evan Leonard leads the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game and right behind at 11.3 points per game is Eyassu Worku. Worku is the team's leader in assists at 3.7 per game.
• UCI leads the league and is 72nd in the nation in blocks per game at 4.3. Four student-athletes have 15+ blocks and they are led by Jonathan Galloway who has blocked 40 on the year and 1.67 per game.
• UC Irvine owns the backboard, it has a rebounding margin of +7.7 (No. 9 in the country) for the season and is seventh in the nation in total rebounds per game at 41.33.
• The Anteaters are 24th in the country and first in the league at field goal percentage defense with a mark of 40.0.
SET THE TABLE
For CSF, Sophomore guard Austen Awosika is fourth on the team in scoring (7.7ppg), third on the team in rebounding (4.0 rpg) and leads the squad in assists at 2.9. He has hauled in at least three rebounds in 17 of 20 games this season. He has assisted on a team-high 20.9% of his teammates field goals while he's on the court. Awosika also leads the team in +/- rating at a nice cumulative total of +69 for the season. Essentially, when Awosika has been on the court this season, CSF outscores its opponent by 69 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 12.7. At this point in the season, the Titans average 14.3 assists in their wins and only 10.1 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 13 of 17 games, including five games greater than 83%. The Titans have shot 72.8% in wins and 69.8 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 14 of 20 games, CSF had 20 or more attempts at the line. CSF is second in the league in both free throws attempts (495, 54th in the nation) and free throws made (354, 50th 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 15.0 turnovers per game and are still looking to cut that number down.
UPDATING THE RECORD BOOKS
Allman had his name 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. He then had the fifth-best scoring performance in CSF history on Jan. 27 at Hawai'i when he scored 40 points on 16-19 shooting.
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.
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 threes made. He 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 20 games, the team averages 69.6 possessions per 40 minutes (KenPom) which is ranked No. 100 in the country.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
After scoring a career-high 40 points on Saturday night, junior guard Kyle Allman, Jr. was recognized as the Big West Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season and the third time in his career. He averaged 32.0 points per game in a 1-1 split at home against UC Santa Barbara and at Hawai'i. He scored a career-high 40 points, one point off the Stan Sheriff Center single-game points record. Allman dished out a team-high four assists, meaning he had a role in 49 of the team's 69 points in a 69-66 victory.
Allman also 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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