TIP OFF: Following a successful start to Big West Conference play in front of the hometown faithful and a nationally televised audience, the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team (7-5 overall, 1-0 in conference play) opens a three-game road swing this week, heading to conference newcomer Hawaii on Thursday night (Jan. 3) at 9 p.m. PT before returning to the mainland to take on Cal State Northridge on Saturday (Jan. 5) at 7:05 p.m.
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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. Veteran voice of the Titans, Mike Martinez, will have the call live from The Matadome on Saturday night against the Matadors.
CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?: Those unable to make the trip to Honolulu can catch the game live online for free thanks to Time Warner Oceanic at https://secure.oceanic.com/Streaming/. Both the Hawaii and Cal State Northridge games will also be streamed live via Big West TV. Visit www.bigwest.org/thisweek to access the links.
SCOUTING THE WARRIORS: Hawaii enters the week a mirror image of the Titans, record-wise, standing at 7-5 overall and 1-0 in its first season in the Big West Conference after edging Cal State Northridge, 74-71, in the Warriors' league debut... Hawaii has split its last six contests, including a 1-2 mark at its own Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, defeating East Tennessee State while falling to Miami and Ole Miss... the Warriors are led inside by 6-8 forward Christian Standhardinger and 6-10 center Vander Joaquim, who are averaging 15.7 and 15.3 ppg, respectively, while pacing the team on the glass at 7.8 and 8.3 rpg, respectively... junior guard Brandon Spearman is also in double figures at 10.3 ppg... Hawaii is shooting .454 from the field as a team while holding opponents to just 39 percent from the floor (second in the Big West)... the Warriors are also the second-best rebounding team in the league (42.6 rpg), outrebounding the opposition by almost nine boards per contest.
HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH HAWAII: The series between the Titans and the Warriors is tied at 2-2 with all four meetings coming on the islands... Hawaii posted an 84-70 win in the last meeting between the two teams on Nov. 13, 2010, while Fullerton's last win came in a 90-76 triumph on Nov. 16, 2008.
SCOUTING THE MATADORS: Cal State Northridge enters the week with the best overall record in the Big West at 9-4 overall, but opened league play with a loss at Hawaii to start 0-1... the Matadors will host UC Riverside on Thursday before welcoming the Titans... all four of Northridge's losses have come in the last seven games after opening the year 6-0... sophomore guard Stephan Hicks paces the offense, averaging 18.4 ppg to rank third in the league in scoring entering the week... he also ranks third in rebounding (8.5 rpg), fourth in the league in field goal percentage (.535), sixth in free throw percentage (.808), and tied for third in the league in steals (1.8 spg)... junior guard Josh Greene (13.0 ppg, 4.5 apg) and sophomore forward Stephen Maxwell (12.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg) are also in double figures... Northridge is second in the league in scoring (80.5) and leads the Big West in steals (9.5 spg) entering the week while pacing the conference on the offensive glass (14.2 offensive rebounds per game).
HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Cal State Northridge, 37-29, after sweeping the regular season series with a 70-68 win in Northridge and an 87-76 victory at home last season... the two teams have split the last 10 meetings over the last four seasons... the Titans have won eight of the last nine meetings at The Matadome dating back to the 2003-04 season, winning seven-straight in the series before falling in the first meeting during the 2010-11 season... Fullerton is 9-4 at Northridge since the 1989-90 season.
ALOHA, OAHU: Thursday's game will mark Fullerton's seventh basketball trip to Hawaii, all on the island of Oahu, where the Titans are 5-10... at Blaisdell Arena, the Titans went 1-2 in the 1981-82 season, losing to Wichita State and Michigan State and beating Bradley in the Rainbow Classic; they swept McNeese State and Hawaii in a season-opening tournament in 1983-84; and they went 1-2 in 1985-86, beating BYU-Hawaii between losses at Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific. Fullerton is just 1-6 at the Stan Sheriff Center, opening the 2002-03 season with losses to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Arkansas-Little Rock and opened the 2008-09 season in the Verizon Wireless TipOff Classic with a loss to Texas State and a win over Hawaii behind a Sheriff Center record 41-point effort by Josh Akognon. Fullerton then tipped-off the 2010-11 season with three-straight losses at the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic, falling to Central Michigan, Hawaii, and Montana State.
YEAGER NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cal State Fullerton senior forward Sammy Yeager was named the Big West Conference men's basketball Player of the Week on Monday (Dec. 31) after a career night helped the Titans to a win in their league opener against UC Santa Barbara. Yeager, who became the second Fullerton player to earn weekly honors from the conference this season, finished with a career high 30 points on 11-of-16 from the floor and 8-of-11 from three-point range (also career bests). He also added four rebounds, a pair of assists, and a steal in 37 minutes.
MORE ON YEAGER'S BIG NIGHT: With his 30 points against the Gauchos, Yeager became the second Titan this season to reach the 30-point plateau, standing behind only teammate D.J. Seeley, who had a Big West-best 32 points against Southern Utah on Nov. 17. Yeager also flirted with the school's single-game mark of 11 makes from long distance set by Bobby Brown against Bethune-Cookman in 2006 as the Modesto native accounted for more than half of the Titans' 14 makes from three-point range -- just three shy of the school single-game team record of 17 set against UCSB on Feb. 4 of last season.
WATCH OUT, HOOSIERS: Cal State Fullerton's 83.8 ppg entering the week trail only #5 Indiana's 89.4 ppg for the title of the highest-scoring team in the nation while continuing to rank among the NCAA's top 10 in four other categories: free throw percentage (5th at .786), three-point field goals made per game (7th at 9.2 pg), and three-point percentage (9th at .409). Fullerton also ranks among the top 20 in field goal percentage, shooting .499 from the floor to rank 13th in the country.
SPEAKING OF SCORING: Despite a flip-flop from last week's rankings, the Titan backcourt tandem of senior guards Kwame Vaughn and D.J. Seeley continue to lead the conference in scoring, entering the week ranked 1-2 in the Big West in scoring at 19.0 and 18.4 points per game, respectively, while also standing 32nd and 49th in the nation. The last Titan to lead the league in scoring was Josh Akognon (23.9 ppg) in 2009 -- one of only three Fullerton players to have paced the Big West in that category since 1970: Leon Wood in 1984 (24.0 ppg), Cedric Ceballos in 1989 (21.2 ppg) and 1990 (23.1 ppg), and Ralphy Holmes in 2005 (16.9 ppg).
WE'RE GOING STREAKING!: Cal State Fullerton's win streak reached a season-best four games with its victory over UC Santa Barbara last week -- the Titans' longest run since they won six-straight from Feb. 2-23 last season. During its current run, Fullerton is averaging 83.0 ppg, has four players averaging better than 12 points per game, and is shooting .536 (120-for-224) from the field. On the other side of the ball, the Titans are holding opponents to just 70.8 ppg despite allowing them to shoot .476 (107-for-225) from the floor.
12-FOR-12: Seniors D.J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn remain as the only two Titans to reach double figures in all 12 games this season. Dating back to last year, Seeley, who tied a career high with 32 points against Southern Utah on Nov. 17, has reached double figures in his last 18 consecutive games while Vaughn, who has 20-or-more points five times this season, has a current streak of 16 games. Seeley's last single-digit game was on Feb. 18, 2011, against Montana State (6 points) while Vaughn's was on Feb. 25, 2011, at UC Davis (6 points).
BRANDON BENCHED: But this seems to be a good thing. After making eight consecutive starts following a solid Division I debut at Stanford in the season opener, Brandon has done a bang-up job coming off the bench for the Titans, tallying four of his five double-digit performances -- including three-straight -- as a reserve while shooting 24-for-30 (.800) from the floor and averaging 14.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg in those four contests.
EIGHT(Y) IS GREAT(Y)...: What a difference a point makes. Fullerton is a perfect 6-0 this season when scoring 80 points or more, but just 1-5 when scoring 79 points or fewer.
...AND NINETY IS NICE: Fullerton's 93 points in its win at Texas Southern marked the fourth time in seven 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 91.9 ppg in its victories this season while holding opponents to just 70.6 ppg.
SATURDAY NIGHT'S ALRIGHT FOR WINNING: Saturday night's league-opening win over UC Santa Barbara improved Cal State Fullerton to 3-0 this season on Saturday's -- the only unbeaten night of the week for the Titans thus far.
MMMM... TURNOVERS: Apple. Cherry. Basketball-flavored? We may be reaching on that last one, but it still tastes good to the Titans, who committed a season-low seven turnovers in their victory over UC Santa Barbara, giving Fullerton back-to-back games of fewer than 10 turnovers in a game for the first time since 2008 at UC Davis (seven turnovers on Feb. 14) and against Long Beach State (nine turnovers on Feb. 18). The seven turnovers against the Gauchos were the fewest since the Titans finished with the same number in a one-point loss to UC Riverside on Feb. 5, 2011.
WHEN YOU MAKE THEM, YOU DON'T NEED TO REBOUND THEM: Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara combined to make better than 50 percent of its shots in its Big West-opening clash, leaving few loose balls to corral. However, the Titans' 23 rebounds against the Gauchos on Saturday night were a season low and the fewest for a Fullerton squad since the Titans grabbed just 19 total rebounds against Montana State in a 74-60 loss on Dec. 9, 2008, while the four offensive rebounds were the fewest since they had three at San Diego State in an 82-68 loss on Dec. 9.
OR YOUR POINTS ARE FREEEEEEEEE!: They say there's no such thing as a free lunch. However, there is such a thing as free points, and the Titans proved that on Saturday night against UC Santa Barbara, finishing 20-for-21 (.952) at the line (making their first 20 consecutive freebies) behind a career-high tying 12-for-12 from Kwame Vaughn and a perfect 8-for-8 from D.J. Seeley. It was the fourth time this season that Cal State Fullerton has made at least 20 from the stripe this season and its best single-game shooting performance from the line since the Titans finished a perfect 12-for-12 against Montana State on Feb. 18, 2012.
KWAME FOR FREEEEE!: For Vaughn, Saturday marked the third time in the last four games that the senior has been perfect from the line this season and the third game of 10-or-more makes from the stripe after finishing 11-for-11 against Green Bay on Nov. 18 and 11-for-13 against Eastern Washington on Nov. 30.
HORNE REMAINS OUT: Cal State Fullerton junior forward Marquis Horne is still listed as questionable for this week's conference contests at Hawaii and Cal State Northridge, sidelined with an injured shoulder. The date of his return is unknown. Horne has missed the team's last six games dating back to the Dec. 2 contest against Washington. In six starts this season, he is averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting .484 from the floor.
PLAYING FROM AHEAD: The Titans' eight-point advantage at the break against UC Santa Barbara marked the 11th time in 12 games this season that Fullerton has either led or been tied with its opponent (6-5 record in those games) at halftime. In the only game that the Titans have trailed at the half (at Texas Southern on Dec. 16), Fullerton rallied from a five-point halftime deficit -- and an eventual 10-point second half gap -- thanks to a 14-0 run en route to a 93-86 win.
SWEET SOUNDING QUARTET: The Titans' win over UC Santa Barbara marked the ninth time in 12 games that they have had at least four players in double figures this season, improving to 6-3 in those games.
YES, "HALF" SOME: Fullerton has scored at least 40 points in a half 14 times in 24 halves of action this season (58.3%)... the Titans' 61-point second half at Texas Southern was its highest-scoring half of the year, eclipsing a 57-point first half against Southern Utah on Nov. 17... it was the best half scoring-wise for a Fullerton squad since the Titans scored 70 points against Redlands in last year's season opener on Nov. 11, 2011.
#BULLSEYE: The marksmanship medal should go to the Titans as they approach the start of Big West play as Fullerton is, perhaps, the Big West Conference's best shooting team thus far. The Titans lead the league in all three shooting categories entering the week: field goal percentage (.499 to Pacific's .469), three-point percentage (.409 to UC Davis' .363), and free throw percentage (.786 to Cal State Northridge's .754).
WINNING COMFORTABLY: Although you only have to have one more point than the other team at the buzzer, the Titans have comfortably put away opponents in their seven victories this season as five of the wins have come via double digits with the only "blemishes" being a seven-point win at Texas Southern on Dec. 16 and a seven-point win over UCSB last weekend. On the flip side, only one of Fullerton's five losses have come by double digits (13 points at Stanford on Nov. 12) with its last four-straight defeats decided by a total of 11 points combined -- all by four points or fewer.
TWENTY-POINT TIDBITS: 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 4-5 when that occurs in 2012-13... the duo has reached 20 points in the same game nine times during their Fullerton careers (eight of those coming last season and once this year), posting a 6-3 mark in those contests (5-0 at home, 1-2 on the road, and 0-1 on a neutral floor).
THEY GIVETH AND THEY TAKETH AWAY: When not scoring, multi-faceted senior guards D.J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn have also been doing the little things, entering the week ranked among the league's top 10 in both assists and steals -- two of only five players to do so entering the week. Seeley leads the league at 2.3 spg and ranks seventh at 4.2 apg while Vaughn is eighth in assists (3.8 apg) and tied for ninth in steals (1.3 spg).
ALRIGHT, YOU'VE MADE YOUR POINT: With their win over San Diego Christian, the Titans improved to 53-1 all-time when scoring at least 100 points as the 106 points rank among the top 20 point totals in school history. Earlier this season, Cal State Fullerton's 112 points in a 43-point win over Southern Utah on Nov. 17 is tied for the sixth-highest point total in school history and the most for the Titans since they put up 118 points against Redlands just over a year ago to the day on Nov. 11, 2011. The record stands at 128 points against Chapman University on Jan. 8, 1972, in a 128-88 victory.
REAL STEAL REDUX: After scouring the record books, we were able to come up with another nugget for the Titans' 20-steal performance against Southern Utah on Nov. 17, as the total marked the most for the Fullerton defense since a 27-steal night against Lamar on Nov. 24, 1989, as part of a, 104-67, victory. The 20 swipes against Southern Utah were the most for a member of the Big West since Cal State Northridge finished with 24 swipes against Redlands on Nov. 15, 2006 and, of those 20 steals against the Thunderbirds, senior D.J. Seeley finished with nearly a third of the team's total as his career-high seven steals were just two shy of the school's single game record set by Cedric Ceballos against San Jose State on Jan. 19, 1989.