FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton men's basketball will host UC Santa Barbara on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. PT on Fox Sports West and then head to Hawai'i to face the Rainbow Warriors on Saturday at 10 p.m. PT.
FROM THE TIP
• The Titans are 4-2 in Big West Conference play and sit in a tie for second place in the standings. Seven of the team's last nine games have been on the road, but three of the next four will be at home in Titan Gym.
• 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 17.3 ppg on 46.3 percent shooting from the field. He's second on the team in assists at 2.4 per game (44 total) and is first on the team in steals with 22 (1.2 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 15 of 18 games this year.
• Junior guard Khalil Ahmad, the Big West Player of the Week on Dec. 11, is second on the squad and fifth in the Big West in scoring at 16.2 points per game. He is the team's most prolific three-point shooter at 37-106 (34.9%) from beyond the arc. 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 956 entering the weekend.
• Sophomore forward Jackson Rowe is first in the conference in field goal percentage at 61.5 (75-122). 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 56.7 percent (17-30) from beyond the arc, the top mark in the Big West.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 25 VS UC SANTA BARBARA || 7:30 PM PT
Series Record: 39-46
Home Record: 23-19
Away Record: 15-26
Neutral Record: 1-1
Current Streak: Lost one
First Meeting: 12/29/76, at UCSB, W, 77-66
Last Meeting: 01/17/18 at UCSB, L, 83-64
UC SANTA BARBARA NOTES
• The Gauchos are 14-5 on the year and 3-2 in conference play. While UCSB is 9-0 at home, it is 4-5 on the road. UCSB also has the conference's leading scorer in Max Heidegger, who scores 21.4 points per game. He shoots 47.0 percent from the field, 44.1 percent from beyond the arc and 72.2 percent at the free-throw line. He also dishes out 2.8 assists per game.
• UCSB has the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference and the 26th-best in the nation at 1.39. They lead the league in assists per game at 15.4.
• UCSB has a prolific offense, scoring 113.5 points per 100 possessions, the No. 41mark in the country (KenPom), and it shoots 47.3 percent from the field (No. 1 in the BWC, No. 61 in the nation). From beyond the arc, the Gauchos are also tops in the league in percentage and 40th in the country at 38.9.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 27 AT HAWAI'I || 10:00 PM PT
Series Record: 3-12
Home Record: 1-4
Away Record: 2-7
Neutral Record: 0-1
Current Streak: Lost one
First Meeting: 11/27/83 at Hawai'i, W, 90-60
Last Meeting: 02/25/17 at Hawai'i, L, 64-58
• The Rainbow Warriors sit atop the Big West Conference standings with a 4-1 league record and are 13-5 overall this season. They have amassed a 12-3 record at home and are just 1-2 on the road.
• Mike Thomas leads the team in scoring (12.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.1 rpg). Sheriff Drammeh is second in scoring at 11.9 points per game and Gibson Johnson is the third Rainbow Warrior to average double figures in scoring at 10.3. Brocke Stepteau scores 9.9 points per game as well.
• Hawai'i is tops in the league and 48th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense, holding the opponent to 31.7 percent from distance.
• The Rainbow Warriors have the No. 53 ranked defense (KenPom) in the country, allowing just 97.1 points per 100 possessions.
SET THE TABLE
For CSF, Sophomore guard Austen Awosika is fourth on the team in scoring (7.3 ppg), third on the team in rebounding (3.9 rpg) and leads the squad in assists at 2.9. He has hauled in at least three rebounds in 15 of 18 games this season. He has assisted on a team-high 22.0% 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 12.6. At this point in the season, the Titans average 14.7 assists in their 11 wins and only 9.3 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 15 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 13 of 18 games, CSF had 20 or more attempts at the line. CSF is second in the league in both free throws attempts (460, 54th in the nation) and free throws made (330, 46th 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
Rowe and Allman 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.
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.
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 18 games, the team averages 70.2 possessions per 40 minutes (KenPom) which is ranked 91st 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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