FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton men's basketball squares off against Long Beach State on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. PT at the Honda Center in the quarterfinal round of the Big West Tournament.
FROM THE TIP
• The Titans enter the postseason as the No. 4 seed in the Big West Tournament and face No. 5 seed Long Beach State. In conference tournament history, the Titans are 2-3 all-time as the No. 4 seed. The last time the team was seeded fourth was in 1989 and they advanced to the semifinal round.
• It was announced on March 5 that junior guard Kyle Allman, Jr. was named to the All-Big West Conference first team, junior guard Khalil Ahmad was named to the second team and sophomore forward Jackson Rowe was an honorable mention.
• Junior guard Kyle Allman, Jr., the Jan. 8 and Jan. 29 Big West Player of the Week, is tied for first in the league in scoring at 19.4 points per game overall and in just BWC play, he led the way at 21.6 ppg. Allman is shooting 49.1 percent from the field, the No. 3 mark in the league. He's second on the team in assists at 2.2 per game (61 total) and is second on the team in steals with 31 (1.1 per game). Allman has scored 20+ points 14 times this season, including four of the final five regular-season games, and 30+ points on four occasions. The Brooklyn native has scored in double figures in 25 of 28 games this year. Allman has made eight or more free-throw attempts 10 times this year.
• Junior guard Khalil Ahmad, the Big West Player of the Week on Dec. 11 and Feb. 12, is second on the squad and sixth in the Big West in scoring at 15.3 points per game. He's made the most three-point field goals on the squad at 51 (34.0%). He has made four or more three-point field goals in eight games this season. Ahmad is shooting 81.4% percent from the free-throw line this year, which is the No. 5 mark in the BWC.
• Ahmad became the 24th Titan in program history to score 1,000 points in a career after scoring 31 at UC Davis (Feb. 10). Allman joined him in the 1K Club on Feb. 28 when he scored 23 points at CSUN.
• Sophomore forward Jackson Rowe is third in the conference in field goal percentage at 58.4 (118-202). Rowe is one of three Titans to average double figures in scoring at 12.1 per game. He leads the team and is fifth in the league in rebounding, hauling in 6.7 per contest. For the year, Rowe is also shooting 44.0 percent (22-50) from beyond the arc. Rowe recorded three double-doubles during the regular season and was flirting with a triple-double against CSUN (Feb. 17) when he had 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. He is the team's leading shot blocker with 28 on the season.
THURSDAY, MARCH 8 VS. LONG BEACH STATE || 2:30 PM PT
Series Record: 46-71
Home Record: 31-21
Away Record: 14-40
Neutral Record: 1-10
Current Streak: Won one
First Meeting: 12/10/60 at LBSU, W, 73-68
Last Meeting: 2/24/18 vs. LBSU, W, 81-71
LONG BEACH STATE NOTES
• The 49ers are 15-17 overall, 9-7 in league play and are riding a two-game winning streak entering the conference tournament. The team is led by Gabe Levin, a first-team All-Big West honoree, who scores 18.4 points per game and has shot 213 free throws (1st in BWC, 25th in nation) and connected on 172 (1st in BWC, 23rd in nation) of them for a percentage of 80.8.
• Bryan Alberts (11.6 ppg) and Deishaun Booker (10.2ppg) are the only other 49ers to score in double figures. Booker is first in the league in assists per game at 4.6.
• Long Beach State is first in the conference and 24th in the nation in free throw attempts (733) and free throws made (532) for a percentage of 72.6.
• The 49ers push the tempo as they average 71.9 possessions per 40 minutes, the No. 31 mark in the nation.
SET THE TABLE
For CSF, sophomore guard Austen Awosika is fourth on the team in scoring (7.6ppg), third on the team in rebounding (3.9 rpg) and leads the squad in assists at 2.7. He has hauled in at least three rebounds in 22 of 28 games this season. He has assisted on a team-high 18.7% of his teammates field goals while he's on the court. Awosika also leads the team in +/- rating at a nice cumulative total of +109 for the season. Essentially, when Awosika has been on the court this season, CSF outscores its opponent by 109 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 fourth in assists per game in the conference at 12.8. At this point in the season, the Titans average 14.6 assists in their wins and only 9.5 in their losses. The Titans dished out a season-high 21 assists on Feb. 17 against Cal State Northridge.
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 all but five games, including seven games greater than 83%. The squad is 10-2 when it makes more free throws than the opponent and 10-5 when it has more attempts. In 20 of 28 games, CSF had 20 or more attempts at the line. CSF is second in the league in both free throws attempts (664) and free throws made (485) on the year.
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 14.4 turnovers per game and are still looking to cut that number down. On Feb. 17 against Cal State Northridge, the Titans had a season-low eight turnovers.
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 28 games, the team averages 70.1 possessions per 40 minutes (KenPom) which is ranked No. 84 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.
Ahmad also earned the honor on Feb. 12 after averaging 26.5 points on 70.4% shooting in a pair of Titan victories last weekend. Ahmad shot a remarkable 70.4% (19-of-27) from the floor overall, including five made three-pointers (in 10 attempts) while sinking all but one of his 11 free throw tries.
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