FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton men's basketball begins a 13-day road trip on Tuesday that begins on Thursday against UCF at 10:30 a.m. PT in the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
FROM THE TIP
• Cal State Fullerton embarks on a five-game road trip starting with UCF and the inaugural Myrtle Beach Invitational. For the second straight year, the Titans are set to play in an ESPN Events preseason tournament after going 2-1 in the Wooden Legacy in 2017-18. Each team is guaranteed three games over the course of the tournament and the Titans will face either Saint Joseph's or Wake Forest on the second day of competition.
• Junior guard Kyle Allman, Jr., led the Big West in scoring at 19.5 points per game overall for the 2017-18 campaign. In just BWC play, he led the way at 21.6 ppg. Allman shot 48.9 percent from the field, the No. 1 mark in the league (per NCAA). Along with his scoring, Allman was second on the team in assists at 2.4 per game (75 total) and was second on the team in steals with 36 (1.1 per game). Allman scored 35 points in the season-opening game at Arizona State but sat out against West Coast Baptist to rest. The Brooklyn native has scored 20+ in 3 straight games dating back to last season and has scored 10+ in 21 of his last 22 games.
• Senior guard Khalil Ahmad was second on the squad and sixth in the Big West in scoring at 15.1 points per game last season. He made the most three-point field goals on the squad at 57. He made four or more three-point field goals in eight games this season. Ahmad shot 82.9% percent from the free-throw line last year which was the No. 5 mark in the BWC (per NCAA). To start this year, Ahmad is averaging 21.0 points per game after scoring 31 at Arizona State and 11 against West Coast Baptist in just nine minutes.
• Ahmad became the 24th Titan in program history to score 1,000 points in a career after scoring 31 at UC Davis (Feb. 10, 2018). He has totaled 1,191 points in his career, the 13th-best mark in the program. Allman joined him in the 1K Club on Feb. 28 when he scored 23 points at CSUN (Feb. 16, 2018). He sits 1,137 points for his career, No. 18 all-time.
• Junior forward Jackson Rowe was third in the conference in field goal percentage (per Big West) at 58.1(136-234). Rowe averaged 12.1 points per game, third on the team behind Allman and Ahmad. He led the team and was fifth in the league in rebounding, hauling in 6.7 per contest. For the 17-18 year, he shot 41.1 percent (24-58) from beyond the arc. Rowe made his season debut against West Coast Baptist and stuffed the stat sheet as he scored 16 points on 6-7 shooting, grabbed a team-high 7 rebounds, dished out two assists, blocked two shots and had a steal.
INAUGURAL MYRTLE BEACH INVITE
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, has revealed the bracket for the inaugural Myrtle Beach Invitational on November 15, 16 & 18 at the HTC Center in Conway, SC.
The top half of the bracket will feature St. Joseph's vs. Wake Forest and UCF vs. Cal State Fullerton. Wake Forest is expected to have a bounce back year behind its strong recruiting class, ranked 17th overall in the ESPN rankings; while St. Joseph's has earned a postseason bid in four of the past seven seasons. Cal State Fullerton is appearing in its second consecutive ESPN Events early-season tournament (2017 Wooden Legacy). Cal State Fullerton will face a UCF squad expected to be one of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference.
On the bottom half of the bracket, Valparaiso will make its first appearance in an ESPN Event with a showdown against Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are coming off a 27-win season that included a deep run to the NIT semifinals. Monmouth, a team that has won the regular season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) title in two of the past three seasons, will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers. The Mountaineers have earned an NCAA tournament bid in nine out of the last 11 seasons, including back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in 2017 and 2018.
The bracket-format tournament will feature 12 games over three days. The teams compete once per day, regardless of results. The two remaining undefeated teams will face off in the championship game on Sunday, November 18 at 6:30 p.m. that will air on ESPN2.
LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN...AND EIGHT
Each of the three times the Titans have qualified for the NCAA Tournament it has been in seasons that end in 7-8. CSF went to the "Elite Eight" in 1977-78, played in the first round in 2007-08 as well as 2017-18. In both 2007-08 and 2017-18, CSF played UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament final and earned victories on both occasions.
2018 BIG WEST TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
The Titans won the league tournament for the third time in program history. In the quarterfinal round, the No. 4 seeded CSF defeated Long Beach State by a score of 76-74 with the Titans getting a defensive stop on the final possession to secure the win. In the semifinal matchup against No. 1 seed UC Davis, the Titans came back from a 13-point deficit in the second half to beat the Aggies 55-52. After two nail biters, CSF cruised to a 71-55 victory over UC Irvine in the final, leading for over 36 minutes of the game and played what head coach Dedrique Taylor called, the team's best game of the year. The trio of Allman, Ahmad and Rowe combined to score 145 of the 202 points CSF scored in those three games.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15 VS. UCF || 10:30 AM PT
Series Record: 0-0
Home Record: 0-0
Away Record: 0-0
Neutral Record: 0-0
Current Streak: N/A
First Meeting: N/A
Last Meeting: N/A
For the first time in program history, UCF was picked by its league's coaches to win the conference, earning six of the 12 first place votes in the American Athletic Conference's Preseason Coaches Poll. The Knights are also receiving votes in both the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll and the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll for the first time ever.
UCF returns The American Preseason Player of the Year B.J. Taylor and Preseason All-Conference honoree Tacko Fall, in addition to a majority of last year's squad. The Knights hit the court for the first time last week, defeating Flagler in an exhibition, 86-69.
UCF is coming off of 43 wins in its first two seasons under head coach Johnny Dawkins, the most victories in consecutive seasons since winning back-to-back ASUN Championships in 2004 and 2005.
SET THE TABLE
For CSF, junior guard Austen Awosika was fourth on the team in scoring last year (7.2 ppg), fourth on the team in rebounding (3.6 rpg) and led the squad in assists at 2.7 per game. He hauled in at least three rebounds in 23 of 32 games this season. He assisted on a team-high 18.3% of his teammates field goals while on the court. Awosika also had a team-high +109 plus-minus rating, meaning CSF has out-scored the opponent by 109 points this season with him on the floor. Per 40 minutes, he has a rating of +5.08. For this season, Awosika is average 6.0 points per game, he leads the team in assists with 12 total (6 per game) and is tops on the squad with six total blocks. In 62 total minutes he has just three turnovers.
UPDATING THE RECORD BOOKS
Last season, Allman had his name etched into the Cal State Fullerton record book after The Wooden Legacy over Thanksgiving weekend. Allman poured in a-then 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.
ONLY TWO NEW FACES
The Titans just two newcomers to the squad this season in freshman guard Wayne Arnold and forward Amel Kuljuhovic. Arnold prepped at Dominguez High School in Compton while Kuljuhovic is a transfer from Lake Land College. Arnold is a high-level shooter he showed against West Coast Baptist when he scored 23 points to lead all scorers, including four three-point field goals. Kuljuhovic has the size to work down low but can also stretch the defense with his jump shot. He is averaging 4.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game thus far.
BIG WEST FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR HISTORY
Senior guard Khalil Ahmad and junior forward Jackson Rowe are two of the last three Big West Freshman of the Year honorees. Ahmad put together one of the best freshman campaigns in program history during the 2015-16 season. He holds the freshman school records in points (429), scoring average (14.3), field goals made (138) and free throws made, attempted and percentage (112-144, .778).
Rowe claimed the award in 2016-17 by scoring 10.4 points per game (No. 4 in CSF freshman history) and 7.2 rebounds per game (No. 2 in CSF freshman history). Rowe also shot 55.2 percent from the field on the year, the second-best mark in school history for freshmen.
AROUND THE WORLD
The Titans have four student-athletes on the team from outside the United States. Junior Jackson Rowe is a native of Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Senior Dominik Heinzl is from Uzov, Czech Republic, redshirt freshman Gaber Ozegovic hails from Kranj, Slovenia and sophomore Johnny Wang is a native of Beijing, China. Not only international but the Titans are spread out among the country, with student-athletes from Iowa, New York, Texas and Minnesota.
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