FULLERTON, Calif. - The Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team begins the Big West Tournament against the UC Davis Aggies on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
FROM THE TIP
• The Titans begin the quest to defend their Big West Tournament title on Thursday against UC Davis, marking the third straight year they have faced in the Aggies in the postseason tournament.
• Senior guard Kyle Allman, Jr., the Big West Player of the Week on Jan. 21 and a First-Team All-Big West honoree for the second straight year, is tops on the team and fourth in the league in points per game at 17.8. He's second on the squad in assists and tied a career-high against Wake Forest (Nov. 16) with eight helpers. Of his 61 assists on the year, 19 of them have been to Jackson Rowe. The Brooklyn native has scored has scored 10+ in 46 of his last 49 games. Allman has scored 30+ eight times over the course of this season and last season. He has scored 20+ in seven of the last 12 games and 10 times total this season.
• Senior guard Khalil Ahmad, the Nov. 19 Big West Player of the Week and a Second-Team All-Big West honoree for the second straight year, is second on the team and fifth in the Big West in scoring at 17.8 points per game. He's also second in the league in steals per game at 1.6. For the year, he's scored 20+ 11 times and he's scored 10+ in 17 of the last 19.
• 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 1,682 points in his career, the fourth-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 1,619 points for his career, No. 5 all-time. Jackson Rowe is just 15 points away from becoming the 26th Titan to eclipse 1,000-career points.
• Junior forward Jackson Rowe, the two-time Big West Player of the Week this season (Jan. 7, 28) Big West Honorable Mention recipient for the second straight year, has been doing a bit of everything on the floor this year for the Titans. He is averaging 11.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.86 blocks per game. He leads the team in both rebounds and blocks and is third in assists. He's shooting an impressive 55.5% (131-236) from the field this year, the No. 3 mark in the league. The Toronto native has posted six double-doubles on the year and is averaging 8.7 rebounds per game in league play. He moved into fifth all-time in career rebounds with 636, just passing Cedric Ceballos and right behind Pape Sow, both former Titans that played in the NBA.
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.
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.
SATURDAY, MARCH 2 AT UC DAVIS || 7 PM PT
Series Record: 19-15
Home Record: 11-5
Away Record: 7-8
Neutral Record: 1-2
Current Streak: L1
First Meeting: 12/21/61 vs. UC Davis, W, 85-56
Last Meeting: 03/02/19 vs. UC Davis, L, 66-59
UC DAVIS NOTES
The Aggies enter the postseason with an overall record of 11-19 and they went 7-9 in league play to earn the No. 6 seed in the league tournament. TJ Shorts II, the reigning Big West Player of the Year, leads the team in scoring at 14.7 points, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
The Titans beat the Aggies in the 2018 Big West Tournament semifinals but lost to them in the same round in 2017. The only other matchup between the two teams in the conference tournament came in 2010 when UC Davis won 68-65 in the quarterfinal round. Each of the three matchups were one-possession games when the final buzzer sounded as the Aggies won by three in 2010 and two in 2017 while the Titans won by three in 2018.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
For CSF, junior guard Austen Awosika is fourth on the team in scoring (8.0 points per game), first in assists (116 total, 3.86 per game), second in blocks (16 total), second in steals (1.33 per game) and second in rebounding (4.9 per game). He led the team in the category last year and is tops on the team again this year in assist percentage (an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals assisted while on the floor) at 23.8%. He has the fourth-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league at 1.8. He dished out a career-high 11 assists at UCR on Feb. 9 and has recorded two double-doubles this season.
Per KenPom, the Titans have the No. 16 ranked non-conference schedule in the country. The squad played just four non-conference home games.
A NEW SEASON
The Titans have been a different team thus far in Big West Conference play. The team is shooting 46.1% from the field, and has shot better than 50% in seven of those games while holding the opponents to a collective 42.4% shooting.
Fullerton has averaged 16.3 made free throws during league play while the opponents have made just 12.9 per game.
50 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
Dating back to last season, the Titans are undefeated when shooting 50% or better from the field. In a sense, that isn't all that surprising since teams usually win when they shoot the ball well. However, the Titans are 7-0 this year and were 14-0 last year when eclipsing the 50% mark, and that feels impressive.
UPDATING THE RECORD BOOKS
In addition to Khalil Ahmad and Kyle Allman, Jr. climbing the rankings of all-time points as a Titan, the duo added their names to the list of individual scoring performances in a single game this season. Ahmad scored 40 points against Monmouth (Nov. 18) and had a historic day, setting career highs in points (40), field goals made (13, on just 22 shots) and three-point field goals made (8). He is just the fifth Titan to ever score 40 points or more in a game, joining Bobby Brown, Tre' Coggins, Josh Akognon and Kyle Allman, Jr. Ahmad's 40 points was the highest point total ever in a men's basketball game at the HTC Center, breaking the previous record of 36 set by Quinton Wood on Dec. 13, 2013.
Allman scored 38 points at Hofstra (Nov. 21), tied for the seventh-best scoring performance in a single game in program history and just two points off his career-high. He knocked down a career-high eight three-point field goals, improving on his previous best of five. Allman now has four of the top 30 scoring performances in CSF history while Ahmad has two.
Allman has played the most games in a Titan uniform in program history. He just broke Gary Davis' record of 121 and now sits at 122. Ahmad is eighth at 112 games played.
Jackson Rowe is fifth all-time in career rebounds with 636, just ahead of CSF legend Cedric Ceballos with 618. He's also 15 points away from becoming the 26th Titan to score 1,000 career points.
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 as he showed against West Coast Baptist when he scored 23 points to lead all scorers, including four three-point field goals. He has played in all of the games this season and is averaging 3.2 points and 12.4 minutes per game.
Kuljuhovic has the size to work down low but can also stretch the defense with his jump shot. He is averaging 2.5 points and 23 rebounds in 9.1 minutes per game. He scored 7 points and hauled in 7 rebounds at San Francisco (Dec. 16).
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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