January 2, 2008

Titans Open Big West Play Friday Night

Jan. 2, 2008

Fullerton, Calif. -

UPCOMING:
Fri., Jan. 4 -- UC Irvine, Titan Gym (4,000), 7:05 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 7 -- at UC Riverside, Student Recreation Center, (3,168), Riverside, 7 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 10 -- Cal Poly SLO, Titan Gym (4,000), 7:05 p.m. (KVMD-TV)
Sat., Jan. 12 -- UC Santa Barbara, Titan Gym (4,000), 6:05 p.m.

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IN A NUTSHELL: Ready or not, the Titans open Big West Conference play with four games -- three at home -- in a span of nine days. They carry a 7-4 record after a split at the Shamrock Office Solutions Tournament at Saint Mary's between Christmas and New Year's Day.

AUDIO: All Titan games can be heard live on the internet on computers with sound cards. Listeners may access the CSF Athletics home page at www.fullertontitans.com and follow the links. Mike Martinez will be the announcer vs. UC Irvine, Mel Franks will do the game at UC Riverside and Justin Alderson will describe the Cal Poly and UCSB contests.

VIDEO: All Titan home games and road Big West Conference games are available via videostreaming on a subscription basis. Details are available on the Big West website at www.bigwest.org. The Cal Poly game will be aired live on KVMD television.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg r/apg Quick Notes
F 2 Scott Cutley* 6-5 Sr. 14.0 7.1r Just missed triple double vs. SUU w/15 points, 10 boards, 8 assists
F 34 Marcus Morgan* 6-5 Jr. 5.4 5.9r Career highs of 13 points at Arizona, 11 rebounds at Saint Mary's
G 1 Josh Akognon 6-1 Jr. 19.8 3.4r Leads Big West in 3-point field goals and free-throw percentage; No. 2 scorer
F 5 Frank Robinson** 6-4 Sr. 16.7 6.0r Averaged 25 points in two games vs. Montana
G 15 Junior Russell 5-6 Jr. 4.6 2.7a Scored 16 points off the bench at Central Michigan
OFF THE BENCH:
C 21 Kenneth Alexander* 6-6 Sr. 4.9 2.4r Career-high 17 pts. off the bench at Southern Utah
G 22 Ray Reed* 5-11 Sr. 4.1 1.1a Season-high 11 points vs. Southern Utah
G 54 Marcus Crenshaw* 5-10 Jr. 10.5 2.7a Only 12 for 34 (.353) from the floor over last three games
C 42 Andrew Green* 6-6 Sr. 4.4 2.9r Made first Titan career start vs. Cal State L.A.
G 11 Marcio Lassiter 6-2 Jr. 3.5 0.7a Career-high 11 points in 10 minutes vs. Furman
C 13 Eddie Lima 6-9 Jr. 2.5 1.7r Made 3 of 4 shots vs. CSU Bakersfield; slowed by knee injury
*letters earned

SERIES HISTORIES: The Titans lead the all-time series with Orange County rival UC Irvine, 44-39, after sweeping last year's series for the first time since 1998-99. The teams have split the last 10 meetings with the home team winning three of five. The Titans lead the all-time series with UC Riverside by a 15-14 margin. The teams have split the last four meetings with a pair of splits at each venue.

ABOUT THE ANTEATERS: UC Irvine (5-8) is coming off an 80-77 overtime win at Harvard in which the Anteaters rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit. They also have given up some second-half leads in losses at Utah and South Carolina. Center Darren Fells, the current Big West player of the week, leads the team in scoring at 14.3 ppg and is the No. 3 rebounder at 4.6 rpg. Patrick Sanders is No. 2 in scoring (13.7 ppg) and rebounding (4.9), where Kevin Bland (5.9 rpg) is the leader.

ABOUT THE HIGHLANDERS: UC Riverside takes a 3-8 record for new Head Coach Jim Wooldridge into its Big West opener at Pacific on Thursday night. The Highlanders also play Saturday at UC Davis before hosting Fullerton.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 75-55 in his fifth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .577, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583).

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Coach Bob Burton, the Titans are 41-16 (.719) in Titan Gym.

THESE 30 ROAD WINS MUCH QUICKER: Under Bob Burton, the Titans have made dramatic strides as a road team. In the past three seasons plus this season to date, they are 31-28 (.525) away from Titan Gym. For the previous 10 seasons (1994-95 thru 2003-04) the combined road record was 30-115 (.207). With a 3-11 mark in his first season (2003-04), Burton's total CSF road record is 34-39 (.466).

PRE-CONFERENCE REVIEW: In Coach Bob Burton's tenure, the Titans have taken records of: 4-5 in 2003-04; 4-3 in 2004-05; 6-3 in 2005-06; and 9-2 in 2006-07 into Big West Conference play prior to this year's 7-4 mark. The Burton-coached Titans have opened, in order, with a home loss to Cal State Northridge, an overtime win at CSUN, a home loss to Cal Poly and a road win at Cal Poly. The last time they opened against UC Irvine was a 74-68 win at UCI on Jan. 3, 1995, under Coach Bob Hawking.

HEALING MAN CUTLEY: The Titans' returning first-team All-Big West Conference senior forward Scott Cutley returned to the practice floor during Thanksgiving weekend, came off the bench at Arizona and started at Montana, six weeks after suffering a fractured right ankle. Last season he missed only one game despite a broken thumb. He led the team with 9 rebounds against Montana and posted three consecutive double-doubles to bring his two-season CSF total to 14. He narrowly missed CSF's second triple-double (Ralphy Holmes: 14 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists on March 5, 2005 vs. CSUN) with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in the Dec. 17 win over Southern Utah. On Dec. 20 vs. Montana, after a slow start (4 points on 2 of 8 shooting in the first half), he finished strong and scored 7 of his 19 points in overtime on 3-for-3 shooting. He fouled out of the Wright State game with 4:07 to play and the score tied at 69-69.

AKOGNON LIKES THE TEMPO: Josh Akognon is already halfway toward breaking the Cal State Fullerton single-season record for 3-point field goals (89 by Don Leary in 1992-93). With 45 treys in 11 games, he is averaging 4.09 per game and would hit No. 90 in game No. 22 on Feb. 9 at Cal Poly. He has made four or more in a game seven times. The Washington State transfer led the Cougars in scoring in 2005-06 and made just under two treys per game while averaging 10.3 points. This year he is among the Big West leaders in scoring (2nd at 19.8 ppg), 3-point field goals (1st at 4.09 per game) and free-throw percentage (1st at .931 on 27 of 29). At Saint Mary's he grabbed a career-high 9 rebounds.

ROBINSON REBOUNDS: Frank Robinson sat out the Dec. 17 Southern Utah game with an ankle injury but has played well since returning. He scored 16 of his game-high 20 points before intermission on 6-for-9 shooting vs Montana and had 22 points and 5 rebounds vs. Wright State. At the Saint Mary's tournament he averaged 15 points and 5.5 rebounds. He ranks No. 4 in scoring, No. 6 in rebounding, No. 7 in steals and No. 8 in 3-point field-goal percentage and 3-pointers made in the Big West thru games of Jan. 1. He bounced back from one of his worst games as a Titan at Arizona to score a career-high 30 points at Montana to go with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. He was 1-for-7 from the floor in Tucson and 11-for-16 in Missoula. He had a double-double at Central Michigan with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

CRENSHAW SPARK PLUG: Junior guard Marcus Crenshaw, the Big West Conference's Sixth Man of the Year in 2006-07, continues to provide an offensive spark off the bench, ranking as the Titans' No. 4 scorer at 10.5 points per game. He started at Montana (and Central Michigan) after 31 consecutive appearances off the bench. He also started his first three games as a Titan in November of 2006 when the roster was short three suspended players. With 111 3-point baskets as a Titan, he is 3 away from moving into the career Top Ten (Kenroy Jarrett, 114 in 1995-96 thru 1999-2000). Crenshaw is 65 attempts away from that Top Ten. On the last homestand, he was 11-for-22 from behind the arc in three games but then hit only 3 of 12 in the Saint Mary's tournament.

MORGAN SHINES IN TOUGHEST SPOTS: Marcus Morgan has had his best statistical games against the tougher opponents this season. At Arizona he scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds while playing solid defense. At Saint Mary's he had another strong defensive game and had 7 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. His biggest play of the year was blocking the potential game-winning layup by Montana's Andrew Strait with one second left in regulation on Dec. 20.

RUSSELL STUNNED: Point guard Junior Russell missed most of the second half vs. Furman with a head injury but returned to play the next night at Saint Mary's. After averaging 12.5 points in games at Central Michigan and vs. Southern Utah, he has scored only 13 points in the last four games combined.

INSTANT OFFENSE: Like Marcus Crenshaw, Marcio Lassiter has provided an offensive spark off the bench. The transfer from San Francisco City College scored 9 points in 11 minutes at Montana, 8 points in 19 minutes vs. Montana and 11 points in 10 minutes vs. Furman.

SURVEY SAYS: Cal State Fullerton was a consensus third-place prediction at the annual Big West Conference Basketball Media Day on Oct. 24 behind UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly SLO. The Titans were third in the media poll and tied for third with Pacific in the coaches poll.