Titans Get TV Time Trying for Big West Road Wins

Jan. 5, 2009

San Luis Obispo, Calif. -

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UPCOMING:
Thur., Jan. 8 -- at Cal Poly SLO, Mott Gym (3,032), 8 p.m. ESPNU-TV
Sat., Jan. 10 -- at UC Santa Barbara, The Thunderdome (6,000), 7 p.m. FSN Prime Ticket TV
Thur., Jan. 15 -- UC Davis, Titan Gym (4,000), 7:05 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 17 -- Pacific, Titan Gym (4,000), 8:05 p.m. -- ESPN2 TV

IN A NUTSHELL: The Titans (6-8, 0-2) travel to the Central Coast still looking for their first Big West Conference victory after two contrasting losses last week. Fullerton got blown out at home by Cal State Northridge (90-64) and then lost in overtime at UC Irvine (78-74) in a game it appeared it was going to pull out in regulation after rallying from 11 points down with 12 minutes to play. Fullerton, Cal Poly (3-9, 0-2) and UCSB (6-8, 0-2) are the only winless teams in the early Big West standings.

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 call the game at UCSB and Mel Franks will handle the game at Cal Poly.

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.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg r/apg Quick Notes
G 1 Josh Akognon* 6-1 Sr. 23.5 3.4r Averaging only 10 points in Big West games, fifth on squad
G 22 Jacques Streeter 6-0 Fr. 10.4 4.4a 12 for 19 from 3-point land last three games, averaging 19.3 points
F 42 Papa Guisse 6-8 Jr. 4.8 5.6r Leads Big West with 1.9 blocked shots per game
F 24 Gerard Anderson 6-6 Jr. 10.5 6.0r Missed almost two full games with ankle injury in first minute vs. CMU
G 11 Marcio Lassiter* 6-2 Sr. 9.2 2.6r Only 8-for-38 (.211) from 3-point line since 3-for-3 effort vs. Charlotte

OFF THE BENCH:
G 0 Aaron Thompson 6-4 Jr. 9.1 3.9r Averaging 15.0 points in Big West games
F 43 Ray Miller 6-8 Jr. 4.3 3.2r Leads team with .634 field-goal percentage
G 14 Ameer Shamsud-din 6-2 Fr. 0.9 1.1a Scored first points on Mainland with deuce vs. CSU Bakersfield
F 21 Chris Rhymes 6-4 Jr. 4.5 1.9r Scored 10 points in first half vs. Charlotte on 4-for-4 shooting
C 55 Adam Thomas 7-2 Jr. 1.0 0.8r 4 points on 2-for-2 shooting at Montana State
F 5 Regan Andersen 6-7 Jr. 1.3 1.5r Well-traveled Milwaukee native; walk-on transfer from Oxnard College
G 44 Kwasi Mensah 6-3 Fr. 0.0 0.0a Walk-on from Rancho Cucamonga HS
*letters earned

EASY FOR ME TO SAY: Josh ah-KOY-uhn &\#149; POP gee-SAY &\#149; Ameer shahm-suh-DEEN &\#149; zyah-KEESE Streeter &\#149; KWAH-zee Mensah &\#149; REE-guhn Andersen

SERIES HISTORIES: The Titans swept last season's series with Cal Poly but still trail the all-time series, 28-20. Fullerton has won two years in a row and three of the last four in Mott Gym. Since Cal Poly went to Div. I, the series stands 14-11 in favor of the Mustangs. The Titans trail the Gauchos in the all-time series, 34-31, after losing both meetings last year. The Titans had won six of the prevsious seven meetings after UCSB had a 11-1 run over six seasons. Fullerton is 10-19 in the Events Center... aka The Thunderdome.

ABOUT THE MUSTANGS: Cal Poly lost at UC Riverside (91-57) and Long Beach State (70-57) last week. The Mustangs are led by center Titus Shelton (12.7 ppg, 4. 9 rpg) and are shooting only .390 from the floor while getting outrebounded by 8 per game.

ABOUT THE GAUCHOS: UCSB lost last week at Long Beach (76-64) and at UCR (71-69) when James Powell's 3-pointer came after the final buzzer. They are 3-2 at home, losing to North Carolina and Utah State. Chris Devine leads the way at 14.9 ppg and 5.7 rpg with Powell at 11.1 ppg and Jesse Byrd at 7.6 rpg.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 98-68 in his sixth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .590, Burton is the winningest coach in Titan history. Alex Omalev, who passed away on Nov. 10 at the age of 88, has the most total victories (139-176) followed by George McQuarn (122-117). Bobby Dye is second in winning percentage at .583 (109-78). Burton is 6-5 vs. Coach Kevin Bromley and 6-5 against Coach Bob Williams.

ROAD WARRIORS: Under Bob Burton, the Titans have made dramatic strides as a road team. In the past four seasons plus this year, they are 43-38 (.531) away from Titan Gym (includes 10-9 on neutral floors). 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 46-49 (.484).

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE "D'?: Through the first 11 games of the season, the Titans were leading the Big West Conference in field-goal percentage defense at .413 and they were allowing only .306 from the 3-point line. But in the past three games, Montana State (.550), Cal State Northridge (.596) and UC Irvine (.415) have combined to shoot .516 overall (94 of 182) and a more damaging .469 from behind the arc (30 of 64).

LOSING BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: Not surprisingly, given the heights on the roster and the quality of the competition, rebounding has been a problem for the Titans in 2008-09... Although outrebounded by only about 4.5 per game, the Titans have had some glaring disparities and have given up 15.5 offensive rebounds per game... Three of the four worst rebounding disparities of the Bob Burton Era have occurred this season -- minus 29 (56 vs. 27) at LSU, minus 22 (54 vs. 32) vs. Saint Mary's and minus 18 (37 vs. 19) in a win at home over Montana State... the other game in that neighborhood was minus 23 (50 vs. 27) vs. Wisconsin in last year's NCAA Tournament... Saint Mary's grabbed 26 offensive rebounds and both LSU and Central Michigan got 20... only one other team (Cal State Northridge with 21 on Feb. 10, 2007) has collected 20 or more offensive rebounds against a Burton team at CSF.

PLAYER UPDATES:
Guard Josh Akognon was third in the nation in scoring (at 25.5 ppg) in games through Dec. 21, trailing only Davidson's Stephen Curry (30.0) and Chicago State's David Holston (26.4)... But in two Big West Conference games he is averaging only 10 points, fifth best on the squad... Cal State Northridge held him to 8 points primarily by denying him the ball and then getting him to take forced shots the few times he saw it (3-for-13, 2-for-6 from the arc) ... He even missed his only free-throw attempt... UCI face-guarded him all over the floor and he made only 3 of 11 shots (1 of 6 treys) on his way to 12 points, 5 (of 6) of those from the foul line... It's only the second time in his Titan career he has been under 30 percent shooting in back-to-back games (Feb. 2, 2008, at CSUN - .200 on 3 of 15 and Feb. 7, 2008, at UCSB - .222 on 2 of 9)... He has posted the second and third highest scoring games by a Div. I Titan with a pair of 41-point efforts this season at Hawaii and vs. Cal State Bakersfield... Each time he was selected Big West Conference Player of the Week... Only Bobby Brown's (currently of the Sacramento Kings) 47-point effort vs. Bethune Cookman on Dec. 16, 2006, is better... Akognon now has two of the top 20 scoring games in conference history... Only three other players (Raymond Lewis of Cal State L.A., Ed Ratleff of Long Beach State and Scott Brooks of UC Irvine) have scored 41 or more points more than once.

Akognon has been a typical streak shooter... He had 4 points (2-of-7 overall, 0-for-3 treys) in the first half vs. Montana State on Dec. 22 but got 25 points (7-of-12, 7-of-11) in the second half... Six of the treys came in a span of 6:23 during which CSF went from a 35-35 tie to a 62-47 lead (27-12 run)... Seven made treys in a game matched his career high (fifth time, but first time all in one half)... He bounced back from a poor shooting night (6-of-23, 3-of-14) at Montana State to make 10-of-20, (6-of-11 treys) vs. Cal State Bakersfield... Akognon made the all-tournament team in Hawai'i and was one vote shy of making the 6-man All-76 Classic squad in Anaheim... Through 12 games he was averaging 20.0 shots per game including 11.7 3-point tries but in the Big West he has averaged only 12 shots and only 6 treys... He set a Stan Sheriff Center record in Honolulu with 41 points in the win over Hawaii, making 12 of 29 shots including 7 of 18 3-pointers... In 46 career games, Akognon already has moved into the No. 4 spot on the CSF career 3-point field goal list with 171 (Chris St. Clair is No. 3 at 185)... He's also No. 4 in attempts with 447 (St. Clair is No. 3 with 511)... With 976 points, he is 24 shy of becoming the 19th Titan to score 1,000... He has made at least one 3-pointer in his last 26 games and has been blanked only twice as a Titan... Akognon is a nominee for the Bob Cousy Award to the nation's top point guard.

Forward Gerard Anderson missed only the Montana State game due to an ankle sprained in the opening minute vs. Central Michigan on Dec. 6... Other than a lack of conditioning, he appeared healthy against Bakersfield, making all six of his shots on his way to 15 points including a spectacular dunk off a lob pass from Josh Akognon on a fast break... He had a tomahawk breakaway dunk vs. Montana State on Dec. 22 that brought down the house... He scored the Titans' first point of the season (3:27 into the Texas State game) but didn't score again until the second half, when he erupted for 14 points in a span of less than 5 minutes on his way to a 20-point half... At Portland State he had 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds but missed a game-winning shot at the buzzer... He had 10 rebounds in the first half and 12 total against a still unbeaten Wake Forest team that started three players 6-foot-9 or better.

Point guard Jacques Streeter suddenly has turned into a potent 3-point field goal shooter and scorer, thanks in part to the opposition's focus on Josh Akognon... Streeter has averaged 19.3 points over the last three games while making 12 of 19 (.632) 3-pointers, bringing his season's 3-point percentage to a sparkling .548 (school record is .443 by Don Leary in 1992-93)... Streeter scored a season-high 23 points on Dec. 22 vs. Montana State, making 5-of-8 treys, and matched that point total vs. UCI on Saturday night (3 of 5 treys)... He has handled the ball extremely well for a freshman with only 37 turnovers vs. 62 assists and has been among the Big West leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio, currently at 1.68... He has shown the potential for a triple double -- scoring in double figures 8 times, getting 12 assists in one game and grabbing as many as 9 rebounds.

Guard Aaron Thompson is another benefactor of the Big West opposition's focus on Josh Akognon... He has averaged 15 points over the last two games after averaging only 8.1 through 12 games... He had a 14-point effort to lead the team vs. Cal State Northridge (and added a season-high 9 rebounds) and had 16 points at UC Irvine including a trey to tie the game at 71 in overtime... He had a season-high 18-point effort at Montana State where he went 7-for-10 from the floor and added 6 steals, the best mark in the Big West this season... He leads the team in trips to the hospital -- suffering a head laceration in practice in Portland on Nov. 22 and a concussion and possible broken nose on Dec. 22 vs. Montana State.

Guard Marcio Lassiter made a quick return from a knee that was bruised severely on Nov. 22 in Portland (see Thompson injuries), causing him to miss the Portland State game and the first half vs. Wake Forest... He got 8 points in the second half vs. the Demon Deacons and totaled a combined 20 vs. Saint Mary's and Charlotte back in a starting role... He matched his career high by making three treys vs. Charlotte, in only three tries including a back-breaker in overtime... But he is only 8-for-38 (.211) from behind the stripe over the past seven games and 4 for 16 in the Big West games... He missed the first free throw of his CAREER in the second half vs. Central Michigan, snapping a string of 28 in a row including all 18 last season... He missed one of six vs. Bakersfield and two of three vs. CSUN and is now 39-for-43 (.907) for his career.

Forward Papa Guisse had his best game of the season vs. Charlotte with 8 points and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes of play... He blocked 5 shots vs. both Saint Mary's and Central Michigan and on the season has almost half (26 of 55) of the team's total of rejections to lead the Big West at 1.9 per game... He grabbed 8 rebounds at LSU and 8 more at UC Irvine... He is shooting .481 from the floor.

Forward Chris Rhymes made a delayed debut on Nov. 20 vs. Hope, finally cleared after rehabbing since his March knee surgery... He scored 12 points in 17 minutes... He is still rounding into shape but was a catalyst vs. Charlotte, coming off the bench to hit 4-of-4 shots including a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-point first-half effort that rallied Fullerton from an early 8-point deficit... He played a season high of 22 minutes vs. CMU after Gerard Anderson's early departure to injury and took over his starting role in Bozeman... He has averaged only 6 minutes over the last 3 games and did not play at all at UC Irvine.