February 5, 2008

Second-Place Titans on Final 2-Game Trip

Feb. 5, 2008

Santa Barbara, Calif. -

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UPCOMING:
Thurs., Feb. 7 -- at UC Santa Barbara, Thunderdome (6,000), 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 9 -- at Cal Poly, Mott Gym (3,032), 7 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 14 -- UC Davis, Titan Gym (4,000), 7:05 p.m.

IN A NUTSHELL: The Titans (14-6, 7-2) thrust themselves into the Big West Conference championship picture with Saturday's win at previously unbeaten Cal State Northridge but now they have to protect their second-place status at two more hostile road sites this week. The Titans have gone to 8-2 in conference play only once -- in 1982-83. UC Santa Barbara (16-5, 5-3) beat CSF in Titan Gym on Jan. 12, 87-72, while erratic Cal Poly (8-12, 3-5) lost at Fullerton, 78-64, when the Titans made 14 of 30 3-point baskets.

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. Mel Franks will announce the UCSB and Cal Poly 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.

PROBABLE STARTERS: No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg r/apg Quick Notes
F 2 Scott Cutley* 6-5 Sr. 13.8 7.5r "Gutty" double-double at Northridge after 14-point, 9-rebound first half
F 34 Marcus Morgan* 6-5 Jr. 5.8 6.1r Career highs of 13 points at Arizona, 11 rebounds at Saint Mary's
G 1 Josh Akognon 6-1 Jr. 20.8 3.3r Nearing CSF single-season record for 3-pt. field goals; but 1-for-10 at CSUN
F 5 Frank Robinson** 6-4 Sr. 15.4 7.0r 3-pointer with 47 seconds left at CSUN gave Titans a 4-point lead
G 15 Junior Russell 5-6 Jr. 6.1 2.6a Scored 13 of his 16 points vs. UCR in final 5 minutes
OFF THE BENCH:
C 21 Kenneth Alexander* 6-6 Sr. 3.5 2.3r Career-high 17 pts. off the bench at Southern Utah; solid 15 minutes at CSUN
G 22 Ray Reed* 5-11 Sr. 4.2 1.1a Made second start of season vs. UC Riverside; has made 9 of last 13 FGAs
G 54 Marcus Crenshaw* 5-10 Jr. 9.6 1.9a Scored 16 points in 20 minutes vs. UC Irvine; 17 in 22 min. at Long Beach
C 42 Andrew Green* 6-6 Sr. 3.5 2.7r Grabbed 7 rebounds in 20 minutes at UC Riverside
G 11 Marcio Lassiter 6-2 Jr. 3.5 0.5a Career-high 17 points in career-high 25 minutes vs. UCR
C 13 Eddie Lima 6-9 Jr. 1.9 1.5r Has played only 8 minutes over last 15 games
*letters earned

SERIES HISTORIES: The Gauchos lead the all-time series, 33-31, including an 87-72 win in Titan Gym on Jan. 12. Fullerton has won two of the last three and three of the last five in Goleta. Titans trail the all-time series with Cal Poly, 28-19, and trail 14-10 since the Mustangs joined the conference for the 1996-97 season. Fullerton won in Titan Gym on Jan. 10, 78-64. Fullerton has won in Mott Gym on two of its last three trips including last season, 99-91, before losing at home and in Anaheim to Cal Poly.

ABOUT THE GAUCHOS: The Gauchos (16-5, 5-3) have won 4 of their last 5 games beginning with their win at Fullerton, losing only to Pacific at home. Alex Harris has regained the Big West Conference scoring lead at 20.9 ppg. Forward Ivan Elliott leads the BWC in 3-point field goal percentage at .500 (21 of 42) and is UCSB's top rebounder at 6.1 rpg, sixth in the Big West.

ABOUT THE MUSTANGS: The Mustangs (8-12, 3-5) split a road trip last week in unexpected fashion. They won at Pacific on Monday night, 69-64, for only the second time in 20 tries but then lost at UC Riverside, 62-58, on Saturday afternoon. Lorenzo Keeler has joined the starting lineup at guard and given Cal Poly a boost, averaging 8.9 ppg to trail only Trae Clark (9.1 ppg). Matt Hanson is at 8.6 ppg and Dawin Whiten is at 8.3 ppg and three others average more than 7 points in as balanced an attack as one could find. Hanson had a career high 22 points against the diminuitive Fullerton frontline back on Jan. 10.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 82-57 in his fifth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .590, Burton has again edged ahead of Bobby Dye (109-78, .583) as the winningest coach in Titan history. He is the only Fullerton coach with a winning conference record, currently at 40-33 (.548). Dye was 37-37. Burton is 6-4 against Bob Williams and UCSB, 2-2 in Goleta. Burton is 5-5 vs. Kevin Bromley and Cal Poly, 2-2 in SLO.

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 35-29 (.547) 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 38-40 (.487).

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Bob Burton, the Titans are 44-17 (.721) in Titan Gym including 7-2 this season.

LIVE AND DIE BY THE THREE: The Titans shoot .408 from behind the 3-point line. In their 14 wins they have shot .440 compared to .328 in the 6 losses. The only loss where they shot above .420 was the Wright State game (.423). They have won five times when shooting below .420 -- .407 vs. Cal State L.A., .333 vs. Montana, .381 at UC Riverside, .333 vs. UCR and, remarkably, .167 at Cal State Northridge.

IRON 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. At Northridge on Saturday he had to be helped from the floor after being knocked into the basketball support late in the first half. During the second half he had to leave the gym a couple of times due to stomach flu and scored only 5 points and had only 2 rebounds. But 4 of the points and one offensive rebound came in the final 2:45, when he also battled a leg cramp. He began the week ranked No. 2 in the Big West in rebounding at 7.5 rpg per game, No. 9 in scoring at 13.8 points per game, No. 7 in assists at 2.88 per game, No. 7 in field goal percentage at .487 and No. 3 in minutes played at 32.35 per game. He posted three consecutive double-doubles vs. Central Michigan, Southern Utah and Montana and just missed a triple-double vs. the Thunderbirds. He has scored in double figures in every start except at Saint Mary's (8 points) and vs. UC Riverside (6 points). He is 20-for-28 at the foul line over the last 5 games.

AKOGNON LIKES THE TEMPO: Josh Akognon is moving in on Cal State Fullerton's single-season record for 3-point field goals (89 by Don Leary in 1992-93) with 76 in his 19 games (4.0 per game to lead the Big West). At his current pace he would hit No. 90 in game No. 24 on Feb. 16 vs. Pacific. He has made four or more in a game 12 times with a best of seven on three occasions. 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. He began the week the Big West leader in free-throw percentage (.926 on 63 of 68) and is the No. 2 scorer at 20.8 ppg, just behind UCSB's Alex Harris at 20.9 ppg. At Saint Mary's he grabbed a career-high 9 rebounds and he had 7 at Northridge on Saturday night, when he was 10-for-10 at the line but 1-for-10 at 3-point range. He has scored 30 points or more four times. Only five other Big West players have hit 30.

ROBINSON REBOUNDS: Frank Robinson was selected Big West player of the week on Monday. Since sitting out the Dec. 17 Southern Utah game with an ankle injury, he has played consistently well. He began the week No. 5 in scoring (15.4 ppg) in the Big West Conference and No. 3 in rebounding (7.0). He's had three double-doubles -- at Central Michigan with 15 points and 10 rebounds; vs. UCI with 17 points and 10 rebounds and at CSUN with 14 points and 10 boards -- and been one rebound shy of three more. He needs only 53 more points to become the 18th Titan to score 1,000 points. (Counting his freshman year at East Carolina he already has 1,047 for his total career). In the last three games he was 12-of-18 from inside the 3-point line but only 3-for-14 outside of it.

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. He has made 11 of 14 free throws since going 0-for-5 vs. UC Irvine on Jan. 4. He has had double-digit rebound totals 3 times.

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 9.6 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 131 3-point baskets as a Titan, he has moved into the No. 7 spot on the Titans' career list. He is 2 makes away from Mark Murphy in sixth but he is still 22 shots away from the top ten in attempts. In the last six home games he is 20-for-37 (.541) from behind the arc compared to 15-for-44 (.341) over the last eight road games.

RUSSELL ERUPTS: Point guard Junior Russell has been a Jekyl-Hyde scorer this season. He has scored 9 or more points 6 times and had 3 or less on 10 occasions. Three times he has scored 16 points -- at Central Michigan, vs. Cal Poly and vs. UC Riverside on Jan. 23 when he scored 13 of them in the final five minutes. He had a season-high 5 steals vs. UCSB. He has the best 3-point field goal percentage on the team at .531 (17 of 32). In conference games he is 11-for-18 (.611).

TWO-HEADED POINT GUARD: The Titans have replaced departed point guard Bobby Brown (starring in Germany) with the tandem of Junior Russell and Marcus Crenshaw. The righthanded Russell usually starts but southpaw Crenshaw has played more minutes (21.4 to 19.8 mpg). Russell has 51 assists to 37 for Crenshaw. Combined, they are averaging 15.6 points and 4.4 assists, not far off Brown's senior year numbers of 20.2 ppg and 5.1 apg.

MARCIO = 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. He got a season-high 17 points in a season-high 25 minutes vs. UCR in the absence of Josh Akognon, making 5-of-9 shots, 3-of-6 from the arc.

TITANS LEAD IN BIG WEST ROAD WINS: CSF has 4 -- at Davis, UCR, Long Beach and CSUN; CSUN has 3 -- at UCSB, Cal Poly and UCR; UCSB has 3 -- at CSF, Cal Poly and UCR; UoP has 3 -- at Long Beach, UCSB and Davis; UCI has 1 -- at Long Beach; and Cal Poly has 1 - at UoP.

TOUGH FIELD: Cal State Fullerton will represent the Big West Conference in the 2008 Anaheim Classic on Thanksgiving Weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center. The ESPN-televised tourney will feature an even stronger field than the inaugural event of 2007 with Wake Forest, Arkansas, Providence, Arizona State, UTEP, Baylor and UNC-Charlotte signed to join the Titans.

30-POINT VICTORIES: The Titans have won three games by 30 or more points (Southern Utah, Furman and at UC Riverside) this season and nine (one on the road) in Coach Bob Burton's four-plus year tenure. By comparison, predecessors Donny Daniels had one 30-or-more-point win in three seasons, Bob Hawking had four (one on the road) in six seasons, Brad Holland had none in two seasons, John Sneed had one in four seasons, George McQuarn had 10 (one on the road) in eight seasons and Bobby Dye had seven (two on the road) in six seasons. The list of road Div. I era 30-point wins: 101-69 at Cal State Bakersfield on 1/3/76; 87-56 at Cal State Northridge on 11/27/76; 90-60 at Hawaii on 11/27/83; 89-57 at UC Irvine on 1/25/97; and 77-47 at UC Riverside on 1/7/08.

FALL SIGNEES: The Titans signed two incoming players during the November signing period -- Aaron Thompson, a 6-4, 205-pound junior wing from Cerritos College and previously of Washington High School in L.A.; and Jacques Streeter, a 6-foot, 175-pound point guard at Finley Prep School in Las Vegas and previously at Fremont High School in L.A.