DATE & TIME: Monday, November 12, 8:30 p.m. (pt)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Maples Pavilion (7,233) -- Palo Alto, California. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Cal State Fullerton 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Away Record: Cal State Fullerton 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Neutral Record: Cal State Fullerton 0-0, Stanford 1-0. Conference Record: Cal State Fullerton 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAMES NOTES: This matchup marks the first regular season test for Cal State Fullerton. The Titans finished with a 21-10 record overall last season and a 12-4 ledger in Big West play. This time around the Titans have their eyes set on a conference title and NCAA Tournament berth after last year's champion, Long Beach State, lost a number of key players. If the Titans want to accomplish such a feat they will more than likely have to win 20 or more games, which would give them back-to-back 20+ win seasons for only the second time in school history.
Last season's NIT champion got off on the right foot this season with Stanford posting a 74-62 win over San Francisco in a neutral site game held at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Thanks to its postseason run Stanford finished lat season with the most overall wins in the Pac-12 (26) which is impressive considering seven different teams topped 20 wins out of the conference.
Surprisingly for two teams that are housed in the same state, Stanford and Cal State Fullerton have never matched up before.
All of Cal State Fullerton's success last season can be accredited to its high-powered offense. CSF ranked 12th in the country in points per game (78.0) and 30th in field goal percentage (.472). Those marks were also the best in the Big West. First-Team All-Big West performer D.J Seeley is back in the fold. Seeley (17.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) ranked fourth in scoring last season and will be one of the cogs in the team's offensive gameplan again this season. Also back is Kwame Vaughn (15.6 ppg, 3.7 apg) who can also fill it up, but contributes passing the ball as well, after leading the conference in assists a year ago. Sammy Yeager (9.3 ppg) and Marquis Horne (8.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) were solid players of the bench last season but are penciled into the starting lineup where their minutes and, interim head coach Andy Newman will hope, production will increase.
In the first half of its season-opener with San Francisco, Stanford found itself in a tightly contested ball game. The Cardinal led 32-31 at the break after shooting 44.8 percent from the floor in the first half. The Dons hung around by outscoring the Cardinal 18-9 from the three point line. Stanford improved to an even 50 percent shooting in the second half and limited to San Francisco to 35.5 percent shooting.
One area of concern in the win was on the boards. Stanford was dominated in rebounds, managing to collected only 29 to San Francisco's 45. That could be a real issue for Stanford, which relied on controlling the boards last season ranking second in the Pac-12 (37.2 pg). That type of rebounding effort is a symptom of the departure of Josh Owens (11.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) as well as a shift to a focus on the backcourt. That is where Chasson Randle (13.8 ppg) and Aaron Bright (11.7 ppg, 3.6 ppg) excelled last season, especially in the postseason. Neither seemed to be back to that level against San Francisco with the pair combing for 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting. Bright made up for his offensive woes by handing out seven assists. Stanford got a nice surprise in the frontcourt in the game with Dwight Powell pouring in 27 points and bringing down seven rebounds. Powell started 11 games last season but was one of the first five on the floor for the Cardinal in the opener.
Aspirations are high for both teams this season. Cal State Fullerton will still play at the offensive pace it was accustomed to last season, but Stanford has the guards, assuming Randle and Bright shake off the rust, to keep up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stanford 79, Cal State Fullerton 72