DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 17, 8 p.m. (pt)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Titan Gym (4,000) -- Fullerton, California. Television: None. Home Record: UC Irvine 6-1. Cal State Fullerton 5-1. Away Record: UC Irvine 2-7, Cal State Fullerton 3-5. Neutral Record: UC Irvine 1-1, Cal State Fullerton 2-0. Conference Record: UC Irvine 3-2, Cal State Fullerton 3-1. Series Record: Cal State Fullerton leads, 52-43.
GAMES NOTES: The Anteaters have been picking up steam recently after posting wins in two straight contests on the heels of a two-game slide. UC Irvine has moved back to .500 (9-9) on the season after the short winning streak and 3-2 in conference play. However both of those wins came at home, while the Anteaters have struggled on the road (2-7). This is the first of a three-game road trip for the Anteaters who will play UC Riverside and Long Beach State in the next two games.
On the other side the Titans have been on a roll as well with victories in three straight and seven of their last eight. Cal State Fullerton has now risen to 10-6 overall this season while earning a 3-1 mark against league foes after a 71-69 triumph over UC Riverside last Saturday. This is the second contest of a three-game homestand for the Titans, who are 5-1 at Titan Gym this year. The final matchup of the homestand features a battle with Long Beach State.
After being swept in the season series a year ago, UC Irvine pulled a major upset over CSF when the Anteaters dispatched the Titans in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament. Cal State Fullerton now leads the all-time series, 52-43.
In its most recent win, UC Irvine took out Cal State Northridge, 79-69. In the contest the Anteaters shot a sizzling 63.8 percent from the field including makes on 11-of-18 shots from beyond the arc. The Anteaters did allow the Matadors to hang around by turning the ball over 22 times.
UC Irvine has been a rather mediocre offensive squad in comparison to the rest of the Big West. The Anteaters rank fifth in the league in scoring (70.1 ppg) while in the sixth spot in field-goal percentage (.439). Where the Anteaters have excelled is in moving the ball and cleaning the glass. UC Irvine leads the conference and is eighth nationally in assists (17.4 pg), while second in the Big West and 19th nationally on the boards (40.6 pg). Defensively the Anteaters allow 64.1 points per game while holding teams to the 16th-lowest field goal percentage (.374) in the country. Daman Starring (13.5 ppg) is the only player on the roster scoring in double figures, while Alex Young (8.8 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Michael Wilder (7.8 ppg, 3.1 apg) are the top distributors. Adam Folker (9.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg) leads the effort on the glass.
Kwame Vaughn's jumper at the buzzer lifted Cal State Fullerton to its two- point victory over UC Riverside last Saturday. The Titans shot at just a 42.6 percent clip in the contest but used 23 turnovers from the Highlanders to score 26 points while outscoring UC Riverside 27-15 from beyond the arc.
The Titans are one of the best offensive teams not only in the Big West but in the country as a whole. Cal State Fullerton is third nationally in points per game (83.9), seventh in field-goal percentage (.503) and 23rd in assists (16.5 pg). Cal State Fullerton is fortunate enough to have the top two scorers in the conference in D.J. Seeley (19.1 ppg) and Vaughn (18.9 ppg). Seeley also leads the conference in steals (2.4 pg), while ranking fourth in assists (4.1 pg). Sammy Yeager (15.2 ppg) is another prolific scorer.
On their home floor Cal State Fullerton will be able to keep up their impressive offensive efforts and roll to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Fullerton 78, UC Irvine 68