DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 11:05 p.m. (pt)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Titan Gym (4,000) -- Fullerton, California. Television: None. Home Record: Pacific 11-2, CSF 6-5. Away Record: Pacific 2-9, CSF 6-8. Neutral Record: Pacific 2-1, CSF 2-0. Conference Record: Pacific 9-5, CSF 6-8. Series Record: Pacific leads, 47-37.
GAME NOTES: The Tigers will also be looking to complete the season sweep of the Titans after downing Cal State Fullerton, 71-67, on Jan. 26 in the first matchup of the season between these teams. The win gave Pacific a 47-37 all-time series lead.
Pacific is coming off a 67-62 loss at Western Michigan in a contest that served as part of the BracketBuster event. The loss to the Broncos lessened it to a 15-12 overall record. The Tigers are one of the top teams in the Big West standings and enter Thursday in second place, 3.5 games behind the first-place Long Beach State 49ers. Coach Bob Thomason uses an 11-man rotation that allows his team to stay aggressive for the full 40 minutes. Lorenzo McCloud is pacing the squad with 11.6 points and 4.0 assists per tilt.
McCloud netted 15 points in Pacific's setback to WMU over the weekend, while Tony Gill came off the bench to lead the team in scoring for the second game in a row with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. The starting five went just 14-of-41 from the field to contribute to the team's 36.7 percent field goal efficiency in the contest. The Broncos meanwhile, converted 48.0 percent of their field-goal tries, including 8-of-20 from beyond the arc to coast past the Tigers. Pacific has the seventh most productive offensive in the 10-team Big West with a scoring average of 67.8 ppg, but it is third in the league on the defensive end with only 64.7 points allowed per tilt.
Fullerton climbed back over the .500 mark on Saturday with a 63-57 decision over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on the road in a contest that was also part of the BracketBuster weekend. The Titans were led by an 18-point and six-rebound performance by Kwame Vaughn. The team's second straight win came after the Titans lost their previous two games and seven of their last nine to ruin a promising start to the 2012-13 campaign. Vaughn is the second leading scorer for Fullerton despite netting a respectable average of 17.9 ppg on 45.4 percent shooting from the field. D.J. Seeley is just ahead of him in the scoring column with 18.3 ppg, but they both deal out 3.9 assists per tilt.
The Titans went into halftime of their bout with the Highlanders trailing by a point, but Vaughn scored all of his points after the break to spearhead a strong effort in the second stanza. They finished holding a 19-9 edge in points from the free-throw line and a 15-8 advantage in points off turnovers at the conclusion of the contest. Sammy Yeager (15.8 ppg) and Alex Harris (9.5 ppg, 1.7 spg) have both made solid contributions on the offensive end to help the Titans net a Big West leading average of 79.7 ppg, which is also the fifth highest mark nationally. Fullerton is nowhere near as adept on the defensive end, where it allows 75.7 ppg, which is the most among Big West schools.
This matchup was closely contested in round one and there is nothing to indicate anything will change this time. Pacific's tough approach to the defensive end is going to help, but it might not be enough to get the job done on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Fullerton 73, Pacific 70