DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7th, 7:00 p.m. (pt)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thunderdome (6,000) -- Santa Barbara, California. Television: None. Home Record: Fullerton 7-2, UCSB 8-2. Away Record: Fullerton 6-4, UCSB 6-3. Neutral Record: Fullerton 1-0, UCSB 2-0. Conference Record: Fullerton 7-2, UCSB 5-3. Series Record: UC Santa Barbara leads, 33-31.
GAME NOTES: Streaking towards the top of the Big West Conference standings, the Cal State Fullerton Titans go in search of their fifth straight win tonight as they face off against league foe UC Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome. Last Saturday, the Titans posted an 80-72 win over Cal State Northridge to move to 7-2 in conference play, which means they trail only the Matadors in the standings at the moment. As for the Gauchos, they've been playing well of late as well with two straight victories and four in the last five overall. The most recent outing for the squad took place just over a week ago when it dismissed UC Riverside with a 64-53 decision on the road to push its league mark to 5-3. UCSB entered this season clinging to a slim 32-31 lead in the all-time series with the Titans and managed to gain a little wiggle room in the first meeting of the season back on January 12th with an 87-72 victory on the road.
Scott Cutley came dangerously close to a triple-double last Saturday night with 19 points and 11 rebounds on the positive side, but he also had seven of the team's 22 turnovers. Frank Robinson also logged a double-double for the group with his 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Josh Akognon came away with 17 points, but only after shooting a perfect 10-of-10 at the free-throw line to make up for 3-of-15 from the field and 1-of-10 accuracy beyond the arc. Even with that poor shooting effort, Akognon is still knocking down an impressive 40.4 percent behind the three-point line and 63-of-68 at the stripe, en route to 20.8 ppg for the season. Robinson and Cutley follow with 15.4 and 13.8 ppg, respectively, for a program tapping into a robust 82.6 ppg, while permitting opponents an average of 73.7 ppg.
The Gauchos went from shooting 43.5 percent from the field in the first half against UC Riverside, to a sizzling 60 percent after the break en route to the easy road win. James Powell dropped in a game-high 25 points as he made 6-of-9 shots out on the perimeter, followed by Alex Harris and Ivan Elliott with 19 and 10 points, respectively, the latter also clearing eight rebounds along the way. Harris continues to be one of the top scorers in the Big West with his 20.9 ppg, thanks to a stellar 49.5 percent shooting effort behind the three- point line which is actually better than his overall accuracy from the floor which currently stands at 45.4 percent. Chris Devine is responsible for 13.0 ppg and 5.3 rpg, followed by Powell and his 12.0 ppg. The team as a whole is making an incredible 42.5 percent from behind the three-point line, yet the defense for the squad is keeping the opposition to a mere 29.8 percent accuracy out on the perimeter.
Although UCSB won the first meeting of the season between these squads, this is a different Titans group that is putting up stronger numbers of late. Expect to see Cutley and company give the Gauchos a run for their money tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Santa Barbara 81, Cal State Fullerton 76