Cal State Fullerton (14-15) at UC Santa Barbara (9-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 7, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Thunderdome (5,600) -- Santa Barbara, California. Television: None. Home Record: Cal State Fullerton 6-7, UCSB 6-6. Away Record: Cal State Fullerton 6-8, UCSB 3-13. Neutral Record: Cal State Fullerton 2-0, UCSB 0-0. Conference Record: Cal State Fullerton 6-10, UCSB 5-11. Series Record: UCSB leads, 39-36.
GAMES NOTES: After securing its place in the Big West Conference Tournament the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos will try to pick up some steam when they host the Cal State Fullerton Titans in a conference battle at the Thunderdome.
The Titans have also secured a spot in the eight-team conference tournament although they have dropped their last two games. Cal State Fullerton is just a game under .500 (14-15) but is sporting a record of just 6-10 in league action which is enough for a spot in the conference tournament but only seventh in the league standings. The Titans finish the season on Saturday at Cal Poly.
Not only did UCSB put an end to a four-game losing streak with an 83-74 win over Cal State Northridge on Saturday but it also grabbed the eighth and final spot in the Big West Tournament. The Gauchos are still just 9-19 overall on the campaign but its 5-11 mark in league action is enough to guarantee a spot in the eight-team postseason tourney. UCSB battles UC Riverside in the season finale.
Cal State Fullerton won in an 86-79 shootout at the end of December in the first meeting between these teams this season. The Gauchos now lead the all- time series, 39-36, though they have dropped the last two meetings.
The Titans were locked in a tight battle with UC Davis on Saturday but they fell short in a 71-68 decision. The game was a historic one of Kwame Vaughn who poured in a game-high 29 points to become the 22nd player in school history to score 1,000 points in his career.
Though they have not been able to translate it into more wins, the Titans have been one of the best offensive teams in the country this season. They rank eighth nationally in scoring (78.4 ppg), while ranking in the top 25 in field goal percentage (.472). However, the high-octane rate at which the Titans play has also been their weakness as they allow teams to score 75.1 points per game on 47.6 percent shooting. Vaughn (18.2 ppg, 3.8 apg) and D.J. Seeley (17.9 ppg, 3.9 apg) have been a powerful scoring tandem but Seeley is questionable with a sprained foot in this game. Sammy Yeager (15.8 ppg) was another strong scorer but he has been out since mid-February with a strained back.
UCSB really woke up in the second half to rally past Cal State Northridge. The Gauchos shot 60 percent in the final 20 minutes to rally from a slim halftime deficit. Alan Williams was sensational in the contest as he poured in 32 points to go with 16 rebounds.
Williams (17.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg) also had three blocks in the win as he continues to be one of the best frontcourt performers in the Big West. The 6- foot-7 forward leads the league in rebounds, while ranking in the top five in points and blocks. Williams' double-double against Cal State Northridge was his 13th of the season. Kyle Boswell (13.4 ppg) and Taran Brown (11.1 ppg) provide additional scoring support though Brown has shot an inefficient 36.1 percent from the floor. The Gauchos are the second worst scoring team in the conference ranking ninth in the Big West in points scored (64.8 pg) and field-goal percentage (.420).
Led by Williams, who has turned in a performance worthy of a first-team selection in the Big West, the Gauchos should be able to blow past the hobbled Titans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Santa Barbara 75, Cal State Fullerton 69
03/07 10:34:43 ET