Cal State Fullerton (14-16) at Cal Poly (16-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mott Gym (3,032) -- San Luis Obispo, California. Television: None. Home Record: CSF 6-7, Cal Poly 12-1. Away Record: CSF 6-9, Cal Poly 4-11. Neutral Record: CSF 2-0, Cal Poly 0-0. Conference Record: CSF 6-11, Cal Poly 11-6. Series Record: Cal Poly leads, 33-24.
GAME NOTES: The Cal Poly Mustangs will be gunning for seeding and history when they host the Cal State Fullerton Titans in a Big West Conference battle at Mott Gym on Saturday night.
Though Cal State Fullerton is guaranteed a spot in the Big West Tournament, it certainly hasn't been a contender this season. The Titans are 14-16 overall and 6-11 in league action which has them tied with UC Santa Barbara for the final two spots in the conference tournament. There are two scenarios in which the Titans would earn the higher seed. A win for them and a loss by the Gauchos does the trick. However if the teams are still tied after Saturday the Titans would need Cal Poly to finish ahead of Pacific and UC Irvine to leapfrog the Gauchos.
On Thursday night Cal Poly secured a 68-62 win over UC Riverside to set a school record for Big West victories (11-6), while also giving head coach Joe Callero his 200th career win. The Mustangs are currently in sole possession of the third slot in the Big West but with a win and a loss by Pacific on Saturday, could move into the No. 2 seed. The Mustangs would also set a program record for home victories in a season with a win on Saturday.
Although the Mustangs have been the superior team overall this season it was Cal State Fullerton that had the upper hand in the first meeting this year. The Titans ran out to a 77-60 victory at Titan Gym for their second straight win against Cal Poly, which leads the all-time series, 33-24.
In its stumble against UC Santa Barbara on Thursday the Titans managed to register just 17 field goals and shoot 35.8 percent from the floor, while hitting just 3-of-15 shots from beyond the arc. Kwame Vaughn dropped in 20 points which tied for the game-high in the 66-50 setback.
Injuries have laid waste to the Titans this season. Currently sidelined players include prolific scoring guard D.J. Seeley (17.9 ppg, 3.9 apg), who is dealing with a sprained foot and Sammy Yeager (15.8 ppg), who is trying to overcome a strained back. Luckily, Vaughn (18.2 ppg, 3.7 apg) still looks just fine as he continues to light up the scoreboard as well as just about any player in the conference, while also fitting among the top 10 players in the league in assists. Alex Harris (9.8 ppg) is the second option with Seeley and Yeager out for the Titans, who are scoring the 17th most points per game in the country this season (77.5 pg). However on defense they are surrendering 74.8 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting, which are both among the 25 worst marks in the nation.
The Mustangs didn't have it easy on Thursday night against UC Riverside as they needed a massive rally in the second half to overcome a 14-point deficit at intermission. Chris Eversley scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the final 20 minutes while the Mustangs shot 57.7 percent from the floor and hit 7-of-10 shots from the field.
Eversley (16.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.2 apg) does a bit of everything out of the frontcourt for the Mustangs. The 6-foot-7 forward's primary strengths are in scoring and rebounding which he leads Cal Poly in. Offensive options are limited after Eversley though, with Dylan Royer (10.0 ppg) the only other player averaging in double figures on the roster. With a lack of scoring firepower the Mustangs are just eighth in the 10-team Big West in both points (66.1 pg) and field-goal percentage (.428). Eversley has also been the only player to really put forth strong efforts on the glass as the Mustangs are the ninth in the Big West in rebounding (31.7 pg).
When these teams last met Cal State Fullerton was able to set the tempo at home. That was a pace that Cal Poly just couldn't keep up with. Now that the Mustangs are at home they should be able to slow things down and grind out a win against the depleted Titans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal Poly 68, Cal State Fullerton 63
03/09 10:45:06 ET