Cal State Fullerton (8-16) at Cal Poly (9-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 20, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mott Gym (3,032) -- San Luis Obispo, California. Television: None. Home Record: Fullerton 6-5, Cal Poly 5-4. Away Record: Fullerton 2-10, Cal Poly 3-10. Neutral Record: Fullerton 0-1, Cal Poly 1-1. Conference Record: Fullerton 3-7, Cal Poly 5-6. Series Record: Cal Poly leads, 33-26.
GAME NOTES: The Cal Poly Mustangs will open up a two-game homestand at Mott Gym on Thursday night when they welcome the Cal State Fullerton Titans to San Luis Obispo for a Big West Conference clash.
Fullerton has struggled all season long, as it is just 8-16 overall with a 3-7 mark in the Big West. The Titans are currently losers of four of their last five bouts, most recently dropping an 83-80 decision at home to Hawaii last Saturday, and now they head back out on the road, where they've gone a dreadful 2-10.
Cal Poly has struggled as well this season, although it has been slightly better than Fullerton both overall (9-15) and in the league (5-6). The Mustangs have also had trouble winning of late, with their 74-65 defeat at the hands of Long Beach State on Saturday their fifth loss in the past six games.
Fullerton bested Cal Poly at home back on Jan. 23, 58-56, although the Mustangs still hold a 33-26 advantage in the all-time series.
The Titans held a lead against Hawaii with under five minutes to play but fell victim to a 8-2 run by the Rainbow Warriors as they lost control of the contest down the stretch. They shot 44.6 percent from the field on the evening and made 16-of-22 from the free-throw line, but they couldn't keep pace with Hawaii, who shot 50 percent from the field and knocked down 92.3 percent of its 26 tries at the stripe. Alex Harris was outstanding despite the setback with a game-high 29 points, while Michael Williams and Sheldon Blackwell poured in 16 and 15 points, respectively.
On the season, Fullerton typically has a much more difficult time putting points on the board, as it shoots just 42.5 percent from the field for 67.4 ppg, which isn't nearly enough to support its lackluster defensive effort (.449, 71.2 ppg). Williams (16.6 ppg) and Harris (15.5 ppg) have been stellar as the team's top scorers, but no one else nets greater than 7.4 ppg.
The Mustangs went into intermission of their most recent game trailing by two, and they could never overtake the lead in the second half on their way to the nine-point defeat. They shot a lowly 35 percent from the field on day, while allowing LBSU to make good on greater than 53 percent of its tries from the floor. Although 10 different players scored at least three points in the loss, only one finished with double figures, as Kyle Odister came off the bench to shoot 3-of-6 from 3-point range for 11 points.
Cal Poly has been able to remain competitive in most of its games this season thanks to a stout defense, which allows only 63.9 ppg, but unfortunately it does not have the requisite offensive attack to properly support it, as it shoots just 41.7 percent from the field for a mere 63.7 ppg. It has also been inactive and ineffective at the free-throw line, making just 11.0 foul shots per game at a 67.9 percent clip. Chris Eversley leads the team in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg), but he shoots just 39.9 percent from the floor. Dave Nwaba (11.5 ppg) and Odister (10.0 ppg) have been solid as well.
With neither team performing well of late, a small advantage has to go to the Mustangs, as at least they'll have their home crowd to back them up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal Poly 66, Cal State Fullerton 64
02/20 10:21:07 ET