Cal State Fullerton (6-9) at UC Irvine (11-7)
01/16/2014 7:33 AM
01/16/2014 8:31 AM
GAME NOTES: The UC Irvine Anteaters begin a three-game homestand on Thursday night, as they host the Cal State Fullerton Titans in a Big West Conference clash at the Bren Events Center.
The Titans are venturing out after a quick turn at home last Thursday, which ended in a 78-73 victory over UC Riverside. The win halted a two-game slide for the Titans, who are just 6-9 overall, including a 2-5 mark on the road. They will visit UC Davis this weekend before returning back to Titan Gym next Thursday.
The Anteaters have won four straight, including their first two conference bouts against Long Beach State (46-44) and UC Riverside (72-52). They are currently boasting an 11-7 overall record, although that includes a pedestrian 5-3 mark at home. UC Irvine will continue the string of home dates next Thursday against Cal State Northridge.
UC Irvine swept a pair of meetings from the Titans a year ago for its third straight victory in the all-time series, which Cal State Fullerton still leads by a 52-45 margin.
Michael Williams tied for the game-high with 21 points to lead five players in double figures in Cal State Fullerton's victory over UC Riverside. The Titans held the Highlanders to just 39.7 percent shooting in the contest, while outscoring them 18-9 from beyond the arc.
The Titans are far from the most productive team in the Big West, as they are netting just 67.3 ppg and shooting 43 percent from the floor. Each of those figures ranks sixth in the league. Williams (15.6 ppg) is often at the top of the scorer's list for the Titans. The 6-foot-2 guard is on pace to set a career-high in scoring and has tallied 20 points or more in four of the last six outings. Williams doesn't get a ton of support though, with Alex Harris (12.1 ppg) and his 36.6 percent shooting the only other player averaging in double figures.
UC Irvine's last opponent was also UC Riverside as the teams squared off last Saturday. The Anteaters dominated that road clash in securing a 20-point victory, limiting their hosts to 29.6 percent shooting while outscoring them from 3-point range by a staggering 33-3.
The Anteaters are producing at a much more efficient rate than the Titans, averaging 75 ppg, while leading the Big West in assists (17.1 pg) and field goal percentage (.482). They also play well defensively, with teams managing just 67.5 ppg on 38.7 percent shooting against them. The scoring is spread rather evenly between a quartet of players, led by Will Davis II (12.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg), who is also the team leader in rebounds. Chris McNealy (11.7 ppg) and Luke Nelson (11.5 ppg, 3.2 apg) are also averaging in double figures, while Alex Young (9.7 ppg, 4.2 apg) is fourth in the conference in assists.
On their home floor, expect the more efficient Anteaters to have a major advantage, helping them to a fifth straight victory.
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