Wednesday, February 19, 2020

UCSB vs. CSF Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

UCSB at Cal State Fullerton
Thursday, February 20, 2020, 7 pm PST, ESPN3
Quick Bite
A sour taste remains from arguably the worst performance of the season, a nine-point loss at UC Davis last Thursday that considerably dimmed UCSB's regular-season title hopes. The race is for 2nd/3rd and avoiding UC Irvine until BWT Saturday. Now the Gauchos must travel to Orange County for its first meeting with the Titans, with just three weeks remaining in the regular season. Only two games separates 2nd from 9th. It's go time.

By the Numbers

UC Santa Barbara Cal State Fullerton
Record 16-9 10-16
Away/Home/Neutral (D1) 6-6 (A) 3-7 (H)
Big West Conference 5-5 5-6
Record vs. Quadrant vs. Q4: 11-3 vs. Q4: 6-6
Composite (NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag) 181 273
DCI 185 271
DC2 169 285
RPI 193 293
NET 176 259
SOS (NET) 324 292
KPom Offensive Efficiency 77 289
KPom Defensive Efficiency 266 229
KPom Tempo 335 159
Points per game (overall/BWC) 72.1 (144th) / 68.7 (6th) 68.5 (258th) / 74.8 (3rd)
FG% (overall/BWC) 47.0% (32nd) / 46.2% (4th) 43.0% (220th) / 43.7% (6th)
2-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 54.0% (36th) / 52.6% (1st) 47.7% (269th) / 47.5% (8th)
3-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 34.1% (145th) / 35.3% (6th) 33.9% (156th) / 36.1% (4th)
FT% (overall/BWC) 75.9% (36th) / 76.6% (2nd) 68.2% (262nd) / 68.5% (7th)
Points allowed per game (overall/BWC) 67.3 (124th) / 66.8 (3rd) 71.0 (223rd) / 77.5 (8th)
FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 45.4% (300th) / 47.1% (8th) 44.2% (248th) / 45.9% (6th)
2-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 50.5% (241st) / 52.2% (8th) 49.6% (212th) / 50.0% (5th)
3-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 36.1% (314th) / 36.4% (4th) 33.2% (187th) / 37.6% (8th)
Off. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 10.2 (188th) / 8.8 (6th) 7.7 (316th) / 8.7 (3rd)
Def. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 21.2 (7th) / 21.3 (1st) 27.3 (294th) / 27.1 (8th)
Off. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 7.9 (20th) / 7.9 (3rd) 9.1 (101st) / 9.5 (6th)
Def. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 24.0 (305th) / 21.9 (9th) 25.7 (164th) / 24.9 (5th)
Rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 34.2 (273rd) / 30.7 (9th) 33.4 (261st) / 33.6 (4th)
Rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 29.1 (3rd) / 29.2 (1st) 36.4 (247th) / 36.6 (8th)
Assists per game (overall/BWC) 11.5 (71st) / 11.5 (3rd) 12.0 (142nd) / 12.5 (6th)
Steals per game (overall/BWC) 4.6 (7th) / 4.0 (1st) 6.2 (163rd) / 6.0 (8th)
Blocks per game (overall/BWC) 2.2 (9th) / 1.8 (1st) 3.0 (151st) / 3.7 (9th)
Best wins (NET, Quadrant) @ UT Arlington (119, Q2)
UC Irvine (111, Q3)
@ Louisiana (230, Q3)
@ UCLA (99, Q2)
@ UC Davis (207, Q3)
Worst losses (NET, Quadrant) Long Beach St (290, Q4)
CSUN (234, Q4)
Rice (213, Q4)
vs Denver (331, Q4)
@ Cal Poly (318, Q4)
Trend lost 1, won 3 of last 4 won 1, lost 3 of last 5

UCSB - Cal State Fullerton History
UCSB and Cal State Fullerton have played 89 times in a series that began during the 1975-76 season. The Gauchos hold an all-time advantage of 48-41. The Titans won two out of three games between the two schools this season, with Fullerton eliminating UCSB in last year's BWT semifinals. CSUF won the game in Fullerton by an 81-60 margin.

Head Coach
In his seventh season at Cal State Fullerton, Dedrique Taylor has an overall record of 94-124. In 2018-19, the Titans made it to the Big West Tournament Final for the second straight year, the first time that has been accomplished in program history, but were unable to secure the trophy and return to the NCAA Tournament. Fullerton did earn its third consecutive postseason berth, also a program first, as it hosted CSU Bakersfield in the first round of the Postseason Tournament. The Titans went 16-18 on the year and 10-6 in Big West Conference action to take third place in the standings.

Taylor led the 2017-18 squad to a Big West Tournament Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007-08 and only the third time in program history. The year prior, he led the 2016-17 team to the postseason for the first time in program history since the 2011-12 season. The Titans hosted Weber State in the Postseason Tournament, also marking the first time in school history that the team hosted a postseason game.

Taylor played two seasons for Bob Williams at UC Davis, and was an assistant at the school after Williams' departure for UCSB. Taylor was also an assistant at Nevada, Portland State, Loyola Marymount and Arizona State, where he crossed paths with James Harden.

Probable Starters
  • Brandon Kamga (1) SR, G, 6-5, 215 Reston, VA, South Lakes HS, 15.2 Pts, 4.5 Reb, 1.3 Ast -- graduate transfer who played his freshman year at Northeastern and the last two seasons at High Point. No. 2 in Big West in scoring in conference play. Jan. 27 Big West player of the week after scoring 48 points in games vs. CSUN and Davis. Has scored no less than 16 points in 8 straight games (20.5 ppg). Hits 34% of his threes (5 attempts per game). Excellent FT shooter (81% overall, 52 of 60 in conference (87%)). 
  • Austen Awosika (10) SR, G, 6-3, 193, Carson, CA, Ayala HS (Chino Hills), 13.5 Pts, 4.3 Reb, 4.0 Ast -- leads the team in assists and steals. Dec. 30 Big West player of the week. Takes 11.4 shots per game after averaging 6 attempts the previous two seasons. Just 20% from three, but hit 3-of-6 at Cal Poly. Averages 5.5 FT attempts per game, but makes just 59%. Had 5 turnovers in consecutive home games vs. UCR and UCD but only had one in 4OT game vs. Cal Poly (vs. 8 assists).
  • Jackson Rowe (34) SR, F, 6-7, 210, Toronto, Canada, Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, UT), 15.6 Pts, 7.7 Reb, 1.9 Ast -- four-year starter, leads the team in scoring. Averaging 17.0 ppg in conference play. Missed first 11 games of season. Only making 48% from two after three consecutive season of better than 60%. Has added the 3 to his high 59 attempts (4 per game) and making 42%. Only 5 attempts away from a career high in FT attempts (72% completion rate). One of the best rebounders in the conference (7.3 rpg career average).
  • Davon Clare (5) SR, F, 6-5, 220, Killeen, TX, Harker Heights HS, 8.7 Pts, 5.6 Reb, 2.1 Ast -- averaging 32.5 minutes per game as a starter in each game this season, after only 12 previous career starts. Scored a season-high 21 in 4OT game with Cal Poly, hitting 3-of-5 three-pointers. Averaging 7.3 rebounds last 3 games. Good shooter (37% from 3, 52% from 2, 74% from FT). 
  • Vincent Lee (13) FR, F, 6-9, 215, Midlothian, TX, Heritage HS, 5.7 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 0.5 Ast -- left Nevada after one semester as a redshirt freshman. Has worked his way into the starting lineup. Has not taken a 3 this season. Hits 55% of his shots (4 attempts per game). Scored 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds vs. UC Davis. Averaging just 20 minutes per game.
  • Wayne Arnold (11) SO, G, 6-4, 170, Los Angeles, CA, Dominguez HS, 9.2 Pts, 3.1 Reb, 0.7 Ast. -- only played 7 minutes in Cal Poly 4OT game. Averaging 25.5 minutes per game. Hits 34% of 3's (5.5 attempts per game). Has only missed 2 FT's this season (31 of 33, 94%). Doesn't hit shots inside the perimeter (37%).
  • Tory San Antonio (23) FR, G, 6-3, 165, Moreno Valley, CA, Rancho Verde HS, 3.2 Pts, 1.9 Reb, 0.8 Ast -- had a career-high 13 points  vs. Cal Poly, hitting 3-of-5 three-pointers and 4-of-6 FT's in 34 minutes. Before that, he had scored just 2 total points while averaging 8.8 minutes per Big West conference game.
  • Johnny Wang (33) JR, F, 6-9, 245, Beijing, China, Santa Margarita Catholic HS, 2.7 Pts, 2.3 Reb, 0.2 Ast -- only 55 minutes in Big West play, with 3 DNP's.
  • Daniel Venzant (2) SO, G, 5-10, 163, Midland, TX, Midland Christian HS, 2.5 Pts, 0.7 Reb, 0.9 Ast -- has 7 starts, but none since start of conference play. Just 37 minutes in Big West play, with 2 DNP's. 7-of-14 from three. 
  • Josh Pitts (24) JR, F, 6-9, 248, San Antonio, TX, Memorial HS, 1.9 Pts, 1.5 Reb, 0.2 Ast -- was averaging 9 minutes per game in conference play, but did not play vs. Cal Poly. Averages 8 fouls per 40 minutes. Just 10-of-25 from FT line.
  • Cameron Carter (35) FR, G, 6-2, 180, Reno, NV, Damonte Ranch HS, 3.0 Pts, 2.0 Reb, 0.0 Ast -- just one game, hit a 3-pointer in 6 minutes vs. St. Katherine. Doubt we'll see him.
  • Mojus Mojus (12) FR, G, 6-4, 175, San Diego, CA, Balboa School, 0.5 Pts, 0.2 Reb, 0.3 Ast -- possibly the best name in the conference. Unfortunately, hasn't played since Jan. 3.
  • Emmanuel Taban (15) FR, F, 6-7, 171, Phoenix, AZ, Apollo HS, 0.0 Pts, 0.1 Reb, 0.0 Ast -- garbage time player. got 4 minutes in 30-point loss at UCI.

Match-up overview:
Doing this preview, one thing really jumped out at me. Fullerton doesn't have a bench...well, at least a bench that Taylor trusts. Arnold seems to be the only player that has consistently gotten run in every game, yet he hardly played in the 4OT game...Wang and Venzant have disappeared, and nobody had heard of San Antonio until he was pressed into action in the Cal Poly marathon.

Rowe, Kamga and Awosika are the scorers, with Arnold adding another option when he's in the game. Arnold, Kamga, Rowe and Clare are the main 3-point shooters. If you're looking for people to foul, that would be Awosika and Lee.

The Titans lost 7 in a row at one point in non-conference, and then won at UCLA. They lost 3 in a row to begin conference play, and then won 3 in a row. They are playing their 4th game in a row at home, where they have won just 3 games this season. Fullerton has won 5 straight when it holds its opponents to .462 FG% or less, while they have lost 3 in a row when giving up more than that.

Has anyone figured out what happened last Thursday? UCSB has held its previous 3 opponents (all wins) to a .412 FG%, and then UC Davis blitzed the Moses "part the seas" defense for 56%. This board's collective wisdom pins it on perimeter defense. We don't have any. Opponent penetration starts a cascade event that results in baskets or fouls, sometimes both. For a team that plays exclusively man-to-man, they weren't too close to too many men last Thursday. In my opinion, the team was lethargic to begin with. Maybe loggy from the bus ride...I don't know. Defense is at first a matter of will and heart.

So, does Fullerton rely on penetration? Uh, yeah. They lead the conference in FT attempts per game (21.3). Penetration is how they get their threes as well, usually on the strong side. Drive, kick, drive, kick. Or they'll run the weave on you at the top of the key.

So the Gauchos will have to do a better job of stopping penetration. In previous seasons, Pasternack solved this issue by tweaking the man-to-man with the pack-line concept. Why hasn't this been used this season? Also, IMHO, Sekou Toure has the athleticism and energy to play man-to-man defense on the perimeter. But he's only reached double digits once (11 minutes) since Jan. 8. He was consistently getting 20 minutes per game before that. I know he's not even close to perfect, but the guy plays hard and he's got hops. Why is he not playing? What a waste.

The Big West is watching tape of how the UC Davis midgets shut down Amadou Sow. Hawai'i and Irvine couldn't stop him, but Davis harassed the ball and cut off the angles the Gauchos like to use to get Sow the ball. Sow scored just 10 points at Davis, his lowest total since he got 9 at Hawai'i.

At some time, Max Heidegger said "F this" and started launching three-pointers from Sacramento. He made 8-of-12 threes and single-handedly scrambled the Gauchos to the edge of the game. Here's a schocking stat...UCSB is 0-6 this season when Heidegger scores 21 or more points! They are 7-2 otherwise in games that he plays. He's kind of turned into a fire extinguisher...break glass when needed.

JaQuori McLaughlin appears to have fully recovered from his groin injury. He's now had at least 6 FT attempts in two straight games, indicating that he's pinning his ears back more and taking it to the hole. He's struggling from outside, having hit just 5-of-23 (.217) from three over the last 7 games.

Matt Freeman is also struggling from three...since his hallmark 6-of-7 performance at the Pyramid, he is just 3-of-15 (.200) from long distance. He grabbed 7 rebounds vs. Davis, but his defense seemed to take a step back.

Devearl Ramsey is another player who has to be able to stop guard penetration. He had 4 turnovers at Davis as he struggled to distribute the ball, especially in the 1st half. He didn't get to the FT line.

Robinson Idehen appeared to get hurt late in the 1st half...he finished with just 7 minutes of action. This is another player that needs to see the court a lot more. Hopefully, he has recovered from whatever happened.

Brandon Cyrus has made just 11 of his last 37 shots, including just 1-of-11 from three. He did have 4 assists vs. UC Davis.

Jay Nagle played 5 minutes, and had 0's across the board. He has hit just 9 threes since Nov. 16 (.265).

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Stop penetration. The Titans are another one of those teams that runs downhill at you. UCSB must stop straight-line drives to the basket.
  • Control Rowe. He's an excellent rebounder for his size. 
  • Overcome Fullerton's experience. The Titans start four seniors, and Awosika and Rowe have gone to three straight post-seasons and two BWT finals.
  • Better entry passes into the post. If not, bring the bigs out to set screens for the guards and run the pick-and-roll.
  • No moving screens. Say no more.
  • McLaughlin and Heidegger on the same page. I'll keep posting this key until it happens, or Heidegger graduates.
DC2 trends: UCSB's 5-game trend dips to 49.97, but it's still better than it was a few weeks ago. Fullerton is at a lowly 36.05 over its last 5 (last 10 = 40.45, season-long = 38.11). With the logjam below Irvine, every result is magnified for seeding purposes. First things first. My prediction? We dig down deep, and pull out a 68-64 victory.

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