It’s often said in basketball, “Live with the bomb, die with the bomb.” Wildly fending off the demise that warning promises, the Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team is living it up, and doing it quite well.
The Titans, who host Cal Poly at 7 p.m., are the only team in the Big West Conference to take more 3-pointers per game than the Mustangs, and it’s been to their advantage so far this season.
In taking 22.9 shots from deep per outing, Cal State Fullerton (9-4, 2-0 BWC), which is coming off a 77-47 rout of UC Riverside on Monday, has hit 43 percent to rack up a conference-pacing 83.7 points per game.
“(Titans head coach Bob Burton) wants to get it and go,” Mustangs head coach Kevin Bromley said Monday. “They’ve got some guards who can really shoot it.”
Best exemplifying that statement is junior Josh Akognon, who makes 44 percent of his gamely nine-and-a-half 3-point attempts en route to a team-leading 20.8 points-per-game mark.
Of Cal State Fullerton’s six leading scorers, five shoot better than 46 percent overall from the floor, including four who make at least 41 percent of their shots from 3-point range.
Getting back down the floor before the defense can get set, Bromley said, triggers the Titans’ perimeter frenzy.
“Fullerton’s really good speed-wise again,” he added. “To prepare for Fullerton you have to work on defense in transition. If you don’t get back in transition and you make it a fullcourt game, a wide-open game, they’re going to beat you.”
While the Titans’ guards key their offensive attack, Bromley said their post presence will have to be accounted for as well.
Six-foot-five, 235-pound junior forward Scott Cutley, who leads Cal State Fullerton with 6.9 rebounds per game while averaging 13.3 points, is short for his position but “a load in (the paint) because he’s such a big body,” Bromley said.
Last in the conference in overall defense, though, surrendering 73.8 points per contest, the Titans’ style could open the door for the Mustangs (6-8, 1-1 BWC) to win their second Big West opportunity in as many tries after edging Long Beach State 64-52 Saturday.
Instrumental to Cal Poly’s chances could be senior guard Dawin Whiten, who has taken more shots than any other Mustang during the season, yet has connected on just 27.1 percent, last on the team.
Whiten, though, is well positioned to regain his form based on his confidence, leadership and commitment, Bromley said.
“I think Dawin’s in a good place right now,” Bromley said. “He’s trying to share the basketball, trying not to be a hog, complementing his teammates and doing a good job of defending.”
The veteran has dished out the second-most assists on the team, but Bromley would like to see him reclaim his role as a go-to, leading scorer.
“We want to get the ball in his hands more,” Bromley said. “He can’t be a seven-point scorer for us to be successful.”