DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 7th, 9:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: Fullerton 1-1, Utah 1-1. Away Record: Fullerton 2-1, Utah 0-2. Neutral Record: Fullerton 1-1, Utah 0-3. Conference Record: Fullerton 0-0, Utah 0-0. Series Record: Utah leads, 9-2.
GAME NOTES: Because of conduct detrimental to the team, Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak has decided to suspend Josh Watkins indefinitely, which means the Utes now need to find a substitute for his 17.7 ppg and 4.9 apg, which also pace the program. Losing clutch players is no way to survive in the Pac-12 Conference, or even playing in non-league battles leading up to the conference slate, especially for a team like Utah which has won only once in seven attempts.
Since slipping by San Diego Christian (58-55) in the season opener, Utah has bowed in six straight decisions, including an ugly 82-52 final versus Fresno State on Saturday at the Save Mart Center in California.
As for the Titans, they pulled off three consecutive wins to begin 2011-12, but then immediately went the other way with three straight defeats. Fullerton managed to halt the slide on Saturday with a 79-57 romp over SIU Edwardsville, putting the team a game over .500 after seven games.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Runnin' Utes are ahead by a count of 9-2 and have won five in a row over Fullerton.
D.J. Seeley took control of the offense for the Titans over the weekend, scoring 24 points to pace four players in double figures in the win against SIU Edwardsville on the road. Isiah Umipig responded with 18 points as he converted 4-of-8 shots behind the three-point line, while Kwame Vaughn came up a rebound shy of a double-double with his 15-point effort. Off the bench, Andre Hardy tacked on 10 points in 16 minutes, while Omondi Amoke make a positive impact with a game-high 12 rebounds. Shooting 40.5 percent from beyond the arc, Seeley leads the team in scoring with 16.7 ppg, helping propel the Titans to a solid 78.3 ppg. Amoke (13.9 ppg) is responsible for eight rebounds per game and that has the program clearing 40.1 rpg overall which is significantly higher than the competition at just 30.6 rpg.
Making just eight field goals in the first half over the weekend against Fresno State, the Utes took themselves out of contention almost right away. The team finished the meeting at just 34.7 percent from the floor and 5-of-18 behind the three-point line. Chris Hines was the leading scorer for the visitors with his 14 points, followed by Jason Washburn who registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Watkins was responsible for 11 points, but he shot just 4-of-16 from the floor on his way there, while Cedric Martin tacked on 10 points in the losing effort. Losing Watkins for the immediate future is a huge blow to the Utes because he was the only player to have scored in double figures in all seven games thus far. Washburn (10.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg) will now have even more on his plate as he is a likely source for offense considering he's shooting 64.6 percent from the field. Hines (9.7 ppg) might have some more plays run for him, but his 32.7 percent accuracy from the floor is far less encouraging.
If the Utes were at a disadvantage before, they are even further behind the eight ball now with Watkins watching from the sidelines. Fullerton is not a dominant team, but the Titans have what it takes to win this game on the road nonetheless.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Fullerton 78, Utah 60