"No, definitely not," CSUF forward Scott Cutley said after the Titans improved to 5-1 on the season with their win on Saturday.
The Titans, playing at home for the first time since Nov. 14, looked as if they were on to blow out the visiting Roadrunners (3-5) early on, but stumbled early in the second half before regaining their form at the end of the game.
Fullerton will travel to UCLA next to take on the top-ranked Bruins at the legendary Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Even though the Titans got the victory, Titan Head Coach Bob Burton didn't like the way his team played heading into the UCLA game. He talked to the players for 25 minutes after the game ended before letting the media enter the locker room.
Against the Roadrunners, the Titans where shooting better, playing better defense and built a 35-23 lead at halftime, but the start of the second half proved to be different. With some players in foul trouble, and others trying to play through injury, Texas-San Antonio began the second half going on a 12-4 run to close the gap to 39-35. With key players like Brown (fouls), Ray Reed (fouls) and Frank Robinson (injury) all on the bench, the Roadrunners erased the Titans' once 16-point lead to 46-44 with 12:12 left in the game.
"If we play like this [against UCLA], we'll be home by halftime," Burton said of the team's porous defense, offensive cold streak and turnovers committed during that stretch. The team's woeful play can be traced to the absence of Brown and Reed in the backcourt, Burton pointed out.
Cutley agreed. "It starts with our guards," Cutley said. "When they are not out there, it puts more pressure on the rest us to step up."
The Titans never relinquished their lead - in fact, the Titans only trailed once on the whole night, for six seconds at the start of the game - and would eventually regained their form in the final minutes.
Brown and Justin Burns, each with 21 points, led the team on a 17- 7 run that put the Titans back up by 16 points at 76-60 with 2:08 left. During the run, the Titans defense got tougher and began to pressure the Roadrunners into bad shots - and also UTSA Head Coach Brooks Thompson into a technical.
Brown led the way with three pointers at the beginning and end of the run and converting the technicalfoul shots. Others to contribute to the run were Burns, who was 11 of 14 from the free throw line on the night, with a dunk and lay up, Cutley with a lay up and an assist and Marcus Crenshaw with a three pointer. The run sealed the game for the Titans.
"That's what college basketball is," Brown said. "They go on runs, we have to adjust and make stops and go on our runs. It's ups and downs."
Brown said a key for the Titans against UCLA will be to keep their emotions in check. Brown pointed out to last year's home game against Pacifica as an example. Brown said the Titans came out to amped and "ran out of gas." "We can't come out, like, all rowdy," he said.
The Titans adjusted fine on Saturday. Now Burton wonders if they can do it against the top team in the nation on Tuesday. "I was just not happy with our defense and our offense," Burton said. "Next Tuesday will be different … I just wanted to make sure we're all on the same page."
Where are the Fans? The announced crowd for the game was 620. The number is not bad, but Burton wants more. The Titans started the season 4-0, their best start since 1989, and where home for the first time in three weeks. "We have a good team," Burton said. "The fans we have are great, but we need more … more students." Burton said he wants to make it tough for visiting teams to play at Titan Gym.
The Titans next home game is Dec. 16 against Bethune-Cookman.