Preview: CSF at UCSB

A battle for first place in the Big West Conference takes center stage tonight in Santa Barbara as the Gauchos face off against the Cal State Fullerton Titans at the Thunderdome.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Thunderdome (6,000) -- Santa Barbara, California. Television: None. Home Record: Fullerton 6-0, UCSB 4-2. Away Record: Fullerton 4-2, UCSB 5-1. Neutral Record: Fullerton 0-0, UCSB 0-0. Conference Record: Fullerton 1-0, UCSB 1-0. Series Record: UC Santa Barbara leads, 31-30.

GAME NOTES: A battle for first place in the Big West Conference takes center stage tonight in Santa Barbara as the Gauchos face off against the Cal State Fullerton Titans at the Thunderdome. UCSB opened league play two nights ago with a 99-91 win over Cal Poly on the road, pushing the team's current win streak to five games. The Gauchos are a perfect 6-0 at home thus far in 2006-07 and are tied with Fullerton with a 1-0 mark in league play after the Titans took out UC Riverside on Thursday night with a 73-65 victory at home. The win for Fullerton was the fifth in the last six games, with the team having posted only three losses on the year to San Diego, San Diego State and Loyola Marymount. With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, UCSB currently holds a narrow 31-30 edge over the Titans heading into this meeting. However, Fullerton is closing the gap after winning the most recent meeting a season ago by a score of 80-76.

All five starters scored in double figures as the Titans had a total of six double-digit scorers in their win over Cal Poly on Thursday night at Mott Gym. Bobby Brown led the bunch with his 28 points and eight assists, followed by Scott Cutley with 16 points, eight boards and six dishes. Frank Robinson tacked on 14 points, Justin Burns 13 and nine rebounds, while Ray Reed and Marcus Crenshaw added 12 points apiece as the Titans shot 14-of-28 behind the three- point line. Brown remains one of the top scorers in the nation with his 22.3 ppg while shooting 52.3 percent from behind the three-point line. Cutley accounts for 14.8 ppg and a team-best 9.0 rpg, while Burns chips in 12.1 ppg and is second on the glass with seven rebounds per game for a team that is clearing more than 40 rebounds per game overall and is putting up better than 88 ppg as well.

Thanks to 20 points in the second half, Alex Harris finished with a career- high 32 points while leading the Gauchos to victory over UC Riverside a couple nights back. Harris finished the contest 4-of-7 behind the three-point line and 12-of-16 at the charity stripe, while Ivan Elliott came up with his first double-double consisting of 12 points and a team-high 10 boards. The Gauchos held a huge advantage at the free-throw line where they outscored the Highlanders, 23-2. Harris has upped his scoring average this season to 21.8 ppg now on the strength of his 49.2 percent accuracy beyond the arc. But Harris is more than just a long-distance sniper because he is also hitting on 53.1 percent from the field overall and 83.3 percent at the stripe after 12 games. Chris Devine failed to score in double figures the last time out, but that hasn't stopped him from putting up 15.8 ppg thanks to 54.6 percent from the field.

Both of these teams have outstanding individual scorers who pace their respective squads, so while Brown and Harris fight for the scoring lead in this meeting it will be the supporting casts who will be the deciding factors.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Fullerton 93, UC Santa Barbara 87

This story originally published on The Sports Network.

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