DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 9th, 9:05 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthington Arena (7,250) -- Bozeman, Montana. Television: None. Home Record: Fullerton 2-0, MSU 1-1. Away Record: Fullerton 1-2, MSU 2-2. Neutral Record: Fullerton 1-3, MSU 0-0. Conference Record: Fullerton 0-0, MSU 0-1. Series Record: Montana State leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Montana State Bobcats try to bounce back from their conference-opening loss over the weekend as they host the Cal State Fullerton Titans tonight in Bozeman. After winning back-to-back games over Oregon State and Great Falls, the Bobcats began their Big Sky Conference slate on Saturday and had their lowest scoring game of the 2008-09 campaign with a 61-55 setback to the Eastern Washington Eagles on the road in Cheney. After tonight's date, MSU hits the road for three in a row and doesn't host another game until three days after Christmas. As for the Titans, they picked up their second win in three tries over the weekend with a 79-65 victory versus a visiting Central Michigan squad. With the win, Fullerton evened its overall record on the season at 4-4 and remained perfect at home with two wins in as many opportunities. Montana State leads the all-time series between these two programs by a 2-1 margin, posting an 88-64 triumph in the most recent meeting back in 1999 in Bozeman. The lone win for Fullerton came a season earlier in a 73-67 decision at home.
For the eighth game in a row Josh Akognon scored at least 20 points for the Titans, 27 to be exact, as he led the program to a win over Central Michigan on Saturday. With his effort, Akognon set a new school record at the Division I level for the most consecutive games with at least 20 points. But more than just that, Akognon also registered a career-best seven assists as well, not to mention sharing the team high with six rebounds to complete his all-around effort. Marcio Lassiter and Jacques Streeter stepped up with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Except for the opener when Gerard Anderson, who twisted his ankle over the weekend, tallied 21 points for the Titans, Akognon has paced the team in scoring every time out and is now averaging a hefty 24.6 ppg which places him near the top in terms of national average these days. Akognon is attempting almost 20 shots per game and has accounted for 101 of the unit's 192 shots from behind the three-point line already. Anderson is the only other player on the roster scoring in double figures with his 10.3 ppg, not to mention leading the group with his 6.4 rpg as well.
Ahead by five points at the break against Eastern Washington on the road in the conference opener, the Bobcats suffered a huge drop off in shooting in the second half when they made a mere 7-of-24 chances. What's worse is that MSU also converted only 6-of-14 at the free-throw line in the second half and had a combined 19 turnovers on the night. Will Bynum turned his 8-of-9 shooting effort into a team-best 21 points, adding five steals, four rebounds and two assists, but he also had six miscues. Danny Piepoli cooked up 11 points and six boards off the bench as well. This team has four players scoring in double figures at the moment, led by Bobby Howard and his 13.0 ppg, but his meager 47.6 percent accuracy at the free-throw line has to be a concern. As a team Montana State is hitting on just 64.6 percent at the charity stripe over the course of six games. Divaldo Mbunga checks in with 12.3 ppg and is first with 6.5 rpg and 11 blocked shots, but having just five assists from someone who handles the ball as much as he does is still not good enough.
Of all the players outside of the power conferences, Akognon has to be considered one of the best, which is why he and the Titans are destined for big things this season, not to mention another win tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Fullerton 73, Montana State 63