Teams: UC Davis at Cal State Fullerton
Records: Aggies, 6-10 (1-2); Titans, 8-8 (2-2)
Where: Titan Gym – Fullerton, Calif.
When: Today at 7:05 p.m.
Who to watch: Mark Payne is coming off of the best homestand of his career.
The sophomore point guard averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds, 4.5 assists and two steals in two games. He had a double-double in both contests and scored a career-high 22 points on Saturday against Long Beach State.
Payne was appropriately one of the leading vote getters for Big West Conference Player of the Week.
Did you know? Cal State Fullerton returns only two players from last year’s team: Josh Akognon and Marcio Lassiter, who saw 9.8 minutes per game in 2007-2008 as a reserve.
Preview: A game against Fullerton can mean only one thing: Josh Akognon.
The NBA talent is the Big West’s leading scorer, and he’ll be on the court tonight when the Aggies face the Titans.
A transfer out of Washington State, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior guard has been known to take over a game with his offense. Despite shooting a paltry 39.2 percent from the field, Akognon ranks sixth in the country with 24.0 points per contest and has put up a career-high 41 points twice this year.
Akognon’s most recent 41-point game came on Dec. 13 in an 87-64 win over Cal State Bakersfield. The Petaluma, Calif. native was 10-of-20 from the floor, 6-of-11 from beyond the arc and 15-of-15 from the free throw line. He also added seven rebounds and four assists.
As the Roadrunners saw that night, Akognon can hurt a defense in many ways. Ranked second in the country with 10.9 3-point attempts per game, Akognon has a fast release and NBA range, and he’s also capable of attacking the basket and getting to the line with his elite quickness.
The key to having success against him, however, may be to limit the quality of 3-point looks he sees. When Akognon makes better than 33.3 percent of his 3-pointers, Fullerton is 7-0. When he hits 33.3 percent or less, the Titans are just 1-8.
“He’s the most explosive player in our league, and you need to treat him as such,” said UC Davis coach Gary Stewart. “We’re going to have to play him with 13 guys. We can’t just play him with one.“
With Akognon drawing most of the attention, freshman point guard Jacques Streeter has emerged as the team’s secondary scorer. He is averaging 16.6 points per game over the team’s past five games, going 16-of-29 from beyond the arc over that period.
Fullerton went on the road last week and picked up its first two wins of Big West play. It defeated Cal Poly 86-82 on Thursday and then UC Santa Barbara 62-58 on Saturday. Its two conference losses came against Cal State Northridge, 90-66, and at UC Irvine, 78-74.