Cal State Fullerton Titans (2-6) at Pepperdine Waves (5-3)
Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Location: Firestone Fieldhouse
Time: 7:00 PM PST
Head-to-Head: Pepperdine leads 11-10
Last Meeting: Cal State Fullerton won 83-81 12/9/2006 in Malibu, Calif.
Cal State Fullerton
Sheldon Blackwell, 7.1 PPG, 3.1 APG
Michael Williams, 14.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.0 APG
Josh Gentry, 7.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG
Marquis Horne, 9.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG
Joe Boyd, 3.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG
Jeremy Major, 10.4 PPG, 6.0 APG
Malcolm Brooks, 6.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG
Malte Kramer, 6.3 PPG
Stacy Davis, 17.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG
Brendan Lane, 15.3 PPG, 9.5 RPG
Floor spacing and Three-Point shooting key for Pepperdine
Pepperdine has gotten off to a wonderful start this year shooting from beyond the arc. Stacy Davis did not make a 3-point shot all of last season, but is 7/11 this year. Malte Kramer is at 61% from beyond the arc this year after shooting just 18% last year in a handful of games. Nikolas Skouen is a more than capable 3 point shooter and despite increased attention from perimeter defenses, he is still shooting 35% on threes coming off the bench.
Pepperdine’s 3 point shooting allows them to achieve their primary goal on offense, which is to get the ball down low to Davis and Brendan Lane. They are both physical presences who can score in the post, and they combine for nearly half of Pepperdine’s 36 rebounds. The more the Waves can shoot the 3, the more the floor will be spaced, leaving Davis and Lane in single coverage matchups. With freshman Jeremy Major distributing the ball the way he has been, the Waves should have no problem finding open shooters on the perimeter or Davis/Lane inside.
Previewing the Titans
With starting guard Alex Harris still recovering from a sprained ankle, Cal State Fullerton will look to get most of its offensive through off-guard Michael Williams. That name should sound familiar to WCC basketball fans, as Williams played 3 seasons for Rex Walters at San Francisco before transferring to CSF after a disappointing junior season. However, he will not be too familiar to the current Pepperdine team, as Nikolas Skouen is the only Wave to have ever played against Williams. He is a high volume shooter who can also penetrate at times. The key is not necessarily to stop him from scoring entirely. But if he scores 15 points on 15 shot attempts, the Waves should be fairly pleased.
Marquis Horne is a 6’6 forward who can step out and shoot it similar to Stacy Davis. It would be interesting to watch those two match up against each other. If Jeremy Major can pressure the Titans’ point guard Sheldon Blackwell, who currently has a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, the Waves will be in good shape because Michael Williams is not much of a point guard at all.
The Titans beat Santa Clara 86-73 earlier this season, but I believe the Waves will provide a tougher test. One mark of comparison is that Pepperdine lost by 6 points to San Jose State and CSF lost to SJSU by 22. The Waves are coming off a promising performance at the Great Alaska Shootout. Despite going 1-2, they played two quality mid-major teams very close (Indiana State and Green Bay). At Firestone Fieldhouse, I am giving the Waves a slight edge over the Titans. I say the Waves will squeak out a 74-70 victory.