CSUF men’s basketball looks to continue winning ways in Portland

In Sports
(Katie Albertson / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball will hit the road for the first time in three weeks on Wednesday Dec. 6 to take on the Portland Pilots.

Junior guard Kyle Allman led the team in scoring in two of the team’s last four games and posted double figures in all four.

While he said he’s comfortable playing in Titan Gym, Allman also isn’t worried that his play will fall off in Portland.

“I’m coming off of a lot of momentum, so I’m just going to build off that,” Allman said. “I’ll be fine.”

The Titans guard is not blind to his individual success; he’s just choosing to focus on the team’s success instead. Allman doesn’t think the team has found the rhythm that Titans Head Coach Dedrique Taylor has been seeking from the team in recent weeks.

“We’re just scratching the surface, but we’re pretty good right now,” Allman said. “We’re starting to get there.”

Forward Arkim Robertson is of the same mind, saying the team is in a good place but has a lot of work ahead of them in order to tap into their full potential.

“I feel like our chemistry is better, but going down along the way, it’s going to improve,” Robertson said.

The Titans’ big man understands that his impact will be felt by making championship plays, which Robertson defines as rebounding, blocking shots, making it hard for guards to score in the paint and diving on the ground for balls.

Fullerton’s offense has continued to improve after averaging just under 50 points per game in its first two contests. After those losses, the Titans have poured in 71.6 points per game, which is still fewer than the Pilots’ 79.3 average.

Scoring the third-most points per game in the West Coast Conference is impressive considering that the conference includes Gonzaga, the nation’s 12th-best team according to the Associated Press, and Saint Mary’s, who entered the season ranked No. 21.

Where the Pilots fail to match the Titans, though, is on the defensive end.

Portland ranks eight out of 10 in the WCC in points allowed at 76.2 per outing, whereas CSUF gives up 63 points per game to opponents, which ranks second in the Big West.

Portland plays around the height of its players. While the Titans’ homecoming opponent, the Cal Lutheran University Kingsmen had one player who stands at 6 feet 9 inches, the Pilots have four players at or above that mark.

Philipp Hartwich, Portland’s 7-foot-2-inch center from Germany, averages over 10 rebounds per game, more than double what Robertson grabs per contest.

As a team, CSUF grabs more rebounds (38.3) than Portland (37.9), something Robertson said he hopes will give his team an edge.

“I need to crash the boards so I can help my team win,” Robertson said.

Allman is also confident that teammate Khalil Ahmad will bounce back against the Pilots on Wednesday after putting up a meager 5 points against Cal Lutheran.

Not only has Ahmad led the team in scoring twice this year, he was also the second-highest scorer on the 2016-17 Titans squad. Outside of two games (12 points against Bethesda and 25 against Sacramento State), Ahmad has not scored in double figures this season.

Regardless, Allman did not hesitate to boldly predict a strong performance for his backcourt mate.

“The way he practiced today he’s going to have 25 at Portland,” Allman said.

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