Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball ready to shock the world, upset Purdue University

In Men's Basketball, Sports
Cal State Fullerton men's basketball guard Khalil Ahmad prepares to take a shot at the basket.
(Katie Albertson / Daily Titan File Photo)

Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball will travel to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Friday for its first-round NCAA Tournament game against No. 2 Purdue University.

The Titans are not focused on the ranking of their opponent. Despite being heavy underdogs against the Boilermakers, CSUF’s 4-0 record in neutral-site games gives them hope for a victory.

“If anything, it gives us more confidence knowing that when we play in a neutral gym, we’re a better team. We just got to play hard. That’s all it is,” said forward Jackson Rowe.

Defense paved the way in Fullerton’s quest to the Big West Tournament championship. In their three postseason affairs, the Titans allowed only 60.3 points per game.

Purdue averaged 81 points per game this season while shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point land. CSUF is prepared to expend all of its energy to stop the Boilermakers from maintaining their averages.

“There’s nothing to hold back anymore. We’re leaving it all out there to try and beat Purdue,” said guard Kyle Allman.

Fullerton suffered multiple losses this season after crucial wins, including the three-game losing streak after the hot start to conference play and the loss at UC Riverside. Both Allman and Rowe said the team became complacent in those affairs. 

However, Rowe is confident the team has learned from its mistakes and will keep effort levels high in Detroit.

“Now that we’ve been through it, it’s going to be easier to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Rowe said.

The Titans know how special Friday’s contest is for their program and university, marking them as they are the third men’s basketball team in program history to play in an NCAA Tournament game and the first since 2008.

“(Winning the Big West) means so much more knowing that we get to play in this tournament. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It might not happen again, so we have to appreciate the moment,” Rowe said.

The contest will tip off at 9:40 a.m. PST and can be streamed on truTV and marchmadness.com.

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