GAME NOTES: Both the UC Riverside Highlanders and Cal State Fullerton Titans look to rebound from losses as they meet up in Big West Conference action on Thursday at Titan Gym.
UC Riverside will hit the road for the second consecutive time to face the Titans in their first conference game this season. The Highlanders lost Saturday to North Texas, 76-72, and have lost three of their last four games.
Cal State Fullerton has lost two in a row and has fallen to 5-9 overall this season before conference play starts. The Titans are coming off a loss to Tulsa, 73-57, in their most recent contest.
Fullerton owns a hefty all-time series lead, 29-17, over the Highlanders. These two teams will meet again this season on Feb. 6 at Riverside.
UC Riverside trailed in the second half by 16 points, but managed to erase the deficit and tie the game late against North Texas. But the Mean Green were able to hang on for the win. Both Sam Finley and Steven Thornton netted 18 points to pace the Highlanders, while Thornton added nine rebounds and two steals. Taylor Johns scored eight point but contributed a game-high 15 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. Riverside shot 42.4 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent from 3-point range.
Chris Patton leads the Highlanders in scoring this season with 12.8 ppg, but has missed multiple contests and is questionable for this game with a sore knee. Johns is second on the team with 12.4 ppg for a team averaging 67.1 ppg. The forward is first on the team in rebounding with 8.4 rpg and 29 total blocks this season. The Highlanders are shooting 43.1 percent from the floor.
Tulsa grabbed an early lead over Cal State Fullerton in the team's last contest and never looked back, defeating the Titans with ease, 73-57. Michael Williams scored a team-high 20 points for Fullerton on 7-of-12 shooting, contributing five rebounds. Josh Gentry netted 15 points off the bench on 5- of-11 shooting from the floor, as the Titans as a squad shot just 37.3 percent from the field. Alex Harris pulled down a team-high six rebounds. The Titans turned the ball over 16 times in the contest, only accumulating half that number in assists.
Williams paces the Titans this season in scoring with 15.2 ppg on 42.4 percent shooting. Though he's only played in 10 games, Harris is second on the team with 12 ppg. Both he and Williams are the only two players contributing scoring averages in the double digits. Steve McClellan is the team's leading rebounder with 5.2 rpg, despite averaging just 17.8 minutes per contest.
The battle between these two California-based Big West teams is fairly even. If Patton can play for Riverside, it's a huge boost for the Highlanders in terms of scoring. Although they're on the road, the Highlanders have a better all-around lineup.
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