GAME NOTES: Conference foes collide in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament tonight, as the Pacific Tigers host the San Diego Toreros at the Spanos Center in Stockton.
Pacific, which switched over to the West Coast Conference this season after being a major player in the Big West for so many years, has quite a bit of experience in this event, with this being the squad's third appearance. The Tigers made it to the semifinals in 2009, and then advanced to the title tilt a year later where they bowed to Missouri State, 78-65.
In terms of this year's tourney, Pacific first took down Grand Canyon by a mere two points (69-67) on March 19, but then followed that up with a staggering 89-60 thrashing of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi over the weekend.
Over on the other side, the Toreros are just getting their feet wet in this event, sporting a record of 2-0 after topping Portland State in the first round last week, 87-65, at home, and then hitting the road to tackle Sam Houston State in Texas on Saturday, 77-72.
The teams split their two regular-season matchups, each winning on the road. The most recent of those meetings took place here in the Spanos Center last month, with the Toreros posting a 70-55 victory, thanks to Christopher Anderson who came up an assist short of a triple-double as he tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds.
With the recent split, the all-time series stands at 6-5 in favor of the Tigers.
The winner of this meeting will advance to the semifinals of the sixth annual event against an opponent to be determined.
Anderson was at it again for the Toreros as they slipped by Sam Houston State, scoring 19 points and handing out 10 assists, shooting 4-of-5 behind the 3- point line. Also scoring in double figures for San Diego were Johnny Dee with 15 points, to go along with six boards and six dishes, followed by Dennis Kramer and Duda Sanadze with 13 and 12 points, respectively, as the squad shot an impressive 58.7 percent from the floor and 9-of-17 beyond the arc in order to overcome 15 turnovers.
Of the four players scoring in double figures to this point in the season for the Toreros, Anderson is last with 10.3 ppg, but clearly he has more to offer than just putting the ball in the basket himself. One of the nation's best passers with an average of 6.2 apg, Anderson is also first on the unit with 63 steals, all while shooting 45.3 percent out on the perimeter. Dee (16.9 ppg) is also an accurate shooter on the outside at 42.5 percent.
Pacific shot only 3-of-11 from 3-point range in the first half against Texas A&M-CC, but from the rest of the field the squad was an outstanding 15-of-19, en route to an 18-point halftime lead and an eventual lopsided victory at home. Sama Taku led four players in double figures with his 15 points, followed by Tony Gill (14 points), Ross Rivera (13) and David Taylor (10) as the squad finished the contest shooting 58.3 percent from the floor and watching the visitors convert a feeble 5-of-18 at the free-throw line.
The offensive explosion by Pacific over the weekend was somewhat unexpected, given that the squad is averaging only 72.9 ppg, which means that, on the average, opponents have been outscoring the Tigers by 1.0 ppg this season. Gill, a 51.3 percent shooter from the floor who is responsible for close to six rebounds per outing, is putting up 11.4 ppg, but hot on his tail are both Taku and Andrew Bock with 11.2 and 11.1 ppg, respectively.
The Tigers may have more experience and success in this event and have the home court advantage, but it was just over a month ago that San Diego showed that it too can be victorious in this building. Pacific does have revenge as an incentive, which should be enough to carry the team, as long as it can slow down Anderson and Dee.
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