Wednesday's game between Cal State Fullerton and No. 21 Saint Mary's appears to be a mismatch, considering the Titans' 42-point loss at USC in their season opener while the Gaels steamrolled their first two opponents.
The Titans (0-1) travel about 400 miles up the coast for Wednesday night's game at Moraga, Calif., with the hope that their young season does not go further south.
"You have to crawl before you walk," Dedrique Taylor, in his fifth season as Fullerton's coach, told the Orange County Register.
Taylor, whose team finished 17-15 last season, claims the Titans "should have easily been at 21, 22 wins" had they played to their ability.
"What I anticipate happening is this group, this nucleus that was playing last year, they will appreciate that and hopefully not leave any crumbs on the table," Taylor said.
In an 84-42 loss at USC, the Titans were left starving, shooting only 23.3 percent (14 of 60) from the field with 21 turnovers and a 12-of-29 performance from the free throw line.
"The way that our group came out, we had no energy, no purpose, and USC did what they were supposed to do," said Taylor, who is 47-80 at Fullerton.
Saint Mary's (2-0) is shooting 54.4 percent after defeating Saint Francis (Pa.) 85-68 and New Mexico State 92-74.
The senior trio of Calvin Hermanson, Jock Landale and Emmett Naar has each made 14 field goals -- the same total that Fullerton made against USC -- only they are shooting at a much better rate.
Hermanson has made 14 of 17 shots (82.4 percent), while Landale and Naar have each made 14 of 21 (66.7 percent). Landale, a 6-foot-11 senior center, is one of the top big men in the country.
Their contribution has proven vital after Saint Mary's lost starting point guard Joe Rahon and effective sixth man Dane Pineau to graduation.
"We don't feel desperate to carry the load," said Landale, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds against New Mexico State, about the veterans on the team. "We're more focused on keeping the other guys calm and making sure they're focused when they come in.
"We have been up at the top of the score sheet over the first two games, but the guys behind us are more than capable."
Fullerton features returning starters Khalil Ahmad, Jackson Rowe and Kyle Allman, who each averaged double-figure scoring last season. Ahmad led the team with 11.2 points a game, followed by Rowe (10.4) and Allman (10.2).
Rowe, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, was the only player in double figures against USC with 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds. He made 5 of 10 shots from the field while Allman and Rowe combined to shoot 5 of 25, including 0 of 7 from 3-point range.
Fullerton had only four assists with its 21 turnovers against the Trojans.
Saint Mary's compiled 15 assists with only four turnovers against New Mexico State on Monday. Naar had a team-high five assists with no turnovers in 37 minutes.
"Emmett played well. He takes what the defense gives him," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "If he can score, he'll score, and he'll find the open man if you send people at him. He's much more healthy than he was coming into last year. He's a different athlete this time around."