The Southern Oregon men's basketball team won't have the luxury of easing back in following a 10-day layoff as it enters a critical stretch in its Cascade Collegiate Conference schedule this weekend at Mountain Avenue Gym.
At 7:30 p.m. today, the ninth-ranked Raiders (8-5 overall, 3-1 CCC) host No. 25 Warner Pacific (10-3, 5-0), the only team that has yet to lose in conference play. They'll turn around to play Saturday against Multnomah (4-8, 1-2) before starting a brief road swing Tuesday at No. 19 Oregon Tech (10-4, 3-1), where they haven't won since the 2014-15 season.
Last Time Out: SOU dropped a nonconference game on Dec. 19 at William Jessup, 73-70, after charging back from what had been a 17-point deficit with 13 minutes left to play. The Raiders had the ball while trailing by two points twice in the final minute but failed to get over the hump; it was their fourth loss in a row that had been decided by two or three points. It was preceded by a CCC road trip to Washington, where the Raiders lost in double-overtime at Northwest, 98-96, and handled Evergreen, 73-60. During the three-game swing they shot 41 percent from the field; before the swing they were shooting 52 percent.
• In four home games, SOU is shooting 54 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range. The Raiders have shot worse than 48 percent from the field just twice in their 26 games at Mountain Avenue Gym over the last three seasons.
• Tristen Holmes' average 7.5 assists in conference play tops the CCC, and SOU's average of 19.1 is seventh-best nationally. The Raiders have gone 32-3 when recording at least 20 assists over the last three years.
• Senior guard Kenny Meyer has averaged 17.8 points 50-percent shooting off the bench in SOU's last four games. After opening the season with three straight double-digit outputs, lingering injuries had limited him to 18 points combined in six games prior to the hot streak. In CCC play, he currently ranks 16th in points (14.3), seventh in steals (1.8) and 10th in assists (3.5).
• Starting wings Ben DeSaulnier and Conor Carroll have combined to make 50 3-pointers on 43-percent accuracy this season. The Raiders rank 18th in the NAIA as a team in 3-point percentage (40.3).
• DeSaulnier's career point total of 1,730 is third on SOU's all-time list, and with 23 more he'd have 1,000 in conference games alone. Only 15 other Raiders have scored 1,000 points total.
• Of the 12 teams SOU has seen this season, only two — Evergreen and Simpson (Calif.) — currently have losing records.
About Warner Pacific:
• Seeking a return to the national tournament for the 11th time in 13 years, the Knights enter the weekend winners of six straight games. They've been off since blowing out Walla Walla back-to-back days on Dec. 15 and 16.
• WPC went 8-12 in the CCC last year but was without two key players from its 2015-16 team who have returned after redshirt seasons: seniors Xavier Cannefax (17.0 points) and De'Jon Bowman (9.9 points, 8.9 rebounds). Junior Collin Malcolm, a product of Ashland High, is arguably the best-rounded player in the circuit with averages of 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. That trio is combining to shoot 55 percent from the field.
• WPC leads the all-time series against SOU, 35-30, but the Raiders have swept the last two regular-season series.
• The Lions have been off since Dec. 9 and picked up their lone CCC win against Evergreen, 74-69. Spanning back to last season, they've lost 12 straight conference road games.
• As usual, the Lions are one of the most trigger-happy teams in the country from downtown: 51 percent of their total field-goal attempts have been 3-pointers, compared to 38 percent for SOU, though they're shooting at just a 30-percent clip outside. Their leading scorers, Brett Blackstock (14.1 points) and Ben Grandle (14.1 points), have taken more than anyone on the team.
• SOU has won all four matchups with the Lions by an average of 26 points since they joined the CCC and NAIA two years ago.