Raiders set for pair of key CCC clashes
The Southern Oregon men’s basketball has an opportunity to strengthen its NAIA Division II Top 25 positioning heading into the new year with two of the Cascade Conference’s best in town this week.
Underscoring the importance of winning at home, only two of 11 teams escaped the first week of CCC play without a loss. The Raiders (7-3 overall, 1-1 CCC) will host their first circuit contests inside Lithia Motors Pavilion against Eastern Oregon (7-4, 1-1) on Friday and fifth-ranked College of Idaho (9-3, 2-0) on Saturday in a rematch of last season’s CCC Tournament championship game. Tipoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. both nights.
LAST TIME OUT: In their final nonleague game, the Raiders defeated Simpson (Calif.) 77-63 on Monday behind Tate Hoffman’s 21 points — 16 of which were scored during a 31-7 run to start the second half, correcting an ugly start to the matchup that saw SOU fall behind 25-9. In their conference opener on Dec. 6, the Raiders fell 73-72 at Northwest (Wash.) after Ryan Ricks converted a three-point play with 3.8 seconds on the clock. SOU led by as many as 15 early in the second half but missed four of seven attempts at the free-throw line in the closing minutes. The Raiders rebounded the next night at Evergreen (Wash.) with a 71-54 win, paced by Hoffman’s 14 points and six rebounds, and held the Geoducks to 37-percent shooting while getting an additional 10 points and eight assists from Aaron Borich.
NAIA TOP 25: The Raiders were off last week for final exams, but there was activity in the coaches’ poll. SOU went from 17th to 18th and Oregon Tech dropped from the top spot to No. 2 after both teams lost at Northwest. College of Idaho stayed at No. 5, rounding out the circuit’s representation, while Northwest popped up in the receiving-votes category and Morningside (Iowa) became the new unanimous No. 1. The next poll will be released Jan. 15.
- The Raiders rank seventh nationally in assists per game (18.6), a category in which they’ve been top-10 six of the previous seven seasons. Over the last four games, 77 percent of their field goals have been assisted. Aaron Borich ranks 41st in the NAIA (4.0/game), while Tez Allen (3.7) and Teron Bradford (3.4) are both among the top-12 in the CCC.
- Tate Hoffman has hit double figures in scoring all 10 games — leading the team with an average of 15.4 points — and shot 53 percent from the field in the last five compared to 36 percent over the first five. He stands at No. 20 on SOU’s career scoring list with 1,103 points, and teammate Jordan Hunt is at No. 17 (1,216).
- The Raiders are eighth on the NAIA DII leaderboard in defensive rebounds (30.4), grabbing nearly twice as many offensive boards as their opponents (11.2-to-6.8).
- Tez Allen is the CCC’s only player among the top-12 in average assists (3.7), blocks (0.8), rebounds (5.9) and steals (1.7).
- The Raiders have won 24 of their last 25 December home games. Overall this decade, they’ve gone 90-31 at home.
- Aaron Borich is 21-of-51 from 3, making the 11th-most triples per game (2.1) in the conference. He went 13-of-59 all of last season and has raised his scoring average from 3.8 to 10.0.
About Eastern Oregon
- The Mountaineers top the national leaderboard in scoring (103.4) and field-goal percentage (54.8) and have hit the century mark seven times. The numbers are slightly skewed by their non-conference competition, but their explosive offense features one of the NAIA’s premier guards in all-star Max McCullough (22.0 points, 4.9 assists) — who missed all of last season due to injury — and 7-foot center Jarek Schetzle (18.4 points, 9.5 rebounds).
- In their CCC openers at home, they blew out Multnomah, 118-88, and lost 83-74 against Warner Pacific. They were picked fifth in the CCC preseason poll.
- SOU is 103-87 in the all-time series, which dates back to 1930. Last season, the Mountaineers got their first win in Ashland since 2010-11.
About College Of Idaho
- Coming off back-to-back appearances in the national semifinals, the Yotes returned three starters from last season’s squad that was ultimately eliminated by Oregon Tech. All-American point guard Talon Pinckney (10.6 points, 5.3 assists) and All-CCC wing Nate Bruneel (14.8 points, 4.3 rebounds) lead the way, though their identity is rooted a zone defense that has been the circuit’s toughest to score against each of the past three seasons.
- They had no issues in their CCC openers, discarding Warner Pacific 72-63 and Multnomah 110-89.
- The Raiders are 25-53 all-time against the Yotes but have won four of the last five meetings in Ashland.