Game No. 8
UC San Diego Tritons (3-4) vs. Dixie State Red Storm (4-2)
Sunday, December 11, 2011 • 1:00 p.m.
RIMAC Arena (5,000) • La Jolla, Calif.
First Things First
Following a pair of tough conference losses on the road Dec. 2-3, the UC San Diego men's basketball team will come home to face Dixie State College on Sunday in its only game of the week. The Tritons and Red Storm will square off at 1:00 p.m. at RIMAC Arena, with UCSD looking to knock off DSC for the second year in a row. Sunday's matchup will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1700 in San Diego with Craig Elsten calling the action.
On the Record
UCSD enters Sunday's clash with Dixie State with an overall record of 3-4 after falling to Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State L.A. to open California Collegiate Athletic Association play last weekend. The Tritons won three of their first four games to kick off the 2011-12 campaign, but have dropped their last three to fall to 0-3 in conference. Head coach Chris Carlson's squad will look to put an end to the skid against Dixie State on its home floor, where they are 0-1 this season after losing to Cal State San Bernardino on Nov. 22. The Tritons are 8-2 in nonconference play over the last two seasons.
Where Did the O Go?
After averaging 78.2 points on 47.5% shooting in their first five games of the season, the Tritons struggled to find their stride offensively against Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State L.A. last weekend. UCSD averaged just 47.0 points against the Toros and Golden Eagles, finishing a combined 36% from the field in the two losses. The Triton offense, which erupted for 102 points in a 28-point win over Chestnut Hill College to open the season, has been trending downward of late, putting up 63, 53 and 41 points in its last three games. The Tritons will have to be much sharper on the offensive end if they want to get past a Dixie State squad that is holding its opponents to just 61.2 points per game. UCSD is currently averaging 69.3 points per game for the season, a figure that ranks ninth in the CCAA.
One of the biggest barometers for UCSD's success this season has been rebounding. The Tritons enter Sunday's matchup with a 3-1 record when they out-rebound their opponent and an 0-3 mark when they don't. After winning the battle on the boards in each of its first four games, UCSD was outrebounded against Cal State San Bernardino (45-42), Cal State Dominguez Hills (36-31) and Cal State L.A. (39-31) and came up on the short end of the scoreboard in all three games. The Tritons are averaging 36.7 boards and own a rebounding margin of +6.1 through seven games, which both rank fifth in the CCAA.
While UCSD is currently mired in a three-game losing streak, its not for lack of consistency. Head coach Chris Carlson has gone with the same starting five in all seven games this season, giving the nod to James McCann, Tyler McGrath, Ryan Peters, Justin Brue and Christian Hatch. Four of those five were starters in 2010-11 as well, with only McGrath coming off the bench last season (Casey Ryan was the Tritons' fifth starter). UCSD's current starting five enters Sunday's game with a combined 175 career starts under its belt.
UCSD Probable Starters - Notes
G - James McCann • So., 5-11, 165 - Averaging 10.5 points and 2.5 assists in UCSD's last five games.
G - Tyler McGrath • Jr., 6-3, 175 - Finished with nine points and five rebounds in loss to Cal State L.A.
F - Justin Brue • Sr., 6-5, 215 - Shooting a career-high 51% from the field through eight games in 2011-12.
F - Ryan Peters • Jr., 6-4, 200 - Scored a season-high 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting against CSUSB on Nov. 22.
C - Christian Hatch • Sr., 6-8, 260 - UCSD's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 14.9 points and 8.1 boards.
Front and Center
Senior center Christian Hatch has put together a great start to the season, averaging team-highs of 14.9 points and 8.1 rebounds through seven games. The Henderson, Nev. native is shooting 49% (36-73) from the field and has led the Tritons in scoring four times in 2011-12. Defenses have been locking down on Hatch of late though, limiting UCSD's scoring leader to just 7.0 points on 38% shooting over the last three games. He finished with a season-low four points in the loss to Cal State Dominguez Hills on Dec. 2 and managed just six against Cal State L.A. the following night. Considering that he's averaging nearly 22 points in their three wins, the Tritons will definitely look to get Hatch going against Dixie State on Sunday.
Just Brue It
Junior forward Justin Brue has also had a solid start to the 2011-12 campaign, averaging 10.9 points and 6.6 boards in his first seven games. He is shooting a career-high 51% (28-55) from the field -- a figure that ranks second on the squad -- and also has team-highs of 16 assists and six blocks. The Hayward, Calif. native turned in a great performance in a losing effort against Cal State Dominguez Hills, finishing with a team-high 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while also tallying nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Brue finished 4-of-6 for eight points against Cal State L.A., snapping a streak of four consecutive games in double figures. He currently ranks second on the team in both scoring and rebounding.
Scouting the Red Storm
Dixie State comes to town with a 4-2 overall record after knocking off Notre Dame de Namur, 72-63, in its Pacific West Conference opener on Monday in St. George, Utah. The Red Storm have won four of their last five overall with the lone loss coming to Colorado State-Pueblo on Nov. 25... Senior forward Griffon Jones is DSC's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 11.3 points 5.5 boards through six games, while also shooting 54% (25-46) from the field... Senior guard Maurice Cole is another player to keep an eye on, putting up 9.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and a team-high 3.2 assists thus far...The Red Storm offense is averaging 65.0 points per game, while the defense has held opponents to 61.2 on the other end.
Last Time vs. Dixie State
UCSD is 1-0 all-time against Dixie State after defeating the Red Storm 65-57 at the Disney West Coast Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 13, 2010. Christian Hatch scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting and Casey Ryan finished 5-of-10 and put in 16 to lead the Tritons to victory in Anaheim. James McCann added 11 points and dished out five assists, while Tyler McGrath scored 10 points off the bench. The Tritons shot 43.5% (20-46) from the field, while limiting the Red Storm to 36% (16-44) on the other end. Griffon Jones was the only player to reach double figures for Dixie State, finishing with 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting. The Tritons jumped out to an early 14-6 lead and led by as many as 11 points in the game.
UCSD is averaging 86.7 points per game in its three victories and just 56.2 in its four losses...The Tritons have shot nearly 56% in their wins, while shooting at a 38% clip in their defeats... UCSD is averaging just over 14 turnovers per game during its three-game skid... The Tritons blocked a season-high five shots in the loss to Cal State Dominguez Hills on Dec. 2...Following Sunday's matchup with Dixie State, UCSD will resume CCAA play at Cal State San Bernardino on Dec. 19, before taking nine days off over the holidays... The Tritons will return to the court Dec. 29-30 to host San Francisco State and Cal Poly Pomona.
UCSD Games to Air on ESPN 1700 In 2011-12
The UC San Diego Athletics Department last month announced a partnership with ESPN Radio 1700 that will carry 16 Triton men's basketball games live locally during the 2011-12 season. ESPN 1700 will broadcast a total of 12 home games and four road contests this season, marking the first time UCSD basketball will air on terrestrial radio. Craig Elsten, who is in his third season as the voice of Triton basketball during UCSD's online broadcasts, will serve as play-by-play announcer, while Jack Cronin, Executive Producer at XX Sports 1090 and ESPN 1700, will handle the color commentary duties. Click here for more on UCSD's agreement with ESPN 1700.
UCSD Picked to Finish 10th in CCAA Standings
UC San Diego was was selected to finish 10th in the California Collegiate Athletic Association regular season standings, according to the league's annual preseason coaches poll that was released in October. UCSD, which finished 11th in the conference with a 6-16 record last season, received 32 points in the poll. Defending regular season champion Humboldt State was picked to win the 2011-12 CCAA title, receiving nine first place votes and a total of 119 points. Cal State San Bernardino collected 106 points and two first place votes to finish second, while Cal State Dominguez Hills was third after garnering 90 points and the remaining first place vote. Cal Poly Pomona tallied 89 points to finish fourth, followed by Cal State L.A. (77), Cal State Stanislaus (74), Chico State (70), Sonoma State (53) and San Francisco State (47) in fifth through ninth places, respectively.
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