Game No. 20
UC San Diego Tritons (7-12, 3-11) vs. Cal State L.A. Golden Eagles (13-5, 9-5)
Friday, February 3, 2012 • 7:30 p.m.
RIMAC Arena (5,000) • La Jolla, Calif.
Game No. 21
UC San Diego Tritons vs. Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros
Saturday, February 4, 2012 • 7:30 p.m.
RIMAC Arena (5,000) • La Jolla, Calif.
After suffering a pair of tough losses on the road over the weekend, the UC San Diego men's basketball team returns to La Jolla for its final four home games of the regular season. The Tritons will begin the home stand against two of the top four teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Association with fourth place Cal State L.A. paying a visit to RIMAC Arena on Friday and first place Cal State Dominguez Hills coming to town on Saturday. Both games will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. and air live on ESPN Radio 1700 in San Diego, with Craig Elsten calling the action and Jack Cronin handling the color commentary duties. Friday will also be "Spirit Night" at RIMAC, which is the culmination of UC San Diego's annual spirit competition between the six prestigious colleges on campus. For more on Spirit Night, click here.
On the Record
UCSD enters Friday's clash with Cal State L.A. with an overall record of 7-12 and a 3-11 mark in CCAA play after losing to Cal Poly Pomona and San Francisco State last week. The Tritons dropped a 58-50 decision with the league-leading Broncos on Thursday and then suffered a 56-45 setback at the hands of the Gators on Saturday. UCSD has lost three straight after winning two in a row in mid-January. The Tritons currently finds themselves in 10th place in the conference standings, four games behind eighth place Cal State Stanislaus with eight games remaining. The top eight teams in the conference will earn a berth in next month's CCAA Championship Tournament. UCSD is 4-4 in eight home games this season, winning two of its last three in front of the RIMAC faithful.
Offense Struggles in Setbacks to Pomona, SFSU
The Triton offense struggled to find its form against Cal Poly Pomona and San Francisco State last week. After shooting just 27% (13-47) in a 58-50 loss to Pomona on Thursday, UCSD was even worse against SFSU on Saturday, shooting a season-low 25% (14-56) and finishing with just 45 points in an 11-point defeat to the Gators. The Tritons had shot at least 31% from the field in each of their first 17 games this season, but finished well below that figure in back-to-back performances last week. After scoring 79 points on 50% shooting against Cal State East Bay on Jan. 13, UCSD's offense has been trending down in the five games since, averaging just 58.6 points on 36% shooting during that span. For the season, the Tritons rank ninth in the CCAA in scoring offense at just under 66 points per game. UCSD ranks 10th in the conference in field goal percentage at 42%.
Hatch, Peters Key Losses
UCSD was without two starters last week as senior center Christian Hatch and junior guard Ryan Peters missed both games with injuries. Hatch sat out for the third time in five games with a wrist injury, while Peters has missed the last four games with concussion-like symptoms. Considering that Hatch leads the Tritons in both scoring and rebounding this season and Peters is one of the team's top defenders, its easy to see how important those two guys are to what UCSD does on the court. After using the same starting lineup in the first 15 games of the season, head coach Chris Carlson has been forced to go with two different starting fives in the four games since.
UCSD Probable Starters - Notes
G - James McCann • So., 5-11, 165 - Averaging a team-high 15.1 points over the last eight games.
G - Tyler McGrath • Jr., 6-3, 175 - Leads UCSD with 35 three-pointers made through 19 games.
F - MacKenzie McCullough • So., 6-4, 195 - Averaging 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in four games as a starter.
F - Justin Brue • Jr., 6-5, 215 - Scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in loss to San Francisco State Saturday.
C - Ryan Wheeler • Sr., 6-10, 260 - Finished with a career-high nine points on 4-of-7 shooting vs. Sonoma State Jan. 20
Sophomore point guard James McCann has been playing his best basketball of the season the last few weeks, averaging 15.1 points and 4.8 assists over the Tritons' last eight games. He scored a career-high 22 points, while also tallying four rebounds and seven assists in UCSD's overtime loss to Cal State East Bay on Jan. 13 and finished with 19 points after hitting 4-of-5 from the three-point line in a win over Cal State Monterey Bay the following evening. The Carlsbad native continued to be the Tritons' top scoring threat last week, finishing with 15 points in the loss to Cal Poly Pomona and then scoring 14 two nights later at San Francisco State. For the season, McCann is averaging just under 11 points and a team-high 3.9 assists per game. He is shooting 38% from the field and 32% from downtown.
Meet Mr. McGrath
Junior guard Tyler McGrath had a strong performance in a losing effort against Cal Poly Pomona last week, finishing with a team-high 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes of work. He went 3-of-8 from the floor, including 2-of-6 from downtown, and sank all nine of his free throws to finish in double figures for the ninth time in 2011-12. On the season, McGrath is averaging 10.7 points on 37% shooting, while also hauling down 4.6 rebounds and dishing out 1.5 assists. He leads the team with 35 threes, converting 36% from behind the arc. McGrath's best game of the season came on Jan. 6 when he scored a career-high 19 points and snared five rebounds in a 78-72 overtime loss at Cal State Stanislaus.
Scouting the Golden Eagles
Cal State L.A. comes to town with an overall record of 13-5 and a 9-5 mark in the CCAA after knocking off Cal State East Bay and Cal State Monterey Bay at home last week... The Golden Eagles posted a 78-71 victory over the Pioneers on Friday, before turning back the Otters by a final margin of 75-56 on Saturday... CSULA has won four of its last six overall... Sophomore guard Quinton Watkins lead three players scoring in double figures for the Golden Eagles at 12.0 points per game... Senior forward Leland Jones is not far behind, averaging 10.5 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds... CSULA is currently averaging 68.9 points per game offensively, while the defense is allowing 57.9 on the other end... UCSD holds a slim 13-12 lead in the all-time series with Cal State L.A. after losing the first meeting of the year, 49-41, on Dec. 3 in Los Angeles.
Scouting the Toros
Cal State Dominguez Hills begins the week at 11-5 overall and 10-4 in conference play after defeating Cal State Monterey Bay (75-57) and Cal State East Bay (64-58) last week... The Toros have won four straight to move into a tie with Cal Poly Pomona atop the CCAA standings... Senior guard Wayne Andrews is the team's leading scorer at 11.5 points per game, while also bringing down 5.2 rebounds per night... CSUDH is scoring a league-low 62.3 points per game offensively, while the Toro defense is holding the opposition to just 58.6 points per night... UCSD holds a slim 17-16 edge in the all-time series with Cal State Dominguez Hills after suffering a 63-53 defeat at the hands of the Toros in the first meeting of the year back in December.
UCSD's current three-game skid is its second-longest losing streak of the season... The Tritons lost four in a row from Dec. 30-Jan. 13... UCSD dropped to 1-7 on the road this season with the losses to Cal Poly Pomona and San Francisco State last week... Four of the Tritons' five regular starters are scoring in double figures for the season... UCSD ranks fifth in the CCAA in scoring defense, holding the opposition to 66.1 points per game... The Tritons have held their previous four opponents under that average... After entertaining Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez Hills this week, UCSD will take on Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus at home next week... The Tritons lost to both squads earlier this season.
UCSD Games to Air on ESPN 1700 in 2011-12
In November, the UC San Diego Athletics Department 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, 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.
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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