Game No. 22
UC San Diego Tritons (9-12, 5-11) vs. Chico State Wildcats (17-5, 11-5)
Friday, February 10, 2012 • 7:30 p.m.
RIMAC Arena (5,000) • La Jolla, Calif.
Game No. 23
UC San Diego Tritons vs. Cal State Stanislaus Warriors
Saturday, February 11, 2012 • 7:30 p.m.
RIMAC Arena (5,000) • La Jolla, Calif.
First Things First
On the heels of two impressive victories last week, the UC San Diego men’s basketball team will play its final two home games of the regular season, looking to gain ground in the California Collegiate Athletic Association standings. The Tritons will host league-leading Chico State on Friday night, before welcoming Cal State Stanislaus to town on Saturday. Both games will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. and air live on ESPN Radio 1700 in San Diego. Craig Elsten will call the action live from RIMAC Arena on Friday, while Jack Cronin will fill in on play-by-play on Saturday.
UCSD enters Friday’s showdown with Chico State with an overall record of 9-12 and a 5-11 mark in CCAA play after picking up a pair of huge home wins last week. The Tritons pulled out a 57-56 victory over Cal State L.A. on Spirit Night on Friday and then survived a late Cal State Dominguez Hills rally for a 48-46 triumph over the Toros on Saturday. UCSD has now won four of its last seven games, but still sits in 10th place in the conference standings. The Tritons currently trail eighth place Cal State Stanislaus by three games with six to play, so they will have to fare well in these final two home games if they are going to make a run and claim at CCAA Tournament berth. UCSD is 6-4 in 10 home games this season, winning four of its last five in La Jolla.
Saturday will be Senior Night at RIMAC Arena as the Tritons will honor seniors Christian Hatch, Ryan Wheeler and Mike Meza prior to the game against Cal State Stanislaus. Hatch and Wheeler are both four-year letterwinners with the program, while Meza transferred to UCSD from Moorpark College prior to last season. All three have been major contributors for the Tritons in 2011-12.
Not For the Faint of Heart
Things have been incredibly suspenseful at RIMAC the last several weeks as UCSD’s previous six home games have all been decided by four points or less. Four of the six have had a final margin of just one point, including last Friday’s white-knuckle 57-56 victory over Cal State L.A. Things were just as tense on Saturday, as Cal State Dominguez Hills cut an 11-point deficit down to one with 14 seconds remaining, but the Tritons were able to hang on for the 48-46 victory. UCSD has a 5-3 record in games decided by five points or less this season, going 1-1 in games decided by a single point. If the Tritons can continue to find a way to win the close games, they should put themselves in great position to get back in the postseason hunt over the final three weeks.
UCSD played excellent defense last week, particularly against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Saturday. The Tritons held the Toros to just 32% shooting as the visitors finished a measly 18-of-56 from the field. That figure was the second-lowest percentage by a UCSD opponent this season. The Tritons, who currently rank fifth in the CCAA in scoring defense at 64.6, held the Toros to just 34 points until the game’s final two minutes.
UCSD Probable Starters - Notes
G - James McCann • So., 5-11, 165 - Scored in double figures in nine of the last 10 games.
G - MacKenzie McCullough • So., 6-4, 195 - Put in a career-high 16 points and grabbed five boards vs. CSUDH.
F - Mike Meza • Sr., 6-5, 220 - Finished with 15 points at Cal State Stanislaus on Jan. 6.
F - Justin Brue • Jr., 6-5, 215 - Shooting a career-high 45% from the field this season.
C -Christian Hatch • Sr., 6-8, 245 - Returned to the lineup last week after missing two games with a wrist injury.
Sophomore point guard James McCann continued his recent surge over the weekend, leading UCSD to a pair of hard fought wins over Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez Hills. He averaged a team-high 13.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists for the week, shooting a combined 61.5% from the field and 50% from the three-point line. In Friday win over the Golden Eagles, McCann finished with game-highs of 16 points and five assists, while also grabbing three rebounds. The Carlsbad native had another strong effort in the Tritons’ 48-46 victory over the Toros on Saturday, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and six assists. For the season, McCann is averaging 11.1 points and a team-high 4.0 assists per game. He is shooting just under 40% from the field and 33% from downtown.
Welcome to the Show
Sophomore guard MacKenzie McCullough had his best performance as a Triton against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Saturday, finishing with a career-high 16 points to help UCSD claim the 48-46 victory. He finished 5-of-10 from the field and 4-of-7 from downtown, shattering his previous scoring mark of nine points set on three previous occasions this season. In addition to leading all scorers in the game, the Sacramento native grabbed five rebounds and dished out two assists in 32 minutes. McCullough is averaging 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds on the season, but his averages have jumped to 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in the previous six games as a starter. He’s shooting 40% (22-55) over that span.
Scouting the Wildcats
Chico State comes to town with an overall record of 17-5 and an 11-5 mark in the CCAA after defeating Cal Poly Pomona and San Francisco State at home last week... The Wildcats recorded a 75-55 victory over the Broncos on Friday, before dispatching the Gators by a final margin of 61-44 on Saturday… Chico State has won six of its last seven games to move into a tie with three other teams atop the CCAA standings… Junior guard Damario Sims is the Wildcats’ leading scorer averaging 12.0 points per game, while sophomore forward Amir Carraway is putting up 10.4 points and a team-high 5.3 rebounds per night… CSUC is averaging 69.4 points per game offensively, while the defense is allowing just 58.3 on the other end… The Tritons trail the all-time series with the Wildcats 15-10 after losing a 66-56 decision in the first meeting of the year on Jan. 7 in Chico.
Scouting the Warriors
Cal State Stanislaus begins the week at 12-8 overall and 8-8 in conference play after going 1-1 against San Francisco State and Cal Poly Pomona last week… The Warriors are currently in eighth place in the CCAA standings… Senior forward Reggie Jones is the CCAA’s leading scorer at 18.9 points per game, but no other player is averaging more than 9.6… Jones is shooting 54% from the field and also hauling down a team-high 7.1 rebounds per night… CSUS is averaging 73.7 points offensively and allowing 70.2 defensively… UCSD and Cal State Stanislaus have split 32 previous meetings after the Warriors claimed the first matchup of the year, 78-72, in overtime on Jan. 6 in Turlock.
UCSD shot the ball well from the three-point line last week, dropping 13-of-31 from behind the arc against Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez Hills, 42%… The Tritons have made at least five threes in four of their last five games… UCSD ranks fifth in the CCAA in three-point field goal percentage at 35% for the season… The Tritons shot 48% and 42% from the field against Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez last week after shooting 27% and 25% in losses to Cal Poly Pomona and San Francisco State the week before… UCSD is shooting 42.5% from the field overall this season, a figure that ranks eighth in the CCAA… After facing Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus this week, the Tritons will play four straight on the road to conclude the regular season.
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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