Perhaps beginning a new Thanksgiving tradition, the 23rd-ranked Southern Oregon men's basketball team will host archrival No. 2 Oregon Tech in a nonconference game at 7:30 tonight at Bob Riehm Arena prior to hosting the annual Flagship Inn Classic on Friday and Saturday.
Southern Oregon improved to 4-2 with a pair of wins last weekend at Klamath Falls' Midland Empire Insurance Classic, knocking off Holy Names and William Jessup.
Now the Raiders face likely their toughest challenge against the defending NAIA champion Owls, hosting their rival in the first home game of the year.
"It's quite a way to open the home season, going against Oregon Tech," SOU head coach Brian McDermott said. "We had a chance to watch them this weekend a few times, and they're very good again. Probably a little bit better than what we'd thought or what we'd hoped, but they're a very good basketball team and they know how to play."
Oregon Tech is 6-1 overall this season, with the Owls' lone loss a 69-59 defeat to California Maritime on Nov. 10. Mihajlo Matic leads the team in scoring, averaging 17.0 points per game, while Josh Wiseman has added 13.0 points and David Clarke has tallied 11.2.
"That will be a really good test of where we're at, and it will come 10 or 12 days before we start the conference season," McDermott said. "It's a big game in that it's fun for our players and it should be a good atmosphere. In terms of the grand scheme of things, it will tell us more things about where we need to go and how we need to get better."
Southern Oregon bounced back from a pair of tough losses in Florida to shoot better than 50 percent in both wins last weekend.
Eric Thompson was named Cascade Collegiate Conference player of the week Monday after making 15 of 23 shot attempts over the weekend to average 21 points and 7.5 rebounds.
David Sturner is now averaging 14 points and a team-best seven rebounds per game, and Kyle Tedder has added 12.8 points per contest.
"We had a better weekend in the tournament at OIT; we played much better offensively," McDermott said. "But we're going to have to continue to get better, especially now that we're getting close to the meat of the season."
Following tonight's game, the Raiders will host its annual tournament this weekend, with Oregon Tech, New Hope Christian and Lewis-Clark State coming to town.
Oregon Tech will play Lewis-Clark State on Friday and New Hope on Saturday, with both games tipping off at 5:30 p.m. The Raiders will follow at 7:30 both nights, hosting New Hope on Friday and L-C State on Saturday.
"It's our last chance to see how much improvement we can make before we get that last week of practice before we open up the conference," McDermott said.
Southern Oregon's Melissa Sweat was named Cascade Collegiate Conference player of the week.
Sweat earned the honor for the second time in three weeks after continuing her dominant early-season play in four games last week.
The junior totaled 50 points on 17 of 22 shooting in a pair of wins at the weekend Midland Empire Insurance Classic in Klamath Falls. In two other games, she scored 11 and three points in limited action during blowout wins.
For the week, she connected on 75 percent of her shots (21 of 28), including 5 of 8 from 3-point range.