When the Southern Oregon University men's basketball team's 11-game win streak ended on Dec. 21 at College of Idaho, no grand revelations were elicited. Just an old lesson.
"It's really hard to win on the road no matter where you go," SOU coach Brian McDermott said, "and I think we're seeing that everywhere the way people are getting beat right now."
In that case, welcome home. The second-ranked Raiders (14-2 overall) will work on their 3-1 Cascade Conference record this weekend at Bob Riehm Arena, getting visits from Luke Jackson's first-place Northwest Christian Beacons (9-4, 3-0) on Friday and the Corban Warriors (6-6, 2-1) on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. both nights.
Pay-per-view streams of the games will be available in standard definition and HD at the SOU Athletics Portal, and kids 12-and-under will get in free thanks to Oak Tree Northwest.
The Beacons and Warriors have so far been enjoying the fruits of their own home floors. Both defeated Evergreen and upset 17th-ranked Northwest University in their last conference weekends, and Corban's only CCC loss was a 67-55 setback at Northwest Christian.
Under Jackson — the former University of Oregon great who had short bench stints on four NBA teams in as many seasons — the Beacons have been boosted by a trio of kickbacks from NCAA Division I schools who flocked when Jackson was hired following last season.
From University of Oregon, the Beacons got 6-foot-9 post Austin Kuemper (19.6 points, 9.5 rebounds) and 6-3 guard Coleton Baker (16.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists). Spencer Coleman (19.2 points, 9.8 rebounds) started 18 games last year as a junior at Montana but was dismissed from the team in June.
"There are a lot of new parts, so you kind of figured it was going to take them a little while to get it going, but they've improved as much as or more than anyone in the league so far," McDermott said of NCU. "Now they have their point guard back [Javonte Byrd, who has been eligible for three games] and they look like they have a good idea of what they want to do."
Eleven of the last 12 contests between SOU and NCU have been decided by 10 points or less.
and the one that didn't went to overtime. SOU has won the last four in the series but prior to that lost nine of 10.
Corban is similarly new, but went a different direction to acquire its talent: seven of 12 players on the active roster are freshmen. Junior guard Jordan Carter, who missed most of last year with an injury, leads the way with 16.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists; Cyrus Ward posts 14.9 points and 8.1 rebounds; and Caleb Herzberg, averaging 14.6 points, is shooting 53.2 percent (42-for-79) from 3-point range.
As a team, the Warriors are shooting an impressive 48.5 percent from the field and 34.6 from 3.
"They're really, really young, but they've surprised me. I like a lot of their guys," McDermott said. "They're going to zone you for 40 minutes, they can get out in transition and they have some shooters. The thing I like about them is they get out and run hard, but if they don't have a shot they'll take 30 seconds off the clock."
The Raiders have won nine of their last 12 against Corban and swept the series last year.
On Monday, they avoided their first losing streak with a 70-58 nonleague win at William Jessup behind David Sturner's 18 points and 12 rebounds (his 11th double-double) and Eric Thompson's 18 points and nine boards.
"I don't think we were exceptionally sharp, but, kind of like we've been, we got big shots and big plays when we needed them," McDermott said.
That inside combination has remained potent in CCC play, where Thompson is averaging 20.3 points and 9.3 rebounds, and Sturner is averaging 14.5 points and 9.0 rebounds. Jeff Bush (11.3 points), Kyle Tedder (10.8) and Tim Weber (8.3) are picking up the slack in the backcourt, and the Raiders still lead the country in assists per game (22.3) and are ninth in field-goal percentage (51.5).