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Raiders ready to take on pair of Division I teams

It's been two days since the Southern Oregon University men's basketballteam was blown out against Chico State by 34 points.

There will be no relief for the Raiders when they return to action tonight,no patsies to rout for the sake of soothing bruised egos.

Instead, Southern Oregon (1-1) is set to play a pair of even more powerfulfoes than the NCAA Division II Wildcats, who pounded the Raiders 101-67in Chico.

Southern Oregon, an NAIA school that went a dismal 2-29 a year ago, travelsto take on two NCAA Division I schools -- the University of Portland tonightand Utah State on Saturday.

Raiders coach Chris McDermott admits the games pack the potential fortwo more lopsided losses but says his team is excited about playing thebigger schools.

The kids like to have an opportunity to play against the best,he says. They want to see how they measure up.

If you are able to hang in and play well, you feel good about yourself.If you don't, you kind of realize the deck was stacked against you. It'ssort of a no-lose situation.

Even if the Raiders are routed in both games, Southern Oregon won't comehome empty handed.

The school will get $2,000 to $3,000 for playing Portland and about $6,000for taking on Utah State, SOU athletic director Monty Cartwright said. TheRaiders' travel expenses will be paid out of those funds with the remaindergoing into the athletics budget.

Cartwright points out that Southern Oregon has played Division I opponentsin several sports for years and says the payday isn't the sole motivationfor scheduling bigger schools.

That's just part of the reason, he says. It's a positivething for the program.

It allows us to run the program at a classier level, McDermottsays.

Southern Oregon last played University of Portland two seasons ago andlost 113-65. The Pilots are 1-0 this season.

Saturday's game in Logan will mark Southern Oregon's first battle withUtah State, which lost 65-55 to Florida State on Wednesday night in theNational Invitational Tournament.

Faced with a seemingly superior opponent, McDermott says Southern Oregonneeds to control the tempo and not be too concerned with the score.

I hope they go in with realistic expectations, he says. Youneed to go in knowing that skill levels are definitely different. There'sno question.

There are a few things you want to accomplish in gaining some measureof control in games.

McDermott points to last year's 65-51 loss to Portland State as evidencethat Southern Oregon can have some success controlling the tempo againsta Division I team.

We played Portland State last year and did that, he says.We were leading with eight minutes to go. But if you can't controlthe tempo, things can get out of hand.

Tuesday's loss to Chico State hasn't helped boost Southern Oregon's confidenceheaded into the Division I road trip.

It hurt a little bit, McDermott says. If we had playedwell, it would have been better.

Still, the second-year coach hopes the trip will be a positive for theRaiders.

You just concentrate on the good moments you do have, hesays. And you hope there are more good ones than bad ones.

But you get to play in a nice arena in front a good crowd. That'swhat people want to do. That's why they play college basketball.

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