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Raiders kick off CCC action on road

ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon men's basketball team should have no qualms about leaving behind one of its most daunting nonleague slates in recent history. After establishing themselves, and taking a few lumps, against some of the NAIA's top competition, the Raiders will jump into the Cascade Conference race this weekend.

Including their exhibition at Oregon State, the Raiders saw six teams that qualified for their respective national tournaments last season and came out with a record of 6-4. The real work begins Friday and Saturday, when they'll travel to play the Corban Warriors (6-3) and the 13th-ranked Northwest Christian Beacons (6-1). Both games tip off at 7:30 p.m.

The Old Guard(s): SOU's backcourt of Ben DeSaulnier (16.7 points), Tristen Holmes (12.8) and Kenny Meyer (9.8) enters the weekend as the team's top three in scoring and assists. The production of DeSaulnier and Holmes, in particular, has proved to be a tipping point: In wins, DeSaulnier is averaging 20 points and Holmes is averaging 14.8; in losses, DeSaulnier is putting up 11.8 and Holmes 9.7.

Progress Report: SOU knew coming into the year that it would have to rely heavily on contributions from its eight freshmen, and through 10 games exactly half of its total minutes have been distributed to first-year players. They've responded ably to the challenge, combining for 33.1 points per game on 43-percent shooting and 20.6 rebounds.

Of note, Jordan Hunt, Tate Hoffman, Conor Carroll and Hunter Bradford (who has missed the last seven games with an injury) are all averaging between seven and nine points. Hunt leads the team in rebounds (6.6) and blocks (1.2), while Jason Simmrin leads the team in steals (1.2) and has averaged 5.8 points off the bench over SOU's last six games.