Chico >> After this week’s games at Cal State San Marcos and UC San Diego, the Chico State men’s basketball team will be halfway through its California Collegiate Athletic Association slate.
Those two results will help inform what the Wildcats’ chances are to win a third CCAA title in four seasons.
The Wildcats (9-3) are 6-2 in the CCAA and one of four teams separated by one game in the race for the conference crown. They’ll play the other three teams over the next two weeks. The crucial stretch begins at Cal State San Marcos (5-1) on Friday and UC San Diego (5-2) on Saturday. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m.
The Wildcats will return home for three home games in a row, including a showdown with first-place Cal Poly Pomona on Jan. 13 in a rematch of a double-overtime defeat in Southern California on Dec. 1, 2017.
Chico State is coming off a loss to Cal State Dominguez Hills that snapped the Wildcats’ five-game win streak. The Wildcats rank fifth in the CCAA in scoring at 75 points per game, and second in scoring defense (65.6).
Cal State San Marcos has won four straight and nine of 10 to move to 10-2 overall. The Cougars are the highest-scoring team in the CCAA at 85.8 points per game and feature the conference’s top two scorers in Ethan Alvano (20.5 points per game) and Josh Spiers (16.7).
Friday’s meeting will be the fifth between the teams. Chico State won the first three before the Cougars’ 59-58 win last season in Acker Gym on Alvano’s off-balanced, game-winning 3.
UC San Diego and the Wildcats have accounted for the last three CCAA titles. Chico State had won two in a row before UCSD claimed the crown in 2017.
The Wildcats, though, won 95-86 over the Tritons in the West Regional final at UCSD’s RIMAC Arena for an Elite Eight berth. Isaiah Ellis had a career-high 34 points and 14 rebounds. Corey Silverstrom scored 19 of his 21 points in the last 10 minutes.
The teams have split their season series five years in a row. The Wildcats lead the all-time series 21-15.
The Wildcats have turned the calendar page and hope to begin the 2018 portion the way it ended 2017.
The Wildcats, winners of three straight and four of five, will be in Southern California to take on Cal State San Marcos on Friday and a Saturday showdown with conference-leading UC San Diego. Both games start at 5:30 p.m.
Chico State (7-5, 5-3 CCAA) is in fourth place in the conference. The Wildcats closed out 2017 with a pair of home victories, beating Cal State Los Angeles 64-55 and Cal State Dominguez Hills 74-57.
The Wildcats continue to have the CCAA’s top offense, averaging 72.3 points a game. Chico State is also tops among field-goal percentage (43.1 percent), 3-point percentage (37.1 percent), free-throw percentage (85.0 percent) and assists (17.6 a game).
Chico State ranks eighth in the CCAA in defense, allowing an average of 67.5 points per contest.
The Wildcats have also struggled on the road, winning once in six contests.
Cal State San Marcos (2-8, 2-4 CCAA) beat San Francisco State 82-68 on New Year’s Eve and took Stanislaus State to overtime in a 62-57 defeat on Dec. 29.
The Cougars are 2-1 at home and are averaging 64.5 points a game on offense this season, but like Chico State, have scuffled on defense, surrendering an average of 71.8 points.
San Marcos beat Chico State in each of the team’s two meetings last season. The Cougars lead the all-time series 3-1.
UC San Diego (11-2, 7-0 CCAA) starts the week with a seven-game winning streak. UC San Diego is 4-1 on its home floor and hosts Humboldt State on Friday.
Offensively, the Tritons trail only Chico State among the CCAA scoring leaders, averaging 70.9 points a game. UC San Diego also owns one of the best defenses in the conference, allowing 59.3.
The Tritons have won 16 of the last 19 with Chico State dating back to the 2008-09 season that includes a sweep last season. The last time the Wildcats won at RIMAC Arena was a 79-69 win on Dec. 1, 2006.
The games will be broadcast on KPAY 1290 AM and accessible via the KPAY Sports App and kpaysports.com. Links to the audio stream, streaming video, and live stats are available in the calendar section on the home page for ChicoWildcats.com and on the men’s and women’s basketball schedule pages.
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