Saddleback College will play Cypress in an early first-place showdown tonight at 7:30 in an Orange Empire Conference men's basketball game at Cypress.
Cypress (20-5, 3-0) is ranked fifth in the state and Saddleback (15-6, 3-0) eighth. The teams were picked as favorites to win the conference title.
Cypress starts five returning sophomores, including forwards Jeff Green (15.5 points a game) and Kris Brodowski (13.6). Sophomore guard Jim Sammon is averaging 13.6 points.
Vincent Smalls, a sophomore forward, leads Saddleback with an average of 15.2 points a game, and freshman guard Joe Hudson is averaging 11.1.
Cypress opened the season with 9 consecutive victories and is 11-5 in the last 16 games. Saddleback opened 6-6, but has 9 straight victories.
In other Orange Empire games at 7:30 p.m.: Riverside (11-13, 1-2) is at Orange Coast (13-12, 0-3), and Citrus (5-16, 0-3) is at Rancho Santiago (17-6, 2-1).
In the South Coast Conference at 7:30 p.m.: Golden West (12-10, 2-4) is at Fullerton (14-8, 4-2), which has won four straight and is ranked 19th in the state. It is the first time Fullerton has been in the top 20 this season.