GAME NOTES: A couple of teams that experienced defeat on the road in their respective season openers get together in Oregon on Thursday night, as the Portland Pilots face off against visiting Idaho State.
The Bengals, members of the Big Sky Conference, are coming off a dreadful campaign in 2011-12 when they won just nine of their 30 outings. The team was somewhat decent in league action with seven victories, but that means ISU was a mere 2-12 in non-conference play and failed to win against any non- conference opponent on the road.
Unfortunately, Idaho State tipped off this season in the same fashion as it bowed to Utah State in Logan last Saturday, 56-48.
As for the Pilots, they were even worse off than ISU a season ago when they posted a dismal 7-24 record. Like the Bengals, Portland also lost every road game outside of the West Coast Conference (0-7), and it too began 2012-13 in the same manner with an 81-52 blowout loss at Ohio University last weekend.
According to Portland's records, the Bengals own a slight edge in the all-time series at 10-9, although the Pilots have taken the last three meetings, the most recent being a 76-52 final at a neutral site during the 2007-08 campaign.
After making just nine field goals in the first half of their season opener at Utah State last Saturday, the Bengals probably thought they could only get better. And while the team did increase its output after the break, it made a total of just 10 field goals and a mere 1-of-4 at the free-throw line in a game that they could have captured were it not for that weak shooting effort. Melvin Morgan emerged as the lone double-digit scorer for ISU with 19 points, the only player to have made more than just a single free throw. Tomas Sanchez checked in with nine points, seven assists and four steals, while Andre Hatchett led the way on the glass with seven rebounds, but he shot just 1-of-8 from the floor and came up empty on all five of his three-point tries.
The Pilots appeared ready to reverse their fortunes on the road against non- conference opponents last Saturday when at the break they were tied with Ohio at 33-33. Unfortunately, the Bobcats made several corrections at both ends of the floor as they ended up sprinting to a 29-point win. Not only did Portland shoot just 7-of-27 (.259) from the field in the second half, but it also allowed the hosts to hit 61.5 percent from the floor during the same span. Ryan Nicholas tried to give the visitors a fighting chance with his 16 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 7-of-14 from the field, but he was the only one to score in double digits. Adding to the painful display was Portland's inefficiency at the free-throw line (14-of-24), lack of accuracy beyond the arc (4-of-14), and the fact that the squad had more turnovers (23) than field goals (17).
The fact that Idaho State didn't completely fold in the second half against USU in a rough environment means the team might be capable of picking up a rare non-conference road win this time around.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Idaho State 69, Portland 63
11/15 10:33:14 ET
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