FACTS & STATS: Site: Sioux Center (3,300) -- Grand Forks, North Dakota. Television: Big Sky TV. Home Record: PSU 5-2, UND 5-3. Away Record: PSU 0-7, UND 1-7. Neutral Record: PSU 0-0, UND 0-0. Conference Record: PSU 3-4, UND 3-4. Series Record: Portland leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Portland State Vikings will try once again to secure their first road victory of the season, as they pay a visit to North Dakota in Big Sky Conference action at the Sioux Center.
Portland State's road woes (0-7) have been the biggest reason for its lackluster 5-9 record. The Vikings had been winners of back-to-back games against Sacramento State (87-69) and Northern Arizona (79-74) before they dropped a 67-50 decision at Northern Colorado on Thursday night to fall to 3-4 in conference.
North Dakota started its season off on a dreadful note, as it lost eight of its first 10 games, but things have been looking up of late. It has won back- to-back games and four of its last six, most recently downing Eastern Washington on Thursday (65-47), as it continues to inch closer to .500 in league play at 3-4.
These newly-formed conference rivals met just once previously, with Portland State winning way back in December of 1958, 78-49.
Portland State dug itself a 25-point hole at the half in its contest against Northern Colorado that it could never climb out of, as it finished the game shooting just 19-of-56 from the field (5-of-18 from 3-point range). The Vikings went without a double-digit scorer in the setback, with Aaron Moore putting up a team-high nine points but on only 4-of-12 shooting. They are typically much more potent at the offensive end of the court, shooting greater than 45 percent from the field for 67.2 ppg, but their issue comes on defense where they have difficulty stopping teams from filling up the basket (.486 FG percentage, 69.6 ppg). Renado Parker is Portland State's top scorer with 11.4 ppg, but he listed as questionable for this matchup with an ankle injury. If Parker is unable to go, the team will need to rely on a combination of Moore (10.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg), Michael Harthun (10.6 ppg) and Lateef McMullan (10.3 ppg, 3.8 apg) to pick up the slack.
North Dakota struggled from the floor in its latest matchup, making just 22- of-60 (.367), but it was able to pull away for the 18-point win by stifling EWU, forcing it into 16 turnovers and a dreadful 3-of-23 showing from 3-point range (.130). Troy Huff tallied a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and in the process he became the 32nd player in program history to register 1,000 career points. Aaron Anderson recorded 17 points, six assists and six rebounds, while Jamal Webb scored 11 points and logged five steals. Huff missed the first eight games of the season but since his return he's been one of the Big Sky's best players, posting 16.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Anderson makes greater than 86 percent of his free throws on his way to 13.8 ppg, while Webb (9.4 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.4 spg) and Schuler (9.1 ppg) are also consistent contributors to the team's guard-heavy starting lineup. As a team, North Dakota hasn't impressed at the offensive end of the floor, boasting just 65.6 ppg on 40 percent field goal shooting.
The Vikings have shown virtually no promise on the road this season, and North Dakota has looked like a new team since the return of Huff. With the home fans on its side, UND will prevail for its third straight win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota 68, Portland State 59
01/19 10:35:03 ET
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