FACTS & STATS: Site: Centrum Arena (5,300) -- Cedar City, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: Portland State 5-2. Southern Utah 4-3. Away Record: Portland State 0-8, Southern Utah 1-6. Neutral Record: Portland State 0-0, Southern Utah 0-2. Conference Record: Portland State 3-5, Southern Utah 3-5. Series Record: Portland State leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: The Southern Utah Thunderbirds will kick off a four-game homestand on Thursday with hopes of ending a five-game losing streak when the Portland State Vikings come to Centrum Arena for a Big Sky Conference matchup.
Portland State is riding a losing streak of just two games after an 85-76 loss to Northern Dakota in the second leg of this four-game road trip. The Vikings are nos just 5-10 overall but at 3-5 in league play find themselves in a six- way tie for fifth in the conference standings. The road has not been kind to Portland State which is winless in all five trips on the campaign. The Vikings wrap up this road trip on Monday against Eastern Washington.
On Monday Southern Utah was disposed of by Montana State (76-68), giving the Thunderbirds their fifth straight loss and dropping them to 5-12 overall. Southern Utah has not been overly successful at home this season at 4-3 at Centrum Arena including losses in each of its last two matchups there. The Thunderbirds are also among one of six teams tied for fifth in the league and will host Eastern Washington on Saturday.
Portland State allowed North Dakota to shoot better than 50 percent from the field, including an 8-of-16 effort from beyond the arc in its loss on Saturday. The Vikings managed to keep up with a 50 percent shooting effort of their own but a 22-12 deficit on points in the paint proved critical for North Dakota.
The Vikings are lucky enough to have four players scoring in double figures but unfortunately none has been particularly dominant. Renado Parker (11.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg) is the top scoring threat, but he is just barely ahead of Aaron Moore (11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Michael Harthun (11.2 ppg). Lateef McMullan (10.5 ppg, 3.7 apg) is another double-figure scoring threat but has been more important for his ball handling and distributing.
With 34 seconds remaining, Eastern Washington trailed just 71-68 to Montana State but form there the Eagles would miss their last three field-goal attempts to give up the contest. Damon Heuir (20 points) and Jackson Stevenett (19 points) had impressive scoring nights in the losing effort.
The Thunderbirds are the second-lowest scoring team in the conference (65 ppg) while ranking just eighth in field-goal percentage (.416). Where the Thunderbirds have found success is on the boards as they rank at the top of the Big Sky in rebounding (37.9 pg). Leading the way both in scoring and rebounding is Stevenett (15.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg), who is second in the conference in scoring and among the top 10 rebounders. Heuir (15.3 ppg) adds additional offensive firepower as the third-leading scorer in the Big Sky while Jayson Cheesman (7.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.4 bpg) patrols the interior as the lead shot blocker in the league.
The advantage that Southern Utah has inside could prove crucial in this contest. As long as Stevenett and Cheesman can dominate in the paint and on the boards the Thunderbirds have a real chance to snap their losing streak.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Utah 67, Portland State 63
01/24 10:35:53 ET
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