North Texas (2-3) at Portland (3-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Chiles Center (4,852) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: None. Home Record: NT 2-0, UP 3-0. Away Record: NT 0-1, UP 0-2. Neutral Record: NT 0-2, UP 0-0. Conference Record: NT 0-0, UP 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Portland Pilots will try to complete the sweep of the field as they host the North Texas Mean Green in the final matchup of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Chiles Center.
The Mean Green's trip to the City of Roses has not gone too smoothly. After falling to Columbia, 70-66, on Thursday, North Texas suffered an 87-76 setback to Idaho. Coach Tony Benford's team is now 2-3 overall with only one of those wins coming over a Division I opponent. The Mean Green are posting 77.6 points per game on 41.6 percent shooting from the floor. They have hit on only 26- of-76 attempts from beyond the arc through five games. The opposition has been able to net 79.4 ppg on 45.7 percent shooting from the field against North Texas.
Portland entered the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic with a 1-2 record, but it now sits at 3-2 after back-to-back wins over Idaho (88-74) and Columbia (69-52). The Pilots began their campaign with a 17-point win over UC Davis before consecutive road losses to Oregon State (79-73) and Michigan State (82-67). Coach Eric Reveno's squad is now averaging 79.4 ppg on 46.1 percent shooting from the field. Although Portland has only shot 35.1 percent from 3-point range, it is hitting on 76 percent of its free-throw attempts.
This will be the first meeting in history between North Texas and Portland.
T.J. Taylor paced the Mean Green with 24 points and seven rebounds on Friday. Alzee Williams added 14 points and five rebounds. Defensively, NT had a very poor performance as it allowed the Vandals to shoot 50.0 percent from the field for the game while hitting 8- of-18 shots from long range. The Mean Green lost the game by 11 points after converting only 15-of-26 attempts from the charity stripe. Williams is leading the team on the season with 17.6 ppg. Taylor was playing in just his third game of the season. He has gone 10-of-12 from the floor so far and had just scored two points in his first two games before his breakout performance on Friday.
The Pilots impressed on the defensive end of the floor versus Columbia, which was limited to 29.5 percent shooting from the floor. Junior center Thomas van der Mars has been unstoppable in this tournament. After registering a double- double with 15 points and 12 boards against Idaho, van der Mars went 7-of-8 from the field to tally 14 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots against the Lions on Friday. Also scoring in double figures for the Pilots were Kevin Bailey and Ryan Nicholas with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Even with his strong showing over the past two games, van der Mars is the team's fourth leading scorer on the season at 10.2 ppg. Nicholas is leading the way with averages of 15.2 points and 7.8 boards per tilt.
The Pilots have been in the zone since returning to the Chiles Center. They will be challenged by North Texas, which has potential to make this a game if it breaks out of its shooting slump. However, the Mean Green have been too inconsistent and have yet to put together a solid performance for a full 40 minutes.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Portland 85, North Texas 75
11/23 10:34:12 ET