Pacific (9-3) at Portland (8-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 2, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chiles Center (4,852) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: ROOT-NW. Home Record: Pacific 4-1, Portland 5-4. Away Record: Pacific 2-1, Portland 1-2. Neutral Record: Pacific 3-1, Portland 2-0. Conference Record: Pacific 0-1, Portland 0-2. Series Record: Pacific leads, 20-8.
GAME NOTES: Portland continues its five-game West Coast Conference homestand on Thursday when the Pilots battle the Pacific Tigers.
The Pilots have dropped their first two WCC contests, including Monday's 76-68 defeat to Santa Clara. Thomas van der Mars led all scorers with 23 points for the Pilots, while Kevin Bailey added 19 points and Ryan Nicholas posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Portland's perimeter defense was not up to the task as Santa Clara made 12-of-23 from beyond the arc.
Bailey (17.7 ppg) paces Portland in scoring, while van der Mars (13.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg) ranks second. Nicholas (12.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg) is a strong interior force, leading the WCC on the glass. Alec Wintering (8.1 ppg) and Bryce Pressley (7.4 ppg) are also part of the starting lineup for a team that averages 79.9 ppg, which is actually third-best in this high-paced offensive conference behind BYU and Gonzaga. The Pilots have the worst defense in the WCC however, as far as the 3-point line is considered as teams are shooting 40.7 percent from beyond the arc.
The Tigers are coming off an 88-80 home loss to the Saint Mary's Gaels in their WCC opener Monday. Andrew Bock paced all scorers with 23 points on 7- of-13 from the field and 8-of-8 from the foul line. Sama Taku poured in 17 points, Ross Rivera netted 10 and Tony Gill hauled in 12 rebounds.
Pacific, which has dropped two of its last three games, has a well-balanced offensive attack. It's one which first-year head coach Ron Verlin hopes can carry his team to success in Pacific's first season back in the WCC. The Tigers, who last season won the Big West Conference Tournament title and made an NCAA Tournament appearance, are starting a rough two-game road trip. They will take on No. 24 Gonzaga Saturday night. Bock (12.6 ppg), Taku (11.8 ppg) and Tony Gill (11.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg) are all part of the starting lineup, while Rivera (10.0) ppg has come off the bench each game. Senior forward Khalil Kelley (8.4 ppg) leads the WCC by making 64.9 percent of his shots from the floor. T.J. Wallace, a reserve freshman guard, is making a WCC-best 48.5 percent of his 3-point shots, while Bock (.918) is leading the conference in free-throw percentage.
The last time these teams met was March 18, 2009 when the Tigers claimed an 82-76 win in first-round action of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Pacific has won the last three meetings. Portland's last victory in this series was Nov. 24, 1984. Expect a tight finish, but if the Pilots don't step up their defense on the perimeter it could mean an 0-3 start in the conference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pacific 82, Portland 77
01/02 10:32:03 ET