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Idaho State (1-7) at Portland State (2-5)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 20, 10:35 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Peter W. Stott Center (1,500) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: None. Home Record: Idaho State 1-0, Portland State 2-1. Away Record: Idaho State 0-5, Portland State 0-4. Neutral Record: Idaho State 0-2, Portland State 0-0. Conference Record: Idaho State 0-0, Portland State 0-0. Series Record: Portland State leads, 27-15.

GAMES NOTES: The Idaho State Bengals and Portland State Vikings will each hope that a move to Big Sky Conference play will spark a turnaround for the season when the two squads collide at the Stott Center on Thursday night.

A miserable season for Idaho State continued last Thursday when the Bengals fell on the road to Cal State Fullerton, 66-53. The setback moves the Bengals to a dismal 1-7 overall this season with the lone win coming against NAIA foe Montana Western. That single win came in the Bengals only home contest. Idaho State is 0-5 in true road games and must play two more games on the road, beginning against Eastern Washington, before playing five home contests in six games to begin the new year.

Portland State put an end to a lengthy losing streak of five games last Saturday. However the win came against Division III opponent George Fox. The Vikings are 2-5 overall with the other win also coming against a team below the Division I level,. Portland State beat Pacific (OR), 77-58, in the season opener. The Vikings have earned both of their wins at home where they will spend the next game as well, in a matchup with Weber State on Saturday.

Last season, Portland State swept the season series to increase its advantage all-time to 27-15 against Idaho State. The Vikings have won 12 of the last 15 meetings.

Idaho State was yet again doomed by a poor offensive showing in its loss to Cal State Fullerton. The Bengals managed to connect on only 37.8 percent of their shots from the field including 4-of-14 from beyond the arc. The Bengals also committed a game-high 17 turnovers and allowed the Titans to shoot at a 45.1 percent rate. Tomas Sanchez did a good job filling the stat sheet for the Bengals with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists.

To describe Idaho State as a weak offensive team would be an understatement this year. The Bengals are the lowest scoring team in the nation (49.6 ppg) and among the 20 worst teams in terms of field goal percentage (.376). The Bengals have been held below 50 points in five different games including a season-low 35 in a loss to Oregon. The Bengals are also one of the worst rebounding teams in the country, ranking ahead of only three other teams (26.8 pg). The Bengals have managed to keep opponents close at times by letting up 60.5 points per game on 43.0 percent shooting. Melvin Morgan (12.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.0 apg) contributes across the board and is the only player scoring in double figures for the Bengals. Like the rest of the team Morgan has been plagued by poor shooting though (34.3 FG percentage). Sanchez (9.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3..1 apg) and Chris Hansen (9.8 ppg) are other scoring options.

Portland State got a lot more than it might have expected in its matchup with George Fox as the Vikings were locked in a back-and-forth game through much of the first half. During that time the Vikings allowed the Bruins to nail 59.26 percent of their shots from the field. Portland State managed to keep the Bruins at bay by hitting 10 triples overall in the game while outscoring the Bruins 17-5 from the free throw line. The Vikings also forced twice as many turnovers (14) as they committed (7). Michael Harthun led four players in double figures with 16 points.

While no offensive juggernaut, Portland State has had some success on that end of the floor. The Vikings are turning in a 68.4 points per game performance while ranking second in the Big Sky in field goal percentage (.461). Where the Vikings can commiserate with the Bengals is on the boards where Portland State ranks among the 10 worst in the country (28.4 rpg). Portland State has also been porous on defense allowing teams to score 74.1 points per game on 49.0 percent shooting. Opponents are quite often able to get easy looks while assisting on a relatively high 17.1 field goals per game. The trio of Renado Parker (11.9 ppg), Harthun (11.0 ppg) and Dre Winston Jr. (10.6 ppg) have been averaging in double figures though none has shown much in terms of explosive offensive ability. Aaron Moore (8.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg) is a 6-foot-8 forward that mans the frontline and serves as the teams best rebounder.

Based on early returns it looks like both of these squads will be in for long seasons. Portland State has the better chance of turning things around with the superior offensive squad but will need to begin to slow teams down on the other end and control the boards more consistently. The Vikings can accomplish both against the Bengals.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Portland State 64, Idaho State 55

12/20 10:38:22 ET