Southern Utah (10-13) at Portland State (5-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 10:35 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stott Center (1,500) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: None. Home Record: Southern Utah 8-3, Portland State 5-4. Away Record: Southern Utah 2-8, Portland State 0-12. Neutral Record: Southern Utah 0-2, Portland State 0-0. Conference Record: Southern Utah 8-6, Portland State 3-11. Series Record: Tied, 1-1.
GAMES NOTES: In a Big Sky Conference conflict on Thursday night the Southern Utah Thunderbirds will visit the Portland State Vikings at the Stott Center.
Southern Utah had been rolling along before a 75-58 humbling loss at the hands of Weber State last Saturday. The Thunderbirds had won five straight games before that setback and pulled themselves back into contention near the top of the Big Sky standings. Though the chance of the Thunderbirds catching Montana and Weber State is remote, they are currently third among Big Sky teams. Overall Southern Utah is 10-13 overall and 8-6 in conference action. In the final contest of the current four-game road trip the Thunderbirds tangle with Eastern Washington.
Portland State didn't have a winning streak riding into its last outing but still fell, 77-71 to Sacramento State. The setback was the eighth straight for the Vikings who are a miserable 5-16 overall and 3-11 in league action. With that record the Vikings are tied with Idaho State for last place in the Big Sky standings. Portland State has managed to fight to a 5-4 record at the Stott Center where it will be for their next four games following this bout.
These teams met as conference foes for the first time earlier this season when Southern Utah posted a 76-63 victory. The triumph evened the all-time series at one win apiece.
In its loss to Weber State, Southern Utah didn't shoot well in either half but really struggled in the final 20 minutes. The Thunderbirds collected only six field goals on 25 percent shooting in the second period. Southern Utah was also outscored 33-9 from beyond the arc in the contest.
Jackson Stevenett (17.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Damon Heuir (16.9 ppg) still managed big efforts against Weber State but yet again failed to get much of a contribution from their supporting cast. Stevenett scored 24 points and Heuir added 18 in the losing effort. Stevenett and Heuir are the highest-scoring duo in the Big Sky, ranking second and third respectively as individual scorers. No other player is scoring more than seven points per game for the Thunderbirds who are putting up a mediocre 67.2 points per game on 42.1 percent shooting, while leading the conference in rebounding (38.1 pg).
A 17-2 run midway though the second half gave Portland State a 51-46 lead with 10:20 remaining against Sacramento State. However the Vikings weren't able to hold on as the Hornets went on a 10-0 run in the final two minutes to pull away for good.
For the season, Portland State is near the middle of the conference in terms of offensive production. The Vikings rank sixth in points (67.6 ppg) and fourth in field-goal percentage (.453). Defense is another matter as Portland State is one of the worst teams in the conference by allowing 72.3 points per game on an incredible 49.3 percent shooting. When teams do miss the Vikings haven't been able to benefit as they are the second worst rebounding team in the conference (30.6 pg). Aaron Moore (12.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) leads four players in double figures. Renado Parker (11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Lateef McMullan (10.4 ppg) and Michael Harthun (10.0 ppg) round out the Vikings' primary scorers.
With Stevenett and Heuir on the floor, Southern Utah has a major edge on the offensive end. Look for the Thunderbirds to push that advantage to a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Utah 74, Portland State 64
02/14 10:31:37 ET