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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 4:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Peter W. Stott Center (1,500) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: Big Sky TV. Home Record: UCR 5-7, PSU 7-4. Away Record: UCR 1-11, PSU 0-12. Neutral Record: UCR 0-2, PSU 0-0. Conference Record: UCR 3-11, PSU 5-11. Series Record: Portland State leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Portland State Vikings look for their third win in a row as they host the UC Riverside Highlanders for a non-conference duel at the Peter W. Stott Center as part of the BracketBuster event.
UC Riverside is coming off of a 54-45 victory over UC Santa Barbara that snapped a seven-game losing slide and improved it to a 6-20 overall record. The Highlanders are still stuck at the bottom of the Big West Conference standings with a 3-11 mark in league action. Chris Patton is pacing the team with 12.7 points per game on 54.8 percent shooting from the field and Chris Harriel chips in 10.7 ppg. Josh Fox is another solid forward for the Highlanders with averages of 9.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per outing.
Although the Vikings are averaging 69.5 ppg on the season, they have been lighting up the scoreboard well beyond their average over the past two games. PSU completed a 90-69 rout of Southern Utah on Feb. 14 before outlasting Eastern Washington for an 89-80 decision on Monday. The team had previously picked up back-to-back wins on two separate occasions, but it was not able to extend the streak to three either time. PSU enters Saturday with a 7-16 overall record that includes its 5-11 performance against Big Sky foes. Aaron Moore (12.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Renado Parker (12.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg) are first and second, respectively, in the Vikings' scoring and rebounding columns.
This will be the fourth meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. PSU holds a 2-1 all-time series edge after its 69-58 victory over the Highlanders on Nov. 21, 2010 at the SMU Invitational.
The Highlanders went a combined 28-of-103 (27.2 percent) from the field in their two games prior to squaring off with the Gauchos on Wednesday. They turned it around against UCSB to connect on 41.6 percent of their field goal tries, while adding 20 more points at the free-throw line. Harriel netted 14 points to lead the way while Taylor Johns got into the mix with 11 points. Patton added 10 points for UC Riverside, which was coming off of a 75-35 loss to Long Beach State. The low-scoring output against the 49ers marked the fourth time this season that the Highlanders were held to 40 points or fewer.
Parker led a balanced effort that featured four Vikings in double figures with 20 points to help PSU down EWU its last time out. The Vikings managed to build a 43-31 lead by the intermission as they drained 66 percent of their shots from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. Michael Harthun scored 18 points while Moore tallied 17 points and eight boards. Gary Winston chimed in with 14 points as PSU kept its hopes of qualifying for the Big Sky Conference Tournament alive.
PSU is playing inspired basketball right now as it tries to avoid an early ending to its season. The Vikings will be looking to build some momentum before returning to Big Sky action, but they will be challenged by the Highlanders, who also appear to be headed in the right direction.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Portland State 76, UC Riverside 70
02/23 10:38:30 ET