Portland (1-0) at Oregon St. (0-1) / Gill Coliseum / 6 PM PST / Pac-12 Channel / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. hosts neighboring Portland for a far too uncommon contest, at least recently. Though they have met 67 times, this is the first time in 6 years that the Pilots and Beavers have played, after meeting annually from 2001 through 2007. The regional teams such as those in the West Coast Conference should be a fixture on the Oregon St. schedule instead of MEAC foes.
The Beavers get the services of forward Devon Collier back tonight. Collier served a suspension for a violation of unspecified team rules during Oregon St.'s 2 pre-season exhibition wins, and extending through Sunday night's 78-73 regular season opening loss to Coppin St.
Absent Collier, most of the offensive load fell upon Roberto Nelson, who responded with a career high 36 points. But defensive deficiencies that led to the Eagles shooting 40% from beyond the 3 point line, making 10 of 25. It was the difference in the game.
The Pilots opened their season with a 100-83 win over UC-Davis Friday night. Forward Kevin Bailey led Portland with a game high 29 points, on 10 of 17 shooting, as well as making 8 of 9 free throws. Ryan Nicholas was right behind, with 27 points, on an 8 of 12 night, plus another 8 of 9 free throw line effort. Both were career highs.
Overall, Portland shot 51% from the field against the Aggies, and though they were only 6 of 16 on 3 pointers, the Pilots were 30 of 37, 81%, from the free throw line.
With the stated increased emphasis on scoring and limiting physical defense by the officials this season, it will be important for Oregon St. to not put Portland on the line a lot.
Portland heads to East Lansing next Monday to take on probably soon to be top ranked Michigan St., after the second ranked Spartans beat #1 ranked Kentucky last night.
The Pilots went 11-21 last year, and 4-12 in the very competitive West Coast Conference, tied for 7th place. The WCC is overall off to a fast start, with the entire conference still undefeated, and all but 3 teams have played more than 1 game.
The key to the game will be how well Collier is able to get back into game mode, which will probably determine if the Pilots are able to come away with a win over their neighbors.