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Oregon State Basketball: Opponent Preview - Portland Pilots (Game 5)

Oregon State will try and bounce back against Portland.

NCAA BASKETBALL: DEC 05 Texas Rio Grande Valley at Portland Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Portland Pilots (3-1)

  • Head Coach: Terry Porter (5th Season, Overall: 40–93)
  • Top Performer: Ahmed Ali (20.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG)
  • Points For: 78.8 PPG (T-105th)
  • Points Against: 74.8 PPG (204th)
  • Last Game/Streak: 86-73 Win vs. Portland State (3W)

The Skinny

A match-up of two teams trending in different directions, Oregon State has watched two games at the hands of both Washington State and Wyoming slip away from them by a combined 7 points, while Portland has won three straight after a season-opening defeat at the hands of Seattle.

Simply put, Thursday’s clash of these two squads has suddenly become a much-more intriguing contest than it was when it was originally scheduled before the season.

Portland’s gradual revamping under former NBA legend and head coach Terry Porter seems to finally be hitting it’s stride in the pandemic-affected 2020-2021 campaign, led by former Washington State guard Ahmed Ali (20.3 PPG), one of only two talents on the Pilots’ roster to be currently averaging double-figures in scoring.

The other half of that duo is forward Eddie Davis (11.3 PPG), a 6’ 6” swingman who has really hit his stride over the past two games for Portland. The rest of the Pilots roster is what you’d call a bit of a mixed bag and in some ways could be described as eerily similar to what Wyoming brought to the table.

To beat Portland, this game is going to be a heck of a lot more about Oregon State than it is going to be about the Pilots. The Beavers are entering a defining stretch for this team, hosting UT-San Antonio next week, before a string of Gill Coliseum tilts with guests from their neighbor state in USC, Santa Clara and Stanford close out the calendar year.

So far this season, Oregon State hasn’t necessarily played poorly, but it’s somehow become a habit under head coach Wayne Tinkle to let what would be described as winnable contests somehow go by the wayside. This team is playing hard. They’re giving solid effort. But winning is a habit and this group just hasn’t made it part of their DNA yet.

Player To Watch

Ahmed Ali (Senior - Guard)

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

In his return to the Pac-12 (after a short stop at Hawaii), high-scoring guard Ahmed Ali is having quite the career resurgence. Every bit of his 28 points were needed to hold off in-city rival Portland State and his ability to compete on the glass and get his teammates involved has really been the difference for a 3-1 Pilots squad. He was a forgettable reserve during his first go-round in Pullman. Now, he’s the star piece of a rising mid-major squad.

Game Info

  • Date: Thursday, December 10th
  • Time: 5:00 PM PT
  • Location: Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, Oregon)
  • Coverage: Pac-12 Networks