Portland State (11-12) at Idaho State (8-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 9th, 10:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Holt Arena (8,000) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: Portland St. 6-3, Idaho St. 5-5. Away Record: Portland St. 3-9, Idaho St. 3-10. Neutral Record: Portland St. 2-1, Idaho St. 0-0. Conference Record: Portland St. 5-6, Idaho St. 6-5. Series Record: Portland State leads, 26-15.
GAME NOTES: Two teams sitting in the middle of the pack in the Big Sky Conference square off at Holt Arena in Pocatello tonight, as the Portland State Vikings pay a visit to the Idaho State Bengals.
At 5-6 in conference, Portland State has beaten the teams equal to or below it in the standings, but has gone a combined 0-6 against Big Sky front-runners Weber State, Montana and Montana State. After losing three straight, the Vikings got back on track last weekend, defeating Northern Arizona in a 76-65 final.
Though Idaho State has just eight wins overall, six of them have come in conference play. The Bengals had won four in a row and five of their previous six before falling to first-place Montana on Monday night, 76-40.
Portland State holds a 26-15 advantage in the all-time series with Idaho State, and the Vikings have won two of the last three meetings, including an 80-68 triumph in the first matchup this season on January 16.
Portland State has been helped this year by an offense that ranks second in the Big Sky in scoring (76.5 ppg) and first in field goal percentage (.483), but has been hindered by an eighth-ranked defense that gives up nearly as many points (74.1 ppg). Despite its struggles at times, the Viking defense put together one of its best performances of the year in the last outing, holding Northern Arizona to 44.3 percent overall shooting while forcing 16 turnovers. It was business as usual for Portland State's offense in the win, as it shot 54.5 percent from the field, led by Charles Odum's 20-point effort. Odum has been one of the Big Sky's best scorers this season, ranking second in points per game (18.6), fifth in field goal percentage (.537) and third in free throw percentage (.847). Chehales Tapscott adds 13.8 ppg and leads the conference in rebounding (9.0 rpg), while Lateef McMullan and Michael Harthun contribute 9.7 and 9.3 ppg, respectively.
Idaho State has outplayed its statistical rankings thus far this season, as it averages just 65.1 ppg while giving up 72.7 ppg for a scoring margin that is second-worst in the Big Sky (-7.6). After a four-game win streak that saw the Bengals net 82 ppg, the offense came crashing back to Earth against Montana on Monday, shooting 24.6 percent from the field in logging 40 points, both season-lows, and no player registered double figures in the scoring column. The defense wasn't pretty either, allowing the Grizzlies to connect on 51.9 percent of their total shots. Chase Grabau leads the ISU offense with 13.3 ppg and he is one of the better field goal shooters in the league (.521). Kenny McGowen (12.9 ppg) and Melvin Morgan (11.3 ppg) also lend support, but both shoot less than 40 percent from the floor. Idaho State is the conference's worst team on the glass, pulling down 30 rpg with a rebounding margin of -4.0.
Idaho State has won its last three home games, but Portland State has been impressive on the road of late, winning three of its last four. The Vikings will carry its shooting momentum into tonight's game to take down the Bengals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Portland State 73, Idaho State 67
02/09 10:39:22 ET