North Dakota (12-15) at Portland State (8-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 10:35 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Peter W. Stott Center (1,500) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: None. Home Record: UND 8-5, PSU 8-4. Away Record: UND 4-10, PSU 0-12. Neutral Record: UND 0-0, PSU 0-0. Conference Record: UND 9-8, PSU 5-11. Series Record: North Dakota leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: Back to the business of Big Sky Conference basketball, North Dakota makes a stop in Oregon to do battle with the Portland State Vikings at the Stott Center on Thursday night.
North Dakota may be one of the newest additions to the league, but it sure hasn't played that way, currently sitting third in the standings behind only Montana and Weber State with a record of 9-8. Last weekend, UND took a break from the monotony of conference play to challenge Nebraska Omaha and unfortunately came up short in an 83-75 final, which means the group has now alternated wins and loses over the last six games.
As for the Vikings, they are at the other end of the standings with just five wins in 16 chances, settling in just above last-place Idaho State entering play on Thursday night. However, there has been some positive play for PSU of late, the team winning three straight games thanks to a 66-58 victory over UC Riverside in non-conference play last Saturday.
North Dakota's 85-76 win at home in Grand Forks last month boosted the team's advantage in the all-time series with the Vikings to 3-0.
Locked at 41-41 at the break against Omaha over the weekend, North Dakota then shot just 35.1 percent from the floor in the second half while allowing the hosts to connect on 50 percent and take the win. Troy Huff, who shot only 2- of-7 at the free-throw line, the team 9-of-19, finished with a game-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Aaron Anderson contributed another 19 points and five dishes for the squad as well.
Scoring 18.7 ppg this season, Huff has boosted his efforts against league members to 19.3 ppg, adding 7.3 rpg in those Big Sky battles. Anderson, who leads the team in assists over 27 starts with 91, has also seen his scoring average increase from 13.9 ppg against all opponents to 15.2 ppg versus league foes, thanks in part to his 42.9 percent accuracy behind the 3-point line in those 17 conference bouts.
PSU trailed by as many as eight points in the second half, but the team put together a 16-0 scoring run in order to assume control and eventually take the eight-point win over UC Riverside last Saturday afternoon. Aaron Moore stepped up with 13 points and a team-best nine rebounds, while Michael Harthun knocked down 3-of-4 shots from beyond the arc in order to come up with a team-best 15 points. Gary Winston tacked on 10 points as the squad outscored the Highlanders by an 18-8 margin at the free-throw line.
As was the case with UND, the Vikings have also seen a scoring increase when it comes to conference games and that goes for Moore as well who is shooting 54.4 percent from the field en route to 15.1 ppg. Responsible for 7.5 rpg, Moore has given the team enough of a lift in the paint in order to give them a rebounding advantage of 1.5 rpg versus league opponents. Renado Parker (12.0 ppg) is also not afraid to get physical in the paint, resulting in another 6.2 rpg, but no one else is pulling down even 3.0 rpg at this point in time.
UND's record on the road this season hasn't been all that spectacular, but the team needs to put some distance between itself and the rest of the pack in the Big Sky so winning this game is crucial.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota 72, Portland State 64
02/28 10:33:51 ET