Portland (7-9) at Pepperdine (8-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Firestone Fieldhouse (8,000) -- Malibu, California. Television: None. Home Record: Portland 6-2, Pepperdine 4-2. Away Record: Portland 0-6, Pepperdine 3-4. Neutral Record: Portland 1-1, Pepperdine 1-0. Conference Record: Portland 0-1, Pepperdine 0-1. Series Record: Pepperdine leads, 54-32.
GAMES NOTES: With each team unable to secure a victory in their conference opener the Portland Pilots and Pepperdine Waves will look to bounce back when they face off in West Coast Conference play at Firestone Fieldhouse Saturday night.
The Pilots may have lost more than the league opener in the past week after a 61-50 defeat to San Diego. Starting guard Kevin Bailey suffered a broken nose and has missed the last two games. He is listed as questionable for this matchup. That's bad new for Portland which is winless in six road contests this season and just 7-9 overall after losing for the third time in the last four games. Portland will finish off its current three-game road trip next Saturday against Loyola Marymount.
Pepperdine didn't lose a player but still lost the game when it hosted No. 10 Gonzaga on Thursday and wound up on the losing end of a 78-62 decision. The loss dropped the Waves to 8-6 overall, including a 4-2 mark in games at Firestone Fieldhouse. The loss was the third in five games for Pepperdine which will take a step out to face BYU in its next time out.
The Waves have largely had the upper hand in this matchup with a 54-32 record all-time against Portland. Last season the two teams split the season series, although Portland has won seven of the last nine meetings.
Poor shooting from just about everywhere on the floor doomed Portland against San Diego. The Pilots hit just 35.3 percent of their shots, including a paltry 2-of-15 effort from beyond the arc. Without Bailey the team managed just six assists and turned the ball over 14 times.
Losing Bailey (11.9 ppg) who is the second leading scorer on the roster and one of just two players scoring more than seven points per game is obviously bad news for the Pilots. That is especially true considering how much they have struggled to score, ranking ninth in the conference in both points per game (62.3) and field goal percentage (.416). Portland has managed to keep teams within striking distance by limiting opponents to 65.7 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting. If Bailey continues to sit, the pressure to carry the offense falls on the shoulders of forward Ryan Nicholas (13.5 ppg, 9.6 rpg) and center Thomas van der Mars (6.8 ppg). Nicholas has already exhibited an ability to score well and van der Mars scored in double figures for the first time in five games against San Diego.
Pepperdine couldn't use the excuse of a key missing piece against Gonzaga as the Waves were just thoroughly outplayed by the nationally ranked Bulldogs. Points from the free throw line were a major storyline as the Bulldogs outscored the Waves 25-12 in the contest, while also besting them from beyond the arc (21-6).
A trio of players are scoring in double figures for Pepperdine. The leader among them is Lorne Jackson (14.9 ppg). The 6-foot-2 guard has scored in double figures in every game this season but has not been as effective as he might like from beyond the arc where he shoots just 31.3 percent. Stacy Davis (11.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg) mans the interior and provides a consistent frontcourt option, while Jordan Baker (10.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.4 apg) has struggled with his shot, but contributes across the board. As a team the Waves are scoring just 64.8 points per game despite clocking in with the third best field goal percentage (.456) in the WCC. On the defensive end the Waves are letting up only 64.6 points per game, while stifling teams to just 39.6 percent shooting.
Without Bailey the Pilots' backcourt and overall offensive production is severely limited. Pepperdine should be able to use that to its advantage at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pepperdine 70, Portland 62
01/05 10:31:30 ET