Portland (7-8) at San Diego (7-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 3, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jenny Craig Pavilion (5,100) -- San Diego, California. Television: FSN-SD. Home Record: Portland 6-2, San Diego 6-2. Away Record: Portland 0-5, San Diego 1-4. Neutral Record: Portland 1-1, San Diego 0-2. Conference Record: Portland 0-0, San Diego 0-0. Series Record: San Diego leads, 43-27.
GAMES NOTES: A pair of teams with identical records will try to get some separation between themselves when the Portland Pilots battle the San Diego Toreros in the West Coast Conference opener for each team at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
The Pilots are stepping out on a three-game road trip beginning with this matchup. Portland lost its last game against Texas-Pan American to fall to 7-8 overall with its second loss in the last three games. The Pilots need to improve their efforts on the road quickly as they have lost all five away contests this season.
Also at 7-8 is San Diego which put an end to a three-game losing streak last time out against Morgan State with a narrow 66-63 victory. That game also came at Jenny Craig Pavilion where the Toreros have found the majority of their success this season with a record of 6-2. A two-game road trip awaits San Diego next beginning against San Francisco.
Last season the Toreros swept the season series to improve its all-time series lead to 43-27.
Portland allowed Texas-Pan American to nailed 62.5 percent of its shots, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc in the second half last Saturday. The weak defensive showing outweighed the 44-22 edge the Pilots had on the boards and the 32-14 advantage on points in the paint.
There are only two players on the roster for Portland scoring more than seven points per game. Ryan Nicholas (13.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg) is the lead option in that regard and is a threat to hang up a double-double just about every time out. Nicholas is also second in the WCC in rebounding and is joined in double figures by guard Kevin Bailey (11.9 ppg). The Pilots have managed to keep games competitive largely by holding teams to 66.0 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting. Portland also manages a positive differential on the boards (+4.3) thanks in large part to Nicholas.
A pair of free throws from Johnny Dee and a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer allowed San Diego to escape with a win over Morgan State. The Toreros shot just 41.1 percent in the game but managed to outscore the Bears from beyond the arc (15-12) and the free-throw line (15-11).
Chris Manresa continued to play well in the post in the win. The 6-foot-9 senior recorded a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) for the second straight game. Over the last four games Manresa is averaging a double-double while upping is scoring average to 9.9 ppg. Dee (15.2 ppg) is the lightning rod, especially with his ability to heat up from beyond the arc where he shoots 41.7 percent. The Toreros have been a bit better than Portland on the offensive end, scoring 66.9 points per game, while netting 44.9 percent of their field goal attempts.
Like there records the production on both ends of the floor from these teams has been rather even. San Diego gets the edge in this matchup if only for playing on its home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Diego 68, Portland 65
01/03 10:45:20 ET