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Southern Utah (1-3) at Portland (4-3)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 1, 4 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Chiles Center (4,852) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: None. Home Record: S. Utah 1-1, Portland 4-1. Away Record: S. Utah 0-2, Portland 0-2. Neutral Record: S. Utah 0-0, Portland 0-0. Conference Record: S. Utah 0-0, Portland 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.

GAME NOTES: The Southern Utah Thunderbirds will try to stop a losing streak on Sunday when they take on the Portland Pilots at the Chiles Center in non- league action.

The Thunderbirds have had more than a week to prepare for this contest after falling to UC Riverside, 74-59, last Saturday. The loss was the third straight for the T-Birds, who are in the midst of a long road swing to finish out the calendar year. Including this matchup, the team plays six of its next seven away from home.

Portland is closing out a quick two-game homestand on Sunday. The first half of the stint ended with an 86-69 victory over San Jose State on Wednesday night. The win was the third in four games for the Pilots, who have climbed above the .500 mark yet again.

These two teams played a home-and-home series during the 1996 and 1997 campaigns for the only two matchups in history. The host squad came away victorious in each contest, with Southern Utah's 76-73 triumph being the most recent.

Southern Utah hung around in the first half, but then crumbled over the final 20 minutes against UC Riverside. The Thunderbirds were only able to connect on 31.6 percent of their field goal attempts in the second half, as they finished with a mere six field goals in the period.

There has been a distinct lack of scoring punch for the Thunderbirds this season, as they are only scoring 62 points per game, which is actually somewhat impressive considering only 36.1 percent of their field goal attempts have found the bottom of the net. Such weak shooting numbers have led to a rather sizable deficit on the scoreboard (-17.2). It is no surprise that the Thunderbirds struggle so much on offense as Trey Kennedy (11.3 ppg) is the only player on the roster averaging double figures. Kennedy finished with a team-high 15 points against UC Riverside, while Chris Nsenki (5.8 ppg) added 10 of his own.

Portland turned in a much different effort in its win over San Jose State. Unlike the Thunderbirds, the Pilots really excelled after halftime, connecting on 62.5 percent of their attempts from the floor to collect the victory. Portland was also aided by a 40-22 advantage in points in the paint, and a 21-6 edge in points off turnovers.

Just like their second halves were different, Portland and Southern Utah's results on offense have also been at opposite ends of the spectrum. Portland is scoring 79.3 points per game and hitting better than 45 percent of its shots from the field. The Pilots are built around their powerful and versatile frontcourt. Swingman Kevin Bailey (15.9 ppg) leads the team in scoring as a player that can really stretch the floor. Ryan Nicholas (14.6 ppg, 9.9 rpg) and Thomas van der Mars (11.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) are more traditional big men, though Nicholas has the range to knock down a 3-pointer from time to time. The trio accounted for 44 points and 24 rebounds against San Jose State.

If Southern Utah had more size up front it could possibly slow down Portland. Unfortunately, the Thunderbirds are not so lucky and will find themselves on the losing end yet again.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Portland 78, Southern Utah 67

12/01 10:35:02 ET

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