March. 2, 2013; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Gary Bell Jr. (5) fights for the loose ball against Portland Pilots guard Tanner Riley (3) during the first half at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

BYU Faces a Much Improved Portland Squad


Portland Pilots (11-8, 3-4) vs. BYU Cougars (13-7, 5-2)

Date: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Location: Chiles Center, Portland, OR

Time: 7:00 PM PST

TV: CSN BA, ROOT Sports NW/RM

Video: TheW.tv

LiveStats: http://www.statbroadcast.com/events/statmonitr.php?gid=port

Last Season: BYU won both matchups.  They beat the Pilots 85-67 in Portland and 86-72 in Provo.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Portland

Alec Wintering, 7.7 PPG, 4.2 APG

Bryce Pressley, 7.7 PPG, 3.5 APG

Kevin Bailey, 17.2 PPG

Ryan Nicholas, 12.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG

Thomas van der Mars, 12.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG

BYU

Kyle Collinsworth, 14.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 5.3 APG

Skyler Halford, 9.0 PPG

Tyler Haws, 22.2 PPG

Eric Mika, 135 PPG, 6.2 RPG

Nate Austin, 3.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, or Josh Sharp, 2.0 PPG

LIVESTREAM (Subject to blackout) *brought to you by thew.tv:

 

KEYS TO THE GAME

Portland

Keep emotions under control, stay level: Portland has been quite the up and down team this season in the WCC, but they need to stay focused at all times and not have any momentary lapses that would allow BYU to pull away.  I bring that up because of what happened last season in this game.  BYU had a good sized lead in the second half when Portland’s Tanner Riley came in off the bench and immediately hit a three.  However, he was ejected from the game on a play shortly after, making a ridiculously agressive dive for a loose ball and then knocking former C0ugar Brock Zylstra to the ground.  (Here is a video of the incident: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJNszVCqCVw).  While Riley is a bench warmer for this year’s Pilots and Zylstra is no longer at BYU, the play still resonates with me, as I watched the game live on ESPNU.  If Portland can keep the game under control, they will have a good chance coming away with the victory.

BYU

Ride the bench: Matt Carlino, Anson Winder, and Josh Sharp have all been fantastic off the bench in recent games.  This is where BYU can separate themself from Portland.  If Nate Austin is unable to play, expect Josh Sharp to make an immediate impact starting.  Both teams have solid starting fives, but BYU has the better bench.  I don’t know of a backup point guard in the country as good as Matt Carlino.  BYU should be able to wear out the Pilots eventually with their really deep bench.  Frank Bartley would be starting on many teams in the West Coast Conference yet he is entirely out of the rotation for BYU right now.  This BYU team is too deep and too talented to lose to the Pilots.

 

KEY MATCHUP

Kevin Bailey vs. Tyler Haws:  Both are excellent scorers, and Bailey in particular has improved a lot from last season.  Bailey is also more important to his team, so it is crucial that he at least match Tyler Haws in scoring for the Pilots to have a good chance at winning.

 

PREDICTION

Portland did knock off Gonzaga at the Chiles Center, but they played a nearly perfect game in doing so.  BYU is playing their best basketball of the season and will knock off the Pilots in a close game by a score of 82-75.

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