Feb 5, 2014; Spokane, WA, USA; Portland Pilots guard Bobby Sharp (11) pas the ball against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Kevin Pangos (4) during the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs beat Pilots 71-66. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Portland Pilots (10-3) @ BYU Cougars (10-4)
Date: Monday, December 29, 2014
Location: Marriott Center, Provo, UT
Time: 6:00 PM PT
Kyle Collinsworth, 13.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 5.7 APG
Tyler Haws, 21.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG
Chase Fischer, 13.2 PPG
Isaac Neilson, 5.2 PPG
Luke Worthington, 3.3 PPG
Alec Wintering, 11.5 PPG, 5.3 APG
Bryce Pressley, 6.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.1 APG
Bobby Sharp, 6.6 PPG
Volodymyr Gerun, 10.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG
Thomas van der Mars, 10.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG
Keys to the Game for BYU
The Cougars will look to get Tyler Haws back on track after two poor games against UMass and Gonzaga after his ankle injury. The Cougars need him to play well in order for the team to be successful due to their lack of inside scoring presence. Chase Fischer and Anson Winder both shot the ball poorly from three point range against Gonzaga, so if they can regain their touch, that will give Tyler Haws more one on one matchups if Portland defenders cannot give help. It will also be crucial for BYU to do a good job defending Portland’s talented big men, who have the ability to go off for 15 or more points on any given night. Shot selection is another key for BYU. Against Gonzaga, they took too many quick three pointers and did not look for Tyler Haws enough down the stretch, even though he is their go to scorer.
Keys to the Game for Portland
Portland opened WCC play with a thrilling last second victory over San Diego. Portland’s sights are aimed high this year, and getting wins on the road are vital for the Pilots to reach their goals. Before Portland won in San Diego they rolled off two easy wins over Montana State and Lewis and Clark. The Pilots won the two games by a combined score of 158-109. Portland is a combined 5-2 in the month of December with the two losses coming in overtime to Oregon State and UNLV (even more frustrating after they handed Arizona their first loss of the season).
It’s all about point guard play for the Pilots. Portland has been led this season by Sophomore guard Alec Wintering. He has been clutch throughout the season, but especially after Bailey went down with his injury. What has been able to finish at the rim a lot better this season, and has also been able to increase his assist average. Portland will try to get van der Mars and Voldy going early, and look for Bobby Sharp to get some plays run for him, as the Pilots really need Sharp to regain the form he was in last season when he made 40% from deep. Portland got a nice spark from freshman D’Marques Tyson last Saturday. If the Pilots struggle offensively early, look for Tyson to see extended minutes. The bottom line is Portland hasn’t really played a game when they are running on all cylinders. Wintering and Voldy have been pretty consistent, but van der Mars, Pressley, and Sharp have been hit or miss, with a lot of misses so far this season. Portland needed a Herculean effort from Sharp last season to knock off the Cougars, and it may take the same or more for them to do it again tonight.
With Kevin Bailey injured, Portland’s advantage in this game comes with their interior scoring advantage. Despite having a down year this season, Thomas van der Mars is still one of the best post players in the West Coast Conference. Voldy Gerun has made big improvements stepping in at power forward for the graduated Ryan Nicholas. If BYU goes with their better offensive lineup of four guards, look for Gerun to post up against the shorter Kyle Collinsworth, who plays power forward defensively in that small lineup. Sharpshooters a year ago, Bryce Pressley and Bobby Sharp have both struggled mightily shooting the ball this season, so if they can return to their previous form, defenders will have to play them closer on the outside, allowing more room for the big men to operate down low.
Portland just doesn’t have enough offensive firepower to compete with BYU especially in the backcourt. The Cougars will cruise to an 82-66 victory.