PSU basketball is not making the grade

Portland State’s Men’s Basketball is not having the season many thought it would have. Although the team is much improved, its progress has begun to plateau. With their inconsistent win-loss pattern, the Vikings need a win over Sacramento State Saturday night.

The Vikings have the potential to do well over Sacramento State. Portland State has never lost a home game to Sacramento State in the Big Sky Conference. However, the Vikings have not played their best or been the most successful in the last few home games. Earlier this season, the Hornets beat the Vikings 76-64, and as of February 11, the Hornets had three straight wins, the first over Montana State (77-71), whom the Vikings have lost to twice this season.

Sacramento State is 4-4 in conference play. The Hornets rank third in the Big Sky for scoring offense, averaging 71.8 points per game. The Hornets are a high-scoring team and won the game against Northern Arizona by scoring 110 points (110-97). However, Portland State ranks first in Big Sky defensive scoring (66.5 per game). Sacramento State averages 12.6 offensive rebounds and ranks first in the Big Sky, but Portland State isn’t far behind ranking third and averaging 11 offensive rebounds per game. PSU is also ranked second in defensive rebounding with 25.4 per game, and Sacramento State trails behind at 23.7 defensive rebounds per game and ranking third in Big Sky.

The Hornets have higher team marks than Portland State in the Big Sky, but the Viking individual players have a statistical advantage. Junior Seamus Boxley currently leads the Big Sky in both rebounding (9.5 per game) and field goal percentage (56 percent), and he is sixth in scoring (14.7 points per game).

The Vikings also have junior Blake Walker who is ranked fourth in Big Sky scoring (15.4 per game) and sixth in Big Sky rebounding (5.7). Walker was named Big Sky Player-of-the-Week twice in a row during the month of December. Walker and Boxley are ranked higher than their teammates and Sacramento players in the two key areas of Big Sky statistics, scoring and rebounding.

In Big Sky scoring, the Hornets have Joseth Dawson (13 points per game and ranked tenth), Joel Jones (12.6 points per game and ranked 12th), and Brandon Guyton (10.4 points per game and ranked 19th). Dawson is also ranked second for free throws at 85 percent, and tenth for 3-point field goals made. He was named Big Sky Player-of-the-Week for games played February 2-7. Dawson tied his career high with 30 points in the win against Northern Arizona. Jones and Guyton both rank among league leaders in 3-point field goals made at eighth and second.

Defensively, the Hornets have DaShawn Freeman who is ranked third in Big Sky with an average of 1.86 steals per game. This could be a big factor in Sacramento leading the Big Sky for steals with a team average of 8.43 per game. Cedric Thompkins is ranked ninth in Big Sky for rebounding (5.6 per game).

The Vikings have to play smart this game. In the last few home games, they have come onto the court bursting with energy and determination for the win. Then the second half comes and the Vikings end up fighting for the lead usually ending the game with a loss. The Hornets will be coming from Big Sky-leading Eastern Washington (8-1). EWU beat the Hornets and Vikings this season. It is safe to say that the Hornets will be looking for the win over Portland State on Saturday.

The Game starts at 7:05 p.m. Saturday February 14 at the Stott Center. Tickets are $11.50 for reserved seating, $6.50 for general admission, and Students with ID get into the game free.