GAME NOTES: The Chiles Center is the place to be for three straight days of college basketball, as the Idaho Vandals and Portland Pilots meet up tonight as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
The Vandals actually began this event eight days ago when it challenged the Oklahoma Sooners on the road and ended up falling in an 85-65 final. Idaho rebounded with a 78-64 victory against Northwest Nazarene at home last Saturday.
As for the Pilots, they began the 2013-14 season on a positive note with a 100-83 win over UC Davis here, but since then the team has dropped a pair of hard-fought outings versus high-profile programs. First, there was the 79-73 setback to Oregon State last week, and then on Monday the squad was taken down by top-ranked Michigan State, 82-67, on the road.
In terms of the all-time series between these two teams, the Vandals are ahead by a count of 13-11.
Both of these squads will be back in action over the next two days, matching up with both Columbia and North Texas in order to complete the event.
Playing in Memorial Gym, Connor Hill led the way for the Vandals against NW Nazarene with 22 points, followed by Stephen Madison with 16 and eight rebounds, while Bira Seck tacked on 14 points for a group that shot 51.9 percent from the floor and got away with just 5-of-16 shooting behind the 3- point line. Defensively, the Vandals forced 16 turnovers, which they traded in for 17 points.
Idaho has had a different leading scorer in each game this season, but what hasn't changed is the top rebounder for the group which is Madison. In fact, the big man is close to averaging a double-double with 14.7 ppg and 9.7 rpg, both of which pace the group. For good measure, Madison is also tied for the team lead in assists with eight. Hill and Glen Dean check in with 11.7 and 11.0 ppg, respectively.
Thanks to a solid effort at the free-throw line (17-of-21) through the first three games, Bailey is the top scorer for Portland with 17.7 ppg, although Nicholas is not that far behind with his 17.3 ppg also getting a boost at the charity stripe as well as 50.0 percent accuracy from the floor overall. Nicholas heads the rebounding effort with 8.3 per game, but the team as a whole is being beaten on the glass by close to five caroms per contest.
Against the newly-appointed top team in the nation, the Pilots gave it their best shot earlier this week at the Breslin Center but still came up short in the 15-point setback to Michigan State. Kevin Bailey led a trio of players in double figures as he dropped in 12 points, but shot just 3-of-10 from the floor, followed by Ryan Nicholas and Bobby Sharp with 11 points apiece.
After putting up a good fight against the top team in the country, the Pilots might be due for a letdown, but being at home with the start of three straight days of basketball they might be the best choice for tonight regardless.
Game Date and Time