Heading into their second game of the season against SMU, the Vikings (1-0) will match-up against an SMU (0-2) team that has suffered two defeats by double-digits, including a 84-64 loss to TCU in their last game.
The Vikings will rely on senior Melvin Jones to carry the load against SMU. In his first game of the season, Jones scored a game-high 23 points with five assists and two rebounds. Jones, who averaged 11.8 points per game as a junior, only turned the ball over once against Pepperdine and recorded most of his damage from behind-the-arc, where he went 5-for-9 from three-point range.
If SMU is to bounce back against Portland State, they will need to apply pressure on Jones not only when he has the ball, but prior to him receiving the ball. His 5'10", 165 pound frame will force him to hang around the mid-range to long-range area, unless he wants to test Papa Dia down low.
Speaking of Dia, he needs to find a way to contribute in the scoring game, as well as on the glass. So far this season, Dia is averaging 8.5 points per game, which is four points less than last season. However, he is still SMU's biggest rebounded and has averaged 8.5 boards per game, the same number as he did a year ago.
Guede, who hit the game-winning basket against Pepperdine, went 2-for-3 from behind-the-arc en route to a 10 point game, along with two rebounds and two steals coming off of the Vikings' bench.
Nate Lozeau will have the job of marking Dia all night and by looking at the stats, it would appear that Dia has a big advantage over him. Lozeau scored just four points in the opener and recorded just four rebounds. Being the team's biggest man, Lozeau must secure more rebounds, or else Dia and SMU will thrive off the glass.
Their 0-2 start, with losses to Arkansas-Little Rock and TCU, was not expected. If anything, I expected them to be at least 1-1. Arkansas-Little Rock, who went 8-22 last season, should have been an easy W on the schedule; however, they outperformed SMU, and left SMU in disarray.
But it's not time to panic just yet. A win over Portland State, who was 13-19 a year ago, would put them at 1-2, and riding confidence into their upcoming games against UC Riverside on Saturday and Lamar on Sunday.