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Portland size, shooters could give Rebels problems

Portland is very unlikely to win the West Coast Conference basketball title this season as Gonzaga appears to be a juggernaut.

A second-place finish could also be a tall order with Tyler Haws making shots all over the floor for Brigham Young.

The Pilots could very well be in the mix to grab that third position in the strong WCC, though, and that makes them a very challenging opponent for UNLV.

Portland’s biggest strength lies on the glass. The Pilots sit at No. 26 in the nation with a plus-8.4 rebounding margin.

The Rebels, who have been outrebounded this season, will have to find a way to try to neutralize that edge.

UNLV will also need to defend the perimeter.

Portland makes nearly seven 3-pointers per game and connects on 36 percent from beyond the arc as a team.

The Rebels may catch a break as the Pilots’ leading scorer Kevin Bailey may miss his third straight game with a foot injury. Bailey, a senior guard, would be a big loss.

He’s far from Portland’s only weapon, however.

Sophomore point guard Alec Wintering enters the matchup entering 11.3 points and 5.4 assists per game as the Pilots have gotten off to a 7-2 start.

That record includes wins in both of their road games, at San Jose State and Sacramento State.

One of the reasons Portland has been so effective on the glass is the pair of huge post players who both average over 10 points per game.

Thomas van der Mars and Volodymyr Gerun are both 6-foot-11. While both can score and rebound, neither is a particularly imposing shot blocker.

If Bailey can’t go, Bobby Sharp will start in his place. That could impact the effectiveness of Portland’s reserves.

Sharp typically combines with D’Marques Tyson to form a reliable sharpshooting tandem off the bench.

UNLV will need to make sure to find both players on the defensive end when they are in the game.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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