Friday, March 20, 2009

Halftime: Xavier 42 Portland State 35

If Ken Bone found out that heading into the second half of Portland State's opening round matchup with Xavier his team would be down only seven points, he would likely grimace momentarily before shaking his head approvingly and saying, "We can work with that."

And that truly is the case. Portland State has not played perfectly by any means, however, the Vikings are still fighting hard against an Xavier team that has appeared in the NCAA Tournament eight of the last nine years. That's not a moral victory, but rather a decent start to a game that many saw unfolding much differently.

Once again the stage broadens and senior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez's play matches the challenge. Dominguez scored 13 points in the first half, but his greatest contribution has been dictating the tempo of the game. When Dominguez has had the ball in his hands, things have unfolded nicely for the Vikings. When he hasn't, it has been hit or miss.

Portland State must figure out a way to rebound better in the second half, or at least keep Xavier off the offensive boards. There were a couple times in the first 20 minutes that the Musketeers' size and strength became apparent, and almost every time this occurred it was when Xavier was jockeying for offensive rebounds. The Musketeers have four offensive boards thus far.

Surprisingly the Vikings are still contending even though they are shooting only 42 percent from the three-point line. That is a fine percentage, however, in Portland State's biggest wins this season they have shot the three ball much better. This will certainly be something to keep an eye on in the second half.

Another thing to watch is whether forwards Phil Nelson and Julius Thomas improve their production. Currently both players have been held scoreless, and considering they Nelson and Thomas were significant contributors down the stretch of the season, it will be crucial for them to pick up the pace on the offensive end.

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