Portland is ranked for the first time in more than 50 years. In order to maintain its place in the Top 25, it will likely have to end a losing streak against a crosstown rival that features a player who began his career with the Pilots.
The No. 25 Pilots are back home to try to end a three-game skid against Portland State on Wednesday night when Vikings forward Jamie Jones plays his first game at Chiles Center as a visitor.
Portland (5-1) was among a record-tying seven teams to move into the rankings Monday, making its first appearance in the poll since February 1959.
“Being ranked in the Top 25 at this point of the season is not necessarily a great accomplishment in and of itself,” coach Eric Reveno said. “But it is a tremendous milestone for us as we progress as a program. Our goals still are set on winning a WCC (West Coast Conference) championship and making the NCAA tournament.”
The Pilots are in the Top 25 due to a strong showing in the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif. They beat UCLA 74-47 and then-No. 22 Minnesota 61-56 before falling 84-66 to then-No. 8 West Virginia in Sunday’s championship.
“It is good to be on the national radar,” Reveno said. “We worked hard to get here so we should embrace the attention, but we’ll know by the end of the season if it is truly deserved.”
Portland hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1996, while Portland State (1-4) is seeking a third straight NCAA appearance. The Vikings, though, lost two of their top three scorers from last season’s squad that went 23-10 and promoted Tyler Geving to coach after Ken Bone left to take over at Washington State.
One of their top returnees is Jones, who began his career at Portland and started 29 games as a sophomore in Reveno’s first season in 2006-07 before transferring. Jones’ last game in the Chiles Center was an 87-47 loss to Saint Mary’s on March 3, 2007.
The 6-foot-7 Jones is shooting 71.4 percent and averaging 14.3 points over his last three games for Portland State. He made his first seven shots and scored 16 in an 83-64 loss at Stanford on Sunday.
Portland State won 81-76 over Portland last season as Jones scored 14 points and Jeremiah Dominguez had 23. Nik Raivio led the Pilots with 19.
Raivio’s backcourt partner T.J. Campbell fouled out with two points and nine assists in that contest. Campbell should be eager to make amends after being named to the all-tournament team in Anaheim for averaging 16.7 points in the three games.
The Pilots backcourt combined for 27 points on 7-of-21 shooting in Sunday’s loss to the Mountaineers. Portland was outrebounded 26-10 in the first half and 41-29 for the game.
“We got crushed on the boards and didn’t give ourselves a chance,” Reveno said. “They had a ton of offensive boards in the first half. If we could’ve kept it close and maybe tried to get aggressive in the second half, it might’ve been a different story.”