Preview: Gaels (14-1) at Pilots (9-6)
Date: January 12, 2017 11:00 PM EDT
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Terry Porter has a little extra knowledge on Saint Mary's basketball program, and he is impressed with what he has seen.
Porter's oldest son, Franklin, played as a freshman for Randy Bennett's Gaels last season before transferring to play for his father at the University of Portland, where he is redshirting this season.
The senior Porter watched nearly all of the Gaels' games, and a few practice sessions, a year ago. He said he isn't surprised that the 21st-ranked Gaels, who visit Chiles Center for an 8 p.m. Thursday date with the Pilots, are 14-1 overall, atop the West Coast Conference at 4-0 and riding an eight-game win streak.
"They're one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country," said Porter, in his first year at the UP helm. "They have two really good guards (6-2 senior Joe Rahon and 6-1 junior Emmett Naar) who are fast and skilled and give them great perimeter shooting. And their center (6-11, 255-pound junior Jock Londale) is one of the two best bigs in the league along with BYU's Eric Mika."
Rahon's driving layup with 2.7 seconds left gave Saint Mary's a 74-72 win at Chiles Center a year ago.
In a 63-52 win over San Francisco last Saturday, Londale had 21 points and 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. He averages 19.8 points and 10.0 while shooting .648 from the field, ranking ninth nationally.
The Gaels lead the nation in rebound margin (plus-9.9) and are 13th in field-goal percentage (.50.1). They also rank third nationally in opponents' scoring (58.1) and have allowed no WCC foe to shoot as high as 45 percent from the field.
Portland (9-6, 2-1) is coming off its "worst game of the season" according to Porter, a 70-42 drubbing by Santa Clara. The Pilots made only 13 field goals the entire game, shot .302 from the field -- including 3 for 13 on 3-point attempts -- and had 20 turnovers. Senior point guard Alec Wintering, who leads the WCC in scoring (21.0) and assists (6.1), was 2 for 9 from the field and totaled eight points, four assists and seven turnovers.
Porter said the Pilots will have to come up with their best performance of the season to upset the Gaels.
"They do a great job with their team defense," he said. "They're very aware of where everybody's at on the floor and don't give up a lot of easy points in transition.
"To beat them, you have to limit their points in the paint and cause some havoc to limit their effectiveness at the 3-point line. We need to execute and take care of the ball much better than we did (against Santa Clara)."
Bennett is not expecting a cake walk at Chiles Center.
"It is going to be a tough test playing up there," said Bennett, in his 16th year at the Saint Mary's helm. "It is never easy to play at Portland. They have really good players. They're quick and have a lot of offensive weapons. Coach Porter is doing a great job. It will be a good test for us to match up with them.
"We have to take care of the ball, use our size as an advantage and play smart on the road."