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SCORESHEET/BY STEVE BRANDON/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Vikings off to banner men's basketball start, but keep an eye on Vandals, too; meanwhile, things are happening in Seattle

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Mike Riley, then coach of Nebraska, chats on the sidelines at Autzen Stadium before his team's game this season against Oregon.

As life returns to normal post-Willie Taggart move to Florida State… things get even more back to normal in Corvallis with the return of native son Mike Riley to the Beavers' football coaching staff.

Riley has signed on as assistant head coach under new head coach Jonathan Smith.

A more stabilizing move Oregon State could not have made.

Riley recently was fired after seasons of 6-7, 9-4, 4-8 at Nebraska. That won't cut it in Lincoln, but 19-19 over the next three years at OSU — with two bowl appearances as was the case for Riley's Cornhuskers — wouldn't be a bad start for the Smith Era.

It'll just be flat-out interesting, as Riley might say in his aw shucks way, to see what and how he does as a sidekick and mentor. Will he coach defensive backs? Maybe. But it's easier to picture him with the offense, perhaps even calling plays from above the field.

VIKINGS BASKETBALL

The Portland State men, off to a 7-2 start under new coach Barret Peery, are 2-0 against West Coast Conference teams, but their biggest challenge might come Saturday in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Santa Clara.

The Broncos, coached by Herb Sendek, a former Peery boss, are have won their last two games and will have had all week to prepare for Peery's pressure style. Santa Clara is 3-5.

PSU is leading the nation in steals with 13.8 per game and ranks second in turnover margin (plus-9.8).

After Santa Clara, the Viks will visit Oregon at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13.

PSU's next home game — to be played at Lewis & Clark — is 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, against Linfield.

ELSEWHERE IN THE BIG SKY

Keep your eyes also on the Idaho Vandals in the Big Sky race. They are 6-2 after Wednesday night's 91-64 win over visiting Washington State and coach Ernie Kent.

Idaho's main gun is former Jefferson High standout Victor Sanders. The 6-5 senior guard had 19 points against WSU. Sanders, who averaged 20.9 points per game last season, is a preseason all-Big Sky pick.

Also on the team from Portland are 6-7 senior forward Arkadiy Mkrtychan from Columbia Christian and 6-2 freshman guard Geno West from state champion Jefferson.

Mkrtychan had 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in 2016-17. He's coming off the bench for 7.7 points so far this season.

West scored five points in four minutes in the rout of WSU.

Idaho tied for third in the Big Sky last season and finished 19-14 overall, 12-6 in conference.

Idaho's visit to Portland State (home floor at Lewis & Clark this year) will be on Thursday, Feb. 1.

MARINERS' MOVE

No, it's not for Shohei Ohtani, the sought-after Japanese two-way star (pitcher/outfielder).

But Seattle got a new potential outfielder of interest on Thursday, trading for Dee Gordon.

The M's sent the Miami Marlins minor leaguers Robert Dugger, Nick Neidert and Christopher Torres for Gordon, who is penciled in at center with Robinson Cano returning at second and Jean Segura back at shortstop.

Seattle's primary center fielder of 2017, Jarrod Dyson (who also made the move from middle infield) is a free agent.

Gordon, 29, spent the past three seasons in Miami. He's a two-time All-Star. Last season, he hit .308, with 60 steals and 114 runs scored. His 201 hits tied for third in MLB. But it's a bit of a fire sale by the Marlins and their new CEO, Derek Jeter.

SEATTLE HOCKEY

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the league will entertain a $650 million expansion application from Seattle to join the 31-team league and that Seattle is the only city being considered at the moment. The City Council this week approved a renovation of KeyArena.

SINCLAIR TO APPEAR

Christine Sinclair of the Portland Thorns is scheduled to be at the main table for the 2018 London Sports Celebrity Dinner and Auction in February, according to Global News in Canada. She will join Trish Stratus, a WWE Hall of Famer from Toronto, at an event highlighting trailblazing women in sports.

COMING FRIDAY

The Portland Winterhawks are at home against the Vancouver Giants (7 p.m. face-off), a team that beat them 5-3 at Vancouver on Tuesday.

The Hawks have stumbled in their last three outings, being outscored 13-4.

• In prep boys basketball, Clackamas at Grant is one of the most attractive games.

• Dana Altman's Oregon Ducks (5-3) play host to Colorado State (4-5, 0-3 away) at 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Network).

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