Montana (15-6) at Montana State (11-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 4th, 9:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthington Arena (7,250) -- Bozeman, Montana. Television: None. Home Record: Montana 9-2, Montana State 6-4. Away Record: Montana 6-4, Montana State 5-6. Neutral Record: Montana 0-0, Montana State 0-0. Conference Record: Montana 8-1, Montana State 6-4. Series Record: Montana leads, 148-135.
GAMES NOTES: One of the most historic rivalries in the Big Sky conference returns when the Montana Grizzlies take on the Montana State Bobcats in a conference brawl at Worthington Arena.
This will be the 284th meeting between these in-state rivals. Montana has the historical edge with a 148-135 record in the series. Montana swept the season series a year ago after Montana State did so in the previous season.
Montana has climbed towards the top of the Big Sky standings with wins in each of its last four outings. The Grizzlies are now 8-1 in conference play which is just a half game behind first place Weber State. Montana has a quick turnaround traveling home to take on Idaho State on Monday.
The Grizzlies have not played since last Sunday when they escaped with a 69-67 victory over Portland State. Montana thwarted a last second shot chance by the Vikings Gary Winston causing him to lose control of the ball as he sprinted towards the three point line. The Grizzlies shot an even 50.0 percent in the game.
On its way to the second best record in the Big Sky Montana has been rather mediocre offensive squad scoring 69.1 points per game which is sixth in the conference. The Grizzlies atone for its offensive output by locking down on defense in allowing opponents to score just 62.8 points per contest. Junior guard Will Cherry powers the offense scoring 15.1 points per game and dishing out 3.6 assists per contest as well. Cherry had 20 points against Portland State stretching his season-long streak in double figures to nine games. Montana also enjoys a solid scorer flanking Cherry in sophomore swing man Kareem Jamar (13.1 ppg, 3.6 apg). Junior forward Mathias Ward (10.4 ppg) provides scoring relief for the backcourt tandem in the paint while senior seven-footer Derek Selvig leads the team on the boards pulling in 6.2 per game. Selvig was a rebound short of his second double-double of the season in the win over Portland State.
Montana State won five of its first six games in 2012 but has dropped back-to- back contests since. The Bobcats are now tied with Idaho State for third place in the Big Sky with a record of 6-4 and will be on the road to play Sacramento State in their next matchup.
Montana State fell behind early trailing 37-28 at the half in Thursdays loss to EAstern Washington. The Bobcats shot only 30.8 percent in the game and turned the ball over 20 times in dropping a lopsided 69-52 decision.
The poor offense was out of form for Montana State which is the third highest scoring team in the Big Sky putting in 72.2 points per game while shooting at 43.4 percent from the floor. The Bobcats also clean up on the glass efficiently pulling down 35.4 rebounds per game which is a conference high. Montana State does not have an individual scorer that can match either of Montana's top two with junior guard Xavier Blount the teams leading scorer at 12.4 points per game. Christian Moon, also a junior guard, is second on the team (11.4 ppg) and has been a deadly scorer from beyond the arc netting 44.5 percent of his attempts from three point range which leads the team. Both scorers were held below 10 points in the recent loss. Sophomore forward Shawn Reid (8.5 ppg) was the only player to score in double figures in the game. Sophomore forward Tre Johnson (9.0, 6.7 rpg) is the leader on the boards.
Montana has the edge in this one in individual scoring but Montana State has the more consistent balanced scoring squad which will aid it on its home court. If the Bobcats can limit Cherry and Jamar the Grizzlies will struggle to find an offensive rhythm.
Sports Network PRedicted Outcome: Montana State 71, Montana 69
02/04 10:42:54 ET