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Montana State (11-11) at Sacramento State (8-14)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 9th, 10:05 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: The Nest (1,200) -- Sacramento, California. Television: None. Home Record: Montana St. 6-5, Sacramento St. 5-6. Away Record: Montana St. 5-6, Sacramento St. 3-8. Neutral Record: Montana St. 0-0, Sacramento St. 0-0. Conference Record: Montana St. 6-5, Sacramento St. 3-8. Series Record: Montana State leads, 25-13.

GAME NOTES: The Sacramento State Hornets will try to continue their impressive turnaround tonight, as they entertain the Montana State Bobcats in Big Sky Conference action at The Nest.

Montana State got out to an impressive 6-2 start in Big Sky play, but has since dropped three in a row to fall into a tie for third place in the league standings with Idaho State. The Bobcats' latest defeat came at the hands of in-state rival and first-place Montana last Saturday, 67-58.

After starting the season a less-than-impressive 5-6, Sacramento State opened conference action by dropping eight games in a row. The Hornets have since climbed out of the cellar in the standings by winning three straight, with their latest triumph coming in a 75-71 final versus Eastern Washington last Saturday.

Montana State has won seven of the last eight meetings against Sacramento State and lead the all-time series, 25-13, as a result.

Montana State has been almost perfectly average this season, giving up nearly as many points (71.5 ppg) as it scores (71.6 ppg). The team's shooting was cold in last Saturday's loss however, connecting on just 37.7 percent of its field goal attempts, which included a woeful 2-of-16 effort from three-point range en route to scoring fewer than 60 points for the second time in three games. Jordan Allou was the lone bright spot for the Bobcats, coming off the bench to hit all five of his shots to finish with 15 points. Though Allou averages just 5.4 ppg on the season, he has now registered double figures in back-to-back games. Xavier Blount (12 ppg) and Christian Moon (11.3 ppg) are the only Bobcats averaging in double digits, though Jamie Stewart (9.1 ppg) and Tre Johnson (9.1 ppg) don't lag too far behind. Johnson also rips down a team-leading 6.6 rpg. Montana State leads the conference in blocks (4.2 bpg).

Though Sacramento State has one of the least-effective scoring offenses in the Big Sky (65.4 ppg), it has shown marked improvement during its modest three- game win streak, scoring at least 73 points in each tilt. The Hornets were hot against Eastern Washington last Saturday, shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 9-of-20 from three-point range. Joe Eberhard paced the team with 21 points and nine rebounds, while John Dickson was hot on his heels with 20 points and seven boards. Dickson is the Hornets' leading scoring on the year, netting 12.8 ppg, and Eberhard adds 10.6 ppg with a team-best 6.2 rpg while shooting well from the field (.483), three-point range (.411) and the foul line (.755). Dylan Garrity pitches in just 7.6 ppg, but he leads the conference in assists, dishing out 6.4 per contest. Sacramento State hasn't been efficient from beyond the arc, ranking last in both three-pointers made (108) and three-point FG percentage (.320).

With these teams trending in opposite directions, Sacramento State has a golden opportunity to extend its winning streak to a season-long four games against struggling Montana State.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Sacramento State 66, Montana State 63

02/09 10:38:49 ET