Montana State (11-12) at Northern Colorado (7-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 11th, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (2,992) -- Greeley, Colorado. Television: Altitude. Home Record: MSU 6-5, UNC 3-8. Away Record: MSU 5-7, UNC 2-8. Neutral Record: MSU 0-0, UNC 2-0. Conference Record: MSU 6-6, UNC 4-8. Series Record: MSU leads, 53-28.
GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling Big Sky Conference rivals collide on the hardwood tonight in Colorado, as the Bears host the Montana State Bobcats at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
Montana State has fallen upon hard times lately, as the Bobcats enter tonight's affair in the midst of a four-game losing streak. The Bobcats have fallen under .500 at 11-12 overall during the unfortunate stretch, and an 86-76 setback at Sacramento State on Thursday night evened the squad's conference slate at 6-6.
As for Northern Colorado, the Bears have problems of their own, dropping three consecutive decisions and entering this meeting with a meager 7-16 record to show for their 2011-12 campaign. On Thursday, the Bears found themselves on the losing end of a 75-68 final against Montana, dropping to 4-8 in Big Sky play in the process.
MSU leads 53-28 in terms of the all-time series between the two foes.
MSU struggled from the field overall (41.0 percent) in the 10-point loss at Sacramento State, but the Bobcats did manage an 8-of-20 showing from beyond the arc coupled with an 18-of-21 effort at the charity stripe. Unfortunately, neither effort mattered, as Sacramento State shot at a blistering 62.2 percent clip that included 11-of-19 from long range. The Bobcats forced a game-high 20 turnovers as well during the meeting, but the squad managed just 19 points from those giveaways, compared to yielding 18 points to Sacramento via 17 of their own miscues. Tre Johnson scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds to pace MSU in the loss, while Shawn Reid added 16 points off the bench. The Bobcats average a healthy 71.8 points per game this season, but have also yielded 72.2 ppg to the opposition as well. The club has forced just 328 turnovers compared to 322 of their own miscues, and are shooting at an underwhelming 43.1 percent as a team up to this points. Xavier Blount leads the way in scoring for MSU this year with an 11.8 ppg tally. He is joined in double figures only by Christian Moon (11.1 ppg), although Johnson does own a 9.5 ppg mark and leads the squad on the boards with 6.6 rebounds per contest.
UNC buried an outstanding 58.5 percent of its attempts from the floor, yet still found itself on the losing end of a seven-point verdict against Montana. The Bears were good from outside the perimeter, as usual, connecting on 6- of-11 from long range, but the Bobcats were all the better, sinking 10-of-18 three pointers and shooting 48.2 percent overall. The most glaring reason for the setback, however, can be attributed to a whopping 27 giveaways by the Bears, from which Montana amassed 36 points. Mike Proctor scored 18 points to pace UNC in the losing effort, while Tate Unruh contributed 15 points. Connor Osborne tallied 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds as well for the Bears, while Tevin Svihovec chipped in 10 points. The Bears are a very well rounded offensive club, especially outside the perimeter, where they net 43.7 percent of their attempts. Overall, the squad is shooting at an impressive 47.7 percent clip, and have knocked down 70.1 percent of their chances at the foul line. However, UNC has been guilty of 380 giveaways through 23 contests, and have allowed the opposition to net 75.3 ppg. Unruh stands as the only UNC player to own a double-digit scoring average, as his 10.4 ppg leads the team. Svihovec rests at the cusp, however, with a 9.8 ppg tally, while Emmanuel Addo and Proctor chip in 9.4 ppg apiece.
The rivals will each be looking to put an end to their respective losing streaks tonight, but look to the Bears to prevail at home. Provided UNC can limit the turnovers, MSU doesn't play nearly well enough at the defensive end of the court to stop the Bears should their plethora of shooters get hot, particularly from beyond the arc.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Colorado 74, Montana State 70
02/11 10:49:25 ET