Montana State (11-15) at Montana (21-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 9:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dahlberg Arena (7,500) -- Missoula, Montana. Television: Local. Home Record: Montana State 6-6, Montana 12-2. Away Record: Montana State 5-9, Montana 9-4. Neutral Record: Montana State 0-0, Montana 0-0. Conference Record: Montana State 6-8, Montana 13-1. Series Record: Montana leads, 149-135.
GAMES NOTES: A storied in-state rivalry will be renewed when the Montana State Bobcats go into Dahlberg Arena for a brawl with the Montana Grizzlies in Big Sky Conference action.
These teams have met a total of 284 times in their history and earlier this season Montana took the most recent meeting by posting a 67-58 road victory over Montana State. The Grizzlies hold a 149-135 all-time series advantage and have won the last three matchups.
Montana State has had a severe drop off after starting conference play with wins in six of its first eight league games. The Bobcats have since lost seven straight overall, with six coming and league play, and are now just 6-8 this season in the Big Sky conference. The Bobcats finish up the regular season in their next matchup against Northern Arizona on Monday.
On the other side Montana has been rolling since conference play began, winning 10 straight on its way to a 13-1 record against Big Sky competition which is currently a half game back of league leading Weber State, which the Grizzlies face in a key season finale next time out.
Montana State hasn't played since last Saturday when it took an 80-66 loss to Cal State Fullerton as part of the annual BracketBuster series. Montana State shot just 40.4 percent from the floor and allowed the Titans to run away with the game as they shot 57.7 percent from the floor including 8-of-13 from three point range.
The Big Sky has been a conference filled with high-scoring teams as Montana State is averaging a solid 71.2 points per game which is fifth in the conference. The team's defense has put the Bobcats on the losing end more often than not as they allows 72.9 points per game for a -1.7 scoring differential. No scorer really stands out on Montana State's offense with no player averaging above 12 points per game. Junior guard Xavier Blount (11.7 ppg) is the teams leading scorer on paper but has missed the last two games after suffering injuries in an off-campus altercation earlier this month and will most likely this game as well. Shawn Reid (10.5 ppg) then becomes the team's primary option and he certainly filled that role against Cal State Fullerton, scoring 20 points. Reid has been fantastic in the last four games averaging 21.3 points per game during that span. Christian Moon (10.4 ppg) can also score while Tre Johnson (9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) leads the team on the glass.
Montana downed Northern Arizona by an easy 78-60 margin in its last time out by shooting an even 50.0 percent from the floor while limiting the Lumberjacks to just 36.1 percent while forcing 22 turnovers.
The Grizzlies can speak to the depth of high scoring squads in the conference as they are scoring 70.7 points per game, which is sixth in the conference despite the team's stellar record. Montana locks up on defense much better than the Bobcats however, holding opponents to just 62.3 points per game. Against Northern Arizona it was not lead scorer Will Cherry who spearheaded the offense, but rather Derek Selvig. The senior forward (9.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg) is the leading rebounder but also filled in as lead scorer by putting in 19 points in the win. Cherry (16.0 ppg, 3.3 apg) is still one of the best scorers in the conference, currently third in the league, but had just 11 points against the Lumberjacks. Sophomore swingman Kareem Jamar (13.4 pg, 5.3 rpg) has also been a prolific scorer this season for the Grizzlies.
This game might be closer than the records indicate with the emotion of the rivalry but expect Montana to pull away in the second half and take down the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana 76, Montana State 68
02/25 11:00:07 ET