Northern Arizona (5-23) at Montana State (11-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, February 27th, 9:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthington, Arena (7,250) -- Bozeman, Montana. Television: None. Home Record: Northern Arizona 4-9, Montana State 6-6. Away Record: Northern Arizona 1-11, Montana State 5-10. Neutral Record: Northern Arizona 0-3, Montana State 0-0. Conference Record: Northern Arizona 1-14, Montana State 6-9. Series Record: Montana State leads, 45-43.
GAMES NOTES: The Montana State Bobcats will try to stop a long losing streak and lock up a spot in this week's Big Sky Conference Tournament when they face off with the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Worthington Arena this evening.
Montana State have plummeted down the standings in the Big Sky over the last month as the Bobcats have lost eight straight games including seven in league play to put them at sixth in the league standings at 6-9. With a win in this matchup the Bobcats can still grab the final spot in the conference tournament.
Northern Arizona will not be in the conference tournament after a terrible season in which the Lumberjacks are just 5-23 overall and 1-14 in league play. The Lumberjacks enter this game riding a 15-game losing streak and have not gotten in the win column since December.
These teams will be meeting for the second time this season and the 88th time all-time. Montana State took this season's first matchup and now holds a slim 45-43 edge historically.
Northern Arizona fell on the road to Montana on Thursday night by a 78-60 margin. The Lumberjacks shot just 36.1 percent from the floor in the game and turned the ball over 22 times in the losing effort.
Northern Arizona has struggled at both ends of the floor this year. with the squad ranking last in the league in both points (62.3 ppg) and points allowed (71.0 papg). The Lumberjacks do lead the conference in assists however, dishing out 14.1 per game as a team. Junior point guard Stallon Saldivar (6.6 ppg, 5.1 apg) has not been a prolific scorer but has led the teams high rate of assists and is tied for second in the conference overall in the category heading into the season finale. Saldivar had only seven points and three assists against Montana. Freshman guard James Douglas (12.2 ppg) gives a bit of hope for Northern Arizona in the future as the squad's leading scorer this year, although he has slowed down the stretch failing to get in double figures in three of the last four games including a two-point outing against Montana. Gabe Rogers (10.2 ppg) has missed a number of games this season but has been the team's only other double figure scorer. He put in a team-high 18 points against Montana and is averaging 21.5 points per game in his last two games.
Montana State also lost to Montana its last time out on Saturday. The Bobcats offense was slowed to just a 32-8 percent shooting clip and was outscored 12-4 from the free throw line in taking a 57-47 loss to their instate rivals.
Montana State is near the middle of the conference in scoring at 70.3 points per game, while shooting 42.4 percent from the floor. On defense the Bobcats leave something to be desired as they allow 72.3 points per game. Junior guard Xavier Blount (11.7 ppg) is the leading scorer, but has missed the last three games after suffering injuries in an off-campus altercation earlier this month and will most likely miss this game as well. On Saturday, Jeff Budinich (4.5 ppg) was the only player in double figures for Montana State as he put in 11 points. Shawn Reid (10.4 pp) and Christian Moon (10.2 ppg) provide some offensive relief, while Tre Johnson (8.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Mohammed Fall (6.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg) lead the third best rebounding squad in the Big Sky with the Bobcats bringing down 34.3 rebounds per game.
Montana State is fortunate to get Northern Arizona in its final game with a chance to salvage its postseason hopes. Even without Blount the Bobcats are still the superior offensive squad and with its home crowd behind it, MSU should capture a win and a spot in the conference tournament.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana State 63, Northern Arizona 55
02/27 10:33:16 ET