GAME NOTES: The final week of the regular season in the Big Sky Conference begins with an in-state rivalry game between the Montana State Bobcats and the Montana Grizzlies at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula.
The Grizzlies, who will close out a four-game homestand tonight, are currently enjoying a three-game win streak and as a result are 10-7 in conference play, which means they've entered the week in third place in the Big Sky standings behind only Weber State and North Dakota. On Saturday night, the team thrashed the hapless Southern Utah Thunderbirds in an 82-54 final.
Montana State has had some extra time to prepare for this meeting, last playing on Thursday night against the same Southern Utah squad. However, unlike the Grizzlies who cruised to a comfortable win over the weekend, the Bobcats had to go to overtime against the T'birds before pulling out the 77-72 win. The victory was the second in the last three outings for an MSU program that is sitting alone in sixth place in the standings at the moment.
Montana won the first meeting of the season back on Feb. 3 by a score of 70-66 on the road, which means the all-time series now numbers 147-141 in favor of the Bobcats.
Against one of the worst teams in college basketball this season, one that has now lost a staggering 26 consecutive games, the Bobcats were pushed to overtime before taking down Southern Utah last week at home. Stephan Holt was 5-of-7 behind the 3-point line, accounting for all of the successful conversions beyond the arc for the Bobcats, as he finished with 22 points, followed by Flavien Davis with 18, Paul Egwuonwu and Marcus Colbert 12 and 11 points, respectively, as the team outscored the Thunderbirds by a whopping 30-11 at the charity stripe.
The Bobcats have had a different leading scorer in each of the last three games, which is either a testament to their balanced approach on offense or an inability to put together consistent efforts from one outing to the next. Davis leads the group overall with his 12.6 ppg, but he is the only player in double figures through 28 games, of which he has come off the bench in seven. Colbert (9.8 ppg) can give the group a lift in the scoring department while also being the top passer with 86 assists, but still the team as a whole has more turnovers than dishes entering play this week.
Kareem Jamar put together a strong all-around effort as he scored 25 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out seven assists as the Montana Grizzlies cruised to an 82-54 win over Southern Utah two nights ago at Dahlberg. Jamar finished the night shooting an impressive 10-of-14 from the floor and also made three steals and blocked a shot for the Grizzlies. Mike Weisner gave the group a boost off the bench with 17 points and seven rebounds, shooting 5-of-6 behind the 3-point line, while Chris Kemp pitched in 10 points in a reserve role as well.
Leading the team in scoring more often than not this season, Jamar checks in with an impressive 19.7 ppg, having scored a solid portion of his points at the free-throw line where he is 141-of-196. Jamar is not just the leading scorer for Montana, he is also the one who gets the rest of the offense on track with his 109 assists, against a mere 56 turnovers. Jordan Gregory accounts for 13.7 ppg and Keron DeShields another 12.2 ppg as the program puts up 72.7 ppg on a very strong 48.2 percent shooting from the field.
The fact that one of these teams struggled against the worst programs in the Big Sky and the other had no trouble whatsoever in meetings that were just two days apart, should tell you all you need to know about this matchup.
Game Date and Time