Southern Utah (5-11) at Montana State (6-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, January 21, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthington Arena (7,250) -- Bozeman, Montana. Television: None. Home Record: S. Utah 4-3. Montana St. 5-2. Away Record: S. Utah 1-6, Montana St. 1-7. Neutral Record: S. Utah 0-2, Montana St. 0-0. Conference Record: S. Utah 3-4, Montana St. 3-4. Series Record: Montana State leads, 9-3.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams tied in the Big Sky Conference standings square off on Monday night, as the Southern Utah Thunderbirds pay a visit to the Montana State Bobcats.
In the first half of their current two-game road stretch, the Thunderbirds were bested by league-leading Montana, 73-67, last Thursday. It was the fourth straight loss for Southern Utah, which has dropped to 5-11 overall. That includes a 3-4 mark against league foes. The T-Birds begin a four-game homestand with their next bout against Portland State.
The Bobcats were also defeated by Montana last time out in a heartbreaking 76-71 overtime verdict. MSU has now dropped back-to-back decisions after a three-game win streak. The Bobcats are 6-9 overall, and they are 3-4 in conference as well. This is the first of three straight games at home for Montana State, which is 5-2 at Worthington Arena this season.
This is Southern Utah's first meeting with Montana State as a member of the Big Sky conference. In 12 previous matchups, the last coming in 1997, the Bobcats have earned nine wins. That last meeting though went to the Thunderbirds in a 68-62 final in Cedar City.
Southern Utah trailed by as many as 17 points against Montana and a late rally fell short in what wound up as a six-point loss. The Thunderbirds shot an impressive 49.1 percent from the floor while hitting 10-of-19 shots from beyond the arc, but 21 turnovers proved costly.
In the contest, Damon Heuir (15.0 ppg, 3.7 pg) racked up 19 points and a game- high six assists. Heuir has scored in double figures in the last five games while shooting at a 46.1 percent clip, which is a marked improvement on his season average (.388). Jackson Stevenett (15.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is the second- leading scorer in the conference while also ranking in the top-10 in rebounds. Jayson Cheesman (6.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) joins Stevenett in the frontcourt as the leading shot blocker (2.3 pg) in the Big Sky. Despite Heuir and Stevenett's efforts, the Thunderbirds are scoring only 64.8 ppg while shooting 41.6 percent from the field.
The Bobcats had a 66-63 lead with less than 30 seconds remaining but a 3- pointer from Montana's Mike Weisner with three seconds left on the clock sent the game to overtime. The Bobcats then allowed a 6-0 run to open the extra session, which effectively put the game away. The Bobcats did not score in overtime until there were just 22 seconds remaining.
Christian Moon missed the first eight games of the season after being declared academically ineligible, but he has been sensational since his return. The 6- foot-2 guard (14.0 ppg) has scored in double figures in six straight games, including a pair of 21-point efforts while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 37.8 from beyond the arc. Xavier Blount (11.4 ppg) is another solid scorer. Antonio Biglow (10.5 ppg) has yet to find his rhythm while playing just five minutes in the past two games after serving a four-game suspension. As a team, the Bobcats are the second-best scoring team in the conference (72.9 ppg).
Although it has two of the best scorers in the conference, Southern Utah doesn't have the same type of balance that Montana State, as it has seven players scoring at least 8.5 ppg. The Bobcats' offensive versatility will carry them to a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana State 70, Southern Utah 61
01/21 10:31:47 ET