Montana State (10-12) at Idaho State (4-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Gym (2,666) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: Montana State 8-4, Idaho State 3-4. Away Record: Montana State 2-8, Idaho State 1-12. Neutral Record: Montana State 0-0, Idaho State 0-3. Conference Record: Montana State 7-7, Idaho State 3-10. Series Record: Montana State leads, 102-80.
GAMES NOTES: The Idaho State Bengals will begin a three-game homestand on Thursday night when the Montana State Bobcats invade Reed Gym for a Big Sky Conference bout.
An 85-72 loss to Northern Colorado on Saturday was the third setback in the last three games for Montana State. The Bobcats are still clinging to relevancy in the Big Sky despite the losing stretch with a mark of 7-7 against league foes. Montana State, which is 10-12 overall and 2-8 on the road, will travel to face Weber State next.
It has been a disastrous season for Idaho State which comes into this contest at just 4-19 overall and 3-10 against the Big Sky. The Bengals were dropped, 56-40, by Weber State on Monday in what was the seventh straight loss for the team. That losing streak is the longest of the season for the Bengals who will host conference-leading Montana on Saturday.
When these teams met earlier this season Montana State barely survived with a 61-59 overtime victory on its home floor. The win was the third in the last four meetings for the Bobcats who lead the lengthy all-time series, 102-80.
Although Montana State turned in a solid offensive performance by shooting 47.2 percent against Northern Colorado, the Bobcats' defensive struggles kept them out of the win column. The Bobcats allowed the Bears to put in 61.7 percent of their shots from the floor in the loss.
Struggles on defense have been the main weakness for Montana State. The Bobcats are allowing teams to put up 73 points per game on the season, shooting 47.3 percent from the floor. Each of those marks is among the 50 worst in the country. Its unfortunate considering the Bobcats are the Big Sky's second best scoring team (72.4 ppg). Christian Moon (13.8 ppg) is the leading scorer on the roster for the Bobcats and has scored in double figures in back-to-back games after a two-game slide earlier in the month. Joining Moon in double figures is Xavier Blount (11.3 ppg), Flavien Davis (10.8 ppg) and Antonio Biglow (10.5 ppg).
It was another miserable offensive showing for Idaho State in its loss to Weber State. The Bengals managed to shoot just 38.6 percent from the field, including 3-of-12 from beyond the arc. The Bengals also had just three points from the free-throw line, while being on the short end of a 35-20 difference on the glass.
Putting points on the board has been more of a challenge for Idaho State than it has been for most others. The Bengals are netting only 54.1 points per game and shooting less than 40 percent from the field. Their scoring average as well as their assists-per-game average (9.5 pg) not only rank last in the Big Sky but among the five worst marks in the country. The Bengals are also one of the five worst rebounding teams in the nation (26.9 pg). Melvin Morgan (11.8 ppg) is shooting just 35 percent from the field but is the lead scorer for the Bengals who have just four players putting in more than five points per game. Tomas Sanchez (10.4 ppg) and Chris Hansen (10.4 ppg) are other double-figure scoring threats.
Even at home its hard to imagine the Bengals having enough offensive firepower to keep up with Montana State which hasn't had too much issue offensively. Playing a weak scoring team like Idaho State won't hurt the defensively weak Bobcats either.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana State 69, Idaho State 65
02/14 10:31:24 ET