Montana State (5-7) at Northern Colorado (3-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (2,992) -- Greeley, Colorado. Television: Altitude. Home Record: Montana State 5-2, Northern Colorado 2-1. Away Record: Montana State 0-5, Northern Colorado 1-8. Neutral Record: Montana State 0-0, Northern Colorado 0-0. Conference Record: Montana State 2-2, Northern Colorado 1-3. Series Record: Montana State leads, 33-18.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams headed in opposite directions will square off on Thursday night when the Montana State Bobcats battle the Northern Colorado Bears in Big Sky Conference action at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
With a thrilling 70-68 come-from-behind win in overtime against Eastern Washington the Bobcats have now won three straight games and improved their overall record to 5-7. All three of those games came at home for Montana State which is winless on the road (0-5). This is the first of a two-game road trip for Montana State that finishes up at Portland State.
Northern Colorado has dropped each of its last three games after an 86-63 rout at the hands of IDaho State last Saturday. The Bears are now just 3-9 overall but are returning home after a four-game road trip to play four straight at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion continuing against Montana on Saturday.
Last year these teams split the season series with the home team victorious in each instance. Montana State leads the all-time series by a 33-18 margin.
After trailing by as many as 15 points against Eastern Washington, Montana State rattled off a 10-0 run late in the game to secure a one-point lead with less than two minutes remaining. A pair of Flavien Davis free throws then tied the game to send it to overtime where the Bobcats hit just a single field goal but had a 3-0 edge from the free throw line to pull out the win.
Offensively speaking the Bobcats have been one of the better teams in the Big Sky as they are currently ranked second in the conference in scoring (73.3), despite shooting just 41.3 percent from the field. Leading the charge is a trio of players that have missed some time this season. Christian Moon (13.2 ppg) missed a good portion in the beginning of the season but has turned it on since his return. Antonio Biglow (12.3 ppg) and Xavier Blount (12.3 ppg) have each missed three games but when on the court, have been reliable scoring options. Davis (10.2 ppg) adds scoring punch.
Points from beyond the arc were the major reason for Northern Colorado's loss to Idaho State. The Bears allowed the Bengals to hit an incredible 15 3- pointers in the contest, while sinking just six themselves. Northern Colorado was also on the short end of a 23-9 deficit from the free-throw line.
Though they have not had the same type of scoring numbers as Montana State, the Bears have been more efficient than the Bobcats, ranking second in the Big Sky in field-goal percentage (.452). The Bears' perimeter defense is a major concern with the team allowing the second-most 3-pointers in the conference. Derrick Barden (10.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg), Tevin Svihovec (10.7 ppg) and Tate Unruh (10.4 ppg) share the bulk of the scoring responsibilities. Paul Garnica (8.3 ppg) is the next best option and has provided a bit of a spark off the bench.
Some of the issues for Northern Colorado can be credited to their road-heavy schedule to this point. A return home should allow the Bears to get back on track especially against a Montana State team that certainly isn't among the conference's best.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Colorado 71, Montana State 66
01/10 10:35:20 ET