Portland State (11-9) at Montana State (10-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthington Arena (7,250) -- Bozeman, Montana. Television: None. Home Record: PSU 10-3, MSU 6-4. Away Record: PSU 1-6, MSU 4-6. Neutral Record: PSU 0-0, MSU 0-2. Conference Record: PSU 6-5, MSU 5-6. Series Record: Montana State leads, 30-19.
GAME NOTES: The Montana State Bobcats will try to stop the bleeding and get back into contention in the Big Sky Conference, as they match up with the Portland State Vikings at Worthington Arena.
Montana State is in a precarious position after dropping five of its last six games. The Bobcats have fallen into a four-way tie for seventh place in the Big Sky standings with a league record of 5-6. Playing at home in their last two games should have helped, but they still lost to Montana (70-66) and Eastern Washington (79-50). Back-to-back road games await, as the team visits North Dakota and Northern Colorado next.
Portland State had been picking up steam, with wins in four straight games prior to its matchup with Montana on Thursday. The Vikings' winning ways were halted in that contest, as they fell in overtime, 82-76. They are now 11-9 overall and tied for third place in the log-jammed league standings (6-5). They will host Northern Arizona next.
A 79-76 victory for Montana State kicked off the season series between these two squads. The Bobcats have won three straight against the Vikings, including a pair of triumphs on the road, to claim a 30-19 lead in the all-time series.
DaShaun Wiggins connected on a pair of free-throws with 25 seconds to play, giving Portland State a 69-67 lead over Montana. However, the Vikings couldn't get a stop at the other end, leading to overtime, during which an 11-4 run by the Grizzlies settled things.
As a team, Portland State is scoring 73.2 ppg this season, while shooting at a 46.7 percent clip. Each of those marks ranks the squad fourth in the Big Sky, with the Vikings also leading the league in assists (14 apg). Tim Douglas (13.6 ppg, 3.8 apg) leads the way in scoring and in setting up his teammates. However, he is only shooting at a 38.9 percent clip for the season. His erratic shooting was on display against Montana as he tallied just 10 points on 4-of-11 from the floor. Wiggins (12.5 ppg) and Gary Winston (10 ppg) are also averaging in double figures, but Kyle Richardson (7.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) was the leader on Thursday with a season-high 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Montana State was entangled in a much less competitive game on Thursday, as the Bobcats were routed by Eastern Washington at home. In the loss, the Bobcats sank just 38.8 percent of their shots from the floor, with Flavien Davis and Calen Coleman each netting nine points as the leading scorers.
The Bobcats are a much less potent offensive team in comparison to not only Portland State, but the rest of the league. Montana State is averaging just 69.5 ppg on 44.5 percent shooting, ranking eighth and 10th in the conference, respectively. Davis (12 ppg) is the single-best scoring option on the roster, and the only contributor putting in more than 10 ppg. Davis was coming off a streak of three straight games in double figures before Thursday's performance. Marcus Colbert (9.1 ppg) and Paul Egwuonwu (9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) are the next best scoring threats.
If Montana State hopes to position itself for a run at the Big Sky title it needs to start winning games more consistently, especially at home. Portland State should offer a reprieve for the Bobcats, as the Vikings have been miserable away from home (1-6).
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana State 71, Portland State 65
02/08 10:35:43 ET