Montana (18-5) at Idaho State (5-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Gym (3,040) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: Montana 11-1, ISU 4-4. Away Record: Montana 7-3, ISU 1-13. Neutral Record: Montana 0-1, ISU 0-2. Conference Record: Montana 14-1, ISU 4-11. Series Record: Montana leads, 95-44.
GAME NOTES: With their 25-game Big Sky Conference win streak now over, the Montana Grizzlies get after the Idaho State Bengals in league action at Reed Gym on Saturday night.
The Grizzlies, still alone in first place in the Big Sky, had their unblemished mark in league play compromised on Thursday night as the squad suffered an awkward 87-63 road loss against Weber State in Ogden. Not only did the setback snap what had been one of the longest overall win streaks in Division I, it also halted an 11-game road win streak versus conference foes as well.
As for the Bengals, they seem to have caught lightning in a bottle two nights ago as they not only snapped a seven-game slide, they demolished visiting Montana State by a score of 87-51. The scoring output was the most for Idaho State this season, but still the team is just 4-11 in conference play which has the Bengals tied with Portland State for last place in the standings.
Obviously, having gone undefeated in conference play up until Thursday night, the Grizzlies won the first meeting of the season between the squads at home last month, 70-51, which means the all-time series now numbers 95-44 in favor of Montana.
The Grizzlies have won six straight over Idaho State, the last victory for the Bengals coming at home on New Year's Eve 2009 by a 67-65 margin.
Montana figured to have a tough time on the road versus the Wildcats on Valentine's Day, but to be blown out the way that it was by no means expected. Mathias Ward and Will Cherry tried to give the Grizzlies a fighting chance with 18 points apiece, but the squad turned the ball over 14 times and shot only 4-of-15 behind the 3-point line in the meeting. Defensively, Montana allowed WSU to connect on a staggering 58.2 percent from the floor.
In conference play, Montana is outscoring the competition by more than eight points per game, thanks to the efforts of Ward (15.0 ppg), Cherry (14.3 ppg) and Kareem Jamar (12.6 ppg). Another positive aspect of the offense for the Grizzlies is that there are as many as six players who have knocked down at least 11 triples through 15 league bouts, forcing defenses to take any and all perimeter attempts seriously no matter who the shooter might be.
Chris Hansen scored a game-high 27 points, shooting a stellar 9-of-11 behind the 3-point line, as Idaho State crushed the Montana State Bobcats by 26- points in Big Sky Conference action at Reed Gym two nights ago. Hansen, who didn't attempt a single shot from inside the arc, set the school record of triples in a single game for the Bengals. Melvin Morgan and Andre Hatchett checked in with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Hansen, who failed to hit a single 3-pointer for the first time this season when the team tangled with Weber State earlier in the week, is now second on the team in scoring with 11.1 ppg, stemming mostly from his 38.2 percent accuracy beyond the arc. Oddly enough, Hansen is shooting just 37.1 percent from the floor overall on the season. As a group, the Bengals are scoring just 55.5 ppg on the campaign, 59.7 ppg in conference play.
The Bengals hit their high-water mark on Thursday and while it would be nice to see Hansen have another incredible effort out on the perimeter, the odds are certainly against him and the home team right now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana 73, Idaho State 60
02/16 10:45:18 ET