Montana State (10-8) at Portland State (10-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 26th, 10:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stott Center (1,500) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: None. Home Record: MSU 6-3, PSU 6-1. Away Record: MSU 4-5, PSU 2-8. Neutral Record: MSU 0-0, PSU 2-0. Conference Record: MSU 5-2, PSU 4-3. Series Record: Montana State leads, 26-18.
GAME NOTES: Two of the hottest teams in the Big Sky Conference meet tonight, as the Portland State Vikings welcome the Montana State Bobcats to the Stott Center.
After getting off to a sluggish start, Montana State has turned things around in Big Sky play and has won five of its last six games. The Bobcats are fresh off an 84-72 win over Northern Colorado last Saturday.
Portland State is playing just as well of late. After suffering through a four-game losing streak to close out the 2011 calendar year, the Vikings have won four of their last five, including a 78-76 overtime win over Eastern Washington last Saturday.
This bout marks the 45th meeting between these two teams, with Montana State leading the all-time series, 26-18. The Bobcats won the first meeting this season on December 30, 2011, 86-73, behind a 24-point performance by Xavier Blount.
Montana State improved upon its scoring average of 72.7 ppg in last Saturday's win, connecting on 44.8 percent of its total shots, including a season-high 13 three-pointers. Michael Dison came off the bench to lead five Bobcats in double figures, as he tallied a career-high 17 points, up considerably from his season average of 4.2 ppg, on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Blount is the team's leading scorer this season, netting 11.9 ppg, but he struggles shooting at just over 40 percent from the field. Christian Moon isn't far off the pace (11.2 ppg), and he is the Bobcats' most effective three-point shooter, nailing 2.2 threes per-game at a 41.9 percent clip. Tre Johnson adds 9.4 ppg and a team-high 6.8 rpg and has also impressed with his defense, registering 0.9 steals per game and 1.1 blocks per game. Montana State's offense has masked its rather lackluster defensive effort, as the team ranks in the bottom-third of the Big Sky with an average yield of 71.4 ppg.
Portland State has an even more prolific offense than Montana State, as the team is generating 77.5 ppg to rank second behind only Weber State in the Big Sky. The Vikings actually had a sub par day by their standards last Saturday, hitting 46 percent of their field goal attempts, down from their league-best percentage of .485. The Vikings were aided by hitting 29-of-43 free-throws in the win. Charles Odum led the way with 20 points, which included the game- winning jumper with two seconds left in overtime. Odum has been one of the conference's best players all season, ranking second in scoring with 18.3 ppg on 53 percent shooting, while also dishing out a team-high 2.6 apg. Chehales Tapscott adds 14.1 ppg and leads the conference in rebounding (8.9 rpg). Lateef McMullan adds 10.4 ppg, but he has tallied 16 ppg in the last three games. Portland State too has been plagued by its defense, as the unit rank last in the conference in points allowed (74.2 ppg).
These two teams are very similar in style and they are both streaking upwards in the Big Sky standings. Portland State gets the slight advantage thanks to the home court in a game that could actually go either way.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Portland State 77, Montana State 76
01/26 10:36:19 ET