Montana State (10-15) at Southern Utah (11-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Centrum Arena (5,300) -- Cedar City, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: Montana State 8-5, SUU 9-3. Away Record: Montana State 2-10, SUU 2-10. Neutral Record: Montana State 0-0, SUU 0-2. Conference Record: Montana State 7-9, SUU 8-8. Series Record: Montana State leads, 10-3.
GAMES NOTES: The Southern Utah Thunderbirds will play host to the Montana State Bobcats in a Big Sky Conference brawl at Centrum Arena on Thursday night.
Montana State has been stuck in reverse recently with losses in five straight contests. The Bobcats are still clinging to one of the final spots for the Big Sky Tournament with the regular season's end looming with a record of 7-9 in league play. Overall the Bobcats are just 10-15 with a date against conference leading Montana on Saturday next on the docket. That will kick off a three- game homestand to end the season for the Bobcats who have been much better at home (8-5) than on the road (2-10).
Southern Utah put an end to a slide as it escaped with a 73-72 victory over Cal State Northridge in BracketBusters action last Saturday. The Thunderbirds had lost three straight games prior to that triumph and are now 11-15 overall and an even 8-8 in league action. Southern Utah also gets a shot at Montana in its next bout on Monday before finishing the season with two road tilts.
When Southern Utah traveled to Bozeman earlier in the season it suffered a 76-68 defeat. Southern Utah has lost four of the last five meetings, as Montana State leads the all-time series, 10-3.
In its BracketBusters matchup Montana State was taken down 85-74 by South Dakota. Turnovers played a major role in the decision. Even though both teams had 12 turnovers the Bobcats were outscored, 23-10, in points off takeaways.
Montana State has actually been a rather respectable offensive team in comparison to the rest of the Big Sky. The Bobcats may shoot at just a 42.6 percent rate from the floor but they are scoring 71.1 points per game. However, the Bobcats don't mount much defensive resistance. They are allowing 73.8 points per game, ranking among the bottom 10 teams in the country in opponent field-goal percentage (.485). Four different players are scoring in double figures for the Bobcats led by Christian Moon (13.2 ppg) who has done so while shooting an efficient 50.4 percent from the field. Xavier Blount (10.8 ppg), Flavien Davis (10.6 ppg) and Antonio Biglow (10.4 ppg) have helped give the Bobcats a balanced attack.
Jayson Cheesman put in a layup with 12 seconds remaining to lift Southern Utah to its dramatic win over Cal State Northridge. The Thunderbirds got a double- double from Cheesman in the win (13 points, 11 rebounds) and a game-high 21 points from Damon Heuir.
Southern Utah has been fortunate enough to have the best scoring duo in the Big Sky in Heuir (16.2 ppg, 3.1 apg) and Jackson Stevenett (17.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg). Stevenett leads the league in scoring while Heuir is third. Heuir does the majority of his scoring from the perimeter, while Stevenett works more around the rim. As a team the Thunderbirds are scoring a mediocre 67.7 points per game, with little depth behind the duo. Cheesman (7.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is the leading rebounder for the Big Sky's best team on the glass (38 rpg).
Southern Utah has defended its home floor well with nine wins in 12 tries. Expect Heuir and Stevenett to lead the Thunderbirds to a victory against Montana State, which struggles on the road (2-10).
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Utah 70, Montana State 65
02/28 10:37:33 ET