Montana (19-5) at Davidson (20-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: John M. Belk Arena (5,223) -- Davidson, North Carolina. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Montana 11-1, Davidson 10-1. Away Record: Montana 8-3, Davidson 8-4. Neutral Record: Montana 0-1, Davidson 2-2. Conference Record: Montana 15-1, Davidson 15-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Montana Grizzlies head across the country for a BracketBusters matchup against the Davidson Wildcats at John M. Belk Arena on Saturday.
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood.
Montana bounced back from its first Big Sky Conference loss of the season last Saturday with a 61-54 victory at Idaho State. The win improved the Grizzlies to a 19-5 overall record which includes a respectable 8-3 mark in true road tests. Coach Wayne Tinkle's unit relies heavily on the trio of Mathias Ward, Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar for production. Ward is pacing the team with 14.8 ppg, while Cherry and Jamar contribute just over 13 points and four assists per outing apiece.
The three-headed attack of Montana supplied 32 of its 61 points in its win over the Bengals last weekend. Cherry went just 1-of-8 from the floor for 10 points, but he managed to rack up 11 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a pair of blocks to make up for his poor field-goal efficiency. Mike Weisner chipped in 10 points off the bench, as the Grizzlies connected on 45.5 percent of their field-goal tries and 13-of-17 at the charity stripe. Montana is third in the Big Sky in both scoring (70.7 ppg) and scoring defense (64.9).
Bob McKillop's Wildcats notched their 11th win in a row on Wednesday as they completed a 73-36 rout of the Furman Paladins to rise to a 15-1 record in Southern Conference action. All but two of Davidson's wins during the current winning streak have come by double-digit margins. Belk Arena has been kind to its owners, as the Wildcats are 10-1 at home after winning their last nine there. Davidson has a trio of solid performers of its own in Jake Cohen, De'Mon Brooks and Nik Cochran. Cohen is posting 14.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest, while Brooks chimes in with 13.1 points and 6.3 boards per game. Cochran is netting 10.1 ppg and leads the nation at the charity stripe with a 95-percent success rate on free-throw attempts.
Brooks and Cohen both registered double-doubles in Davidson's one-sided affair versus Furman earlier in the week. The win gave the Wildcats 20 wins for the 11th time under McKillop and for the seventh time in nine seasons. Davidson stifled the Paladins and held them without a field goal in the final 12 minutes of the first half to pull away. The Wildcats have the highest scoring offense in the SoCon at 72.7 ppg and are just two slots lower in scoring defense with an allowed average of 62.1 ppg.
The Grizzlies are one of the most efficient teams in the nation, but they will be facing a competitor that is better overall than all of their Big Sky foes. Davidson's homecourt advantage will give it a definite edge and it should match up well enough with Montana to keep its winning streak intact.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Davidson 75, Montana 67
02/23 10:37:36 ET