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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthington Arena (7,250) -- Bozeman, Montana. Television: None. Home Record: EWU 2-3, MSU 4-2. Away Record: EWU 0-6, MSU 0-5. Neutral Record: EWU 1-1, MSU 0-0. Conference Record: EWU 1-2, MSU 1-2. Series Record: Montana State leads, 42-31.
GAME NOTES: Still trying for their first road win of the season, the Eastern Washington Eagles have made the trek to Bozeman for a Big Sky Conference showdown with the Montana State Bobcats.
EWU hasn't found garnered momentum this season, as it has yet to win back-to- back games. the team is in the midst of its worst stretch of the year, having lost five of six since the beginning of December, although that lone win came in conference over Idaho State on Dec. 22, 57-54.
Most recently, the Eagles battled Montana on Thursday night and came away with an 81-66 defeat in a game they never led. Despite outshooting the Grizzlies from the field, .457 to .440, the Eagles suffered a double-digit loss by losing the turnover battle, 11-5, and shooting just 4-of-16 from 3-point range. Venky Jois (16 points, seven rebounds) and Thomas Reuter (14 points, eight boards) were both solid in defeat, and Collin Chiverton returned to the lineup after missing the past six games with an injury to net 15 points from off the bench.
Montana State has struggled this season as well, but things have been looking up of late. After dropping seven of their first nine matchups, the Bobcats responded with back-to-back wins for the first time all year.
In the second of a three-game homestand on Thursday, MSU led by 14 with 7:35 left only to allow Portland State to go on a 15-1 run to tie the game, 53-53, with just over three minutes remaining. However, the Bobcats answered immediately with eight straight points to secure the win. Flavien Davis netted 16 points, Christian Moon had 15 and Paul Egwuonwu tallied 14 points and seven rebounds, but the rest of the squad put up just 17 points total.
With regard to the all-time series between these two schools, Montana State holds a 42-31 advantage, although the Eagles recorded a season-sweep of the Bobcats last year.
EWU plays an up-tempo style that results in a respectable scoring average of 70.3 ppg, but that is mostly due to a large volume of shots, as its .392 field goal percentage leaves much to be desired. The style of play also leaves it vulnerable at the defensive end, as it allows a league-worst 80.1 ppg. Justin Crosgile has stuffed the stat sheet with 14.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 5.5 apg and 1.7 spg, while Jois has been strong in the frontcourt with 13.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.1 spg and 1.7 bpg. The return of Chiverton should help the Eagles, as he nets 11.6 ppg on 42.5 percent efficiency from 3-point range.
Montana State has been one of the few Big Sky teams better at the offensive end of the court than EWU has been, as its 73.6 ppg ranks second behind only Weber State. It's no coincidence that the Bobcats have won two of three since Moon made his season-debut on Dec. 19, as he's put up 13.7 ppg on 56.5 percent shooting from the field since his return to the lineup. With Antonio Biglow (12.3 ppg, 3.4 apg) questionable for this game due to disciplinary reasons, MSU may need to rely on bigger contributions from Xavier Blount (12.1 ppg), Jamie Stewart (9.4 ppg) and Davis (9.4 ppg).
EWU has shown the ability to score with anyone, but it continues to find itself on the losing end of its shootouts. Expect the Eagles' road woes to continue here as the Bobcats seem to be hitting their stride.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana State 78, Eastern Washington 73
01/05 10:32:39 ET