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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dahlberg Arena (7,500) -- Missoula, Montana. Television: Altitude. Home Record: UNC 5-4, Montana 9-1. Away Record: UNC 1-10, Montana 7-2. Neutral Record: UNC 0-0, Montana 0-1. Conference Record: UNC 4-8, Montana 12-0. Series Record: Montana leads, 14-6.
GAME NOTES: Aiming to tie the longest winning streak in the history of Big Sky Conference play, the Montana Grizzlies settle in at Dahlberg Arena on Thursday night as they await the arrival of the Northern Colorado Bears.
Not only has Montana won 23 straight league outings, the team is also enjoying an overall win streak of 12 in a row which is second only to Akron which has recorded 13 straight victories. The Grizzlies, who are attempting to match the conference win streak set by Weber State between the 1967-68 to the 1969-70 seasons, last took the floor on Saturday versus Eastern Washington on the road and throttled the Eagles in a 65-46 final.
Needless to say, with an unblemished 12-0 mark in Big Sky play so far this season, Montana is all alone atop the league standings, with Weber State (10-2) the only foe closer than five games out of contention
As for the Bears, who are tied with EWU for eighth place in the conference with just four wins in 12 opportunities, they were in action against WSU last weekend and suffered an 85-64 loss at home. The setback was the third in the last four games for UNC, which has a total of six wins all season.
Montana leads the all-time series by a count of 14-6, winning three straight over the Bears. In Missoula, the hosts have won all but one of the eight encounters.
Northern Colorado scored the first points of the night against Weber State, but that was one of the only highlights for the Bears as they found themselves down by a score of 10-2 and never recovered. Paul Garnica and Emmanuel Addo both tallied 11 points off the bench for UNC, while Tevin Svihovec dropped in 10 points as the only starter in double figures. Derrick Barden was responsible for 12 rebounds for the Bears, the rest of the team just 15 boards, but Barden was far from efficient otherwise as he shot just 1-of-11 from the floor. Barden is averaging a double-double in conference play with 12.7 points and a team-best 10.2 rebounds per contest, but no one else on the roster is coming up with more than 4.6 rpg at the moment against league foes. Tate Unruh and Svihovec are responsible for 13.7 and 11.2 ppg, respectively, as the team generates 66.9 ppg.
Up against Eastern Washington in Cheney, Montana held the Eagles to just 37.5 percent shooting from the floor, including 4-of-16 behind the 3-point line, all while forcing 16 turnovers. Mathias Ward and Will Cherry led the way for the visitors with 13 points apiece, the latter adding seven assists and six rebounds as well, while reserves Mike Weisner and Keron DeShields tacked on 11 and 10 points, respectively. Outscoring league foes by close to 10 ppg at the moment, Montana has received a steady stream of offense from Ward with his 15.3 ppg, shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. Cherry checks in with not only 14.0 ppg, he is also responsible for a team-best 62 assists and 23 steals in conference play. Although he was held below double figures against Eastern Washington, Kareem Jamar is still a key figure for the group with his 12.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 43 dishes through 12 starts.
At some point Montana will have to bow to an opponent in conference play, but it won't be on Thursday night because the Bears just don't have the personnel to make it happen.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana 72, Northern Colorado 56
02/07 10:31:58 ET
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