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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 23, 9:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Holt Arena (12,000) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: Montana 5-3, Idaho State 5-1. Away Record: Montana 2-5. Idaho State 1-7. Neutral Record: Montana 0-0, Idaho State 0-1. Conference Record: Montana 2-4, Idaho State 3-3. Series Record: Montana leads, 95-44.
GAME NOTES: The Montana Grizzlies embark on a season-long four-game road trip starting on Thursday night in a Big Sky Conference bout with the Idaho State Bengals at Holt Arena.
A season removed from a 25-win season and a conference tournament championship, Montana has struggled during the 2013-14 campaign, as it sits with just a 7-8 overall record and a 2-4 mark in the league. The Grizzlies are currently losers of three of their last four, most recently suffering an 84-73 setback at home versus Northern Colorado on Saturday.
Idaho State has fared worse than Montana in terms of its overall record (6-9), but it has treaded water in the Big Sky at 3-3. The Bengals dropped a 65-59 decision at Weber State Monday night, but now they return to Pocatello, where they've won five of six.
Montana leads the all-time series with Idaho State, 95-44, which includes wins in both of last season's matchups.
The Grizzlies held a four-point lead over Northern Colorado early in the second half but lost control when the Bears ripped off an 18-4 run. They shot an impressive 53.2 percent from the field, but only 5-of-21 from 3-point range, and UNC was even more impressive from the field (.580) in the high- scoring contest. Kareem Jamar did his best to keep the squad in it, shooting 8-of-12 from the field on his way to 23 points. Keron DeShields and Jordan Gregory were also stellar with 19 and 17 points, respectively.
Montana has established a similar theme this season, as it boasts an impressive offense (.484 FG percentage, 73.2 ppg) only to hurt itself with poor play on the other end of the floor (.490, 72.7 ppg). It is also regularly outmanned on the glass, owning a -7.7 rebounding margin. Jamar is the Big Sky's third-leading scorer with 19.8 ppg while also finding time to dish out 4.5 apg. Gregory (14.5 ppg) has a team-best 33 3-pointers, while DeShields posts 13.2 ppg on 51.4 percent from the field.
The Bengals trailed Weber State for the entire second half in their most recent contest, and while they were able to cut their deficit from 12 with under seven minutes to play to just two with 46 seconds left, they could not complete the comeback. They shot a mere 40.4 percent from the field and were outrebounded by a 38-27 margin. Chris Hansen shined despite the setback, draining 5-of-10 from beyond the arc en route to 27 points. Tomas Sanchez put up 12 points and Jeffrey Solarin tallied eight points and nine rebounds.
Idaho State is built in a similar mold as Montana, as it enjoys its share of scoring success (.461, 71.9 ppg) only to allow nearly as many points to its opponents (70.4 ppg). It helps its cause, however, by boasting positive rebounding (+2.7) and turnover (+1.1) margins as well as an impressive percentage from 3-point range (.394). Hansen paces four players in double figures with 17.0 ppg and ranks second in the league in 3-pointers made (45). Sanchez (15.1 ppg) hands out 4.8 apg, while Andre Hatchett (14.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Solarin (10.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg) patrol the paint.
With Montana's struggles on the road (2-5) matched up against an Idaho State squad that has performed well in front of its home fans, expect the Bengals to outlast the Grizzlies in a high-scoring affair.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Idaho State 78, Montana 75
01/23 10:19:30 ET
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