Griz Host Cats and Square off for the 290th Time on the Hardwood

By DAVE GUFFEY

THE GAME: The University of Montana Grizzlies (7-8/3-1 BSC) will host the Montana State Bobcats (3-13/0-4) in a Big Sky Conference game in UM’s Dahlberg Arena, with tip-off at 7:05 p.m.

UP NEXT: The Grizzlies host Northern Arizona on Thursday, Jan. 22, in the only regular-season meeting between the teams this season.

GRIZ LAST GAME: At Montana 86, Montana Tech 44: UM out-scored Tech 20-2 in the final minutes of the first half and jumped to a 41-23 halftime lead. The Griz continued their scoring run into the second half, and took a 41-point lead (71-30) with 8:58 left to play on a 3-pointer by forward Mike Weisner and out-scored Tech 30-7 during that run. The Griz had four of their five starters score in double figures, led by guard Jordan Gregory, with 24 points, along with forwards Martin Breunig (14 points) and Fabijan Krslovic (a season-high 13), and guard Mario Dunn (10).

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GRIZ IN NCAA RANKINGS (in top 50 & as of 1/12/15): Breunig is ranked eighth in the nation in field goal percentage at 63.1% and he’s 46th in scoring (18.1 ppg). Gregory is 49th in 3-pointers made per game (2.79). Montana is ranked 23rd in fewest turnovers (165) and 24th in 3-pointers per game (8.4).

GRIZ-CAT SERIES: MSU leads 147-142, but the Griz have won eight in a row and 12 of the last 15. LAST YEAR: Montana 70, at Montana State 66 and at Montana 53, Montana State 50.

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RADIO: Veteran Mick Holien calls the play-by-play, while Greg Sundberg provides color commentary. Follow the action on Montana’s flagship stations KGVO 1290 AM/ & 101.5 FM, and the Grizzly Radio Network from Learfield Sports. (Griz BB Network on page 7 of weekly release).

STREAMING: The Griz-Cat game is available via streaming on gogriz.com via a subscription or on WatchBigSky.com.

TV: The game will be aired by Cowles Montana Media, with Chris Byers calling the play-by-play and Dominic Shelden serving as the color analyst. The game will be aired on ABC stations in Montana, except for in Billings and parts of Eastern Montana where it can be seen on SWX.

QUOTING GRIZ HEAD COACH TRAVIS DECUIRE:

decuire_travisYOU HAVE BEEN IN MANY GRIZ-CAT GAMES AS A PLAYER, IS BEING THE HEAD COACH A LOT DIFFERENT: “It’s a little different. It’s the same intensity, just my approach is a little different. For me, I probably need to he as level-headed as anyone in the gym. But, the experience, the preparation, and the excitement are all thesame.”

IT LOOKS LIKE FOUR OF MSU’S STARTERS & THEIR SIXTH MAN ALL SHOOT THE BALL FROM 3-POINT RANGE. DOES THAT CREATE MATCH-UP PROBLEMS? “They run a shooter’s offense. They spread the floor, and they run a lot of screens for guys to get shots on counters from their cuts or what-not. It’s a good offense. They space the floor well. Any time you’ve got three, four of five three-point shooters on the floor they’re going to be hard to guard.”

YOUR TEAM HAS MADE 26 TREYS IN ITS LAST TWO GAMES AND WON FOUR OF ITS LAST FIVE. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THEY ARE GAINING MOMENTUM? “I think we’re getting better in terms of our offensive execution, and moving the ball around, and getting shots for the right guys. So we’re happy with the way we are heading. We just need to maintain our intensity and continue to focus for long stretches of the game.”

IT SEEMS LIKE YOU ARE GETTING BETTER PLAY FROM THE BENCH, AND YOUR PLAYERS HAVE FIGURED OUT THEIR ROLES NOW: “I think that once the rules were established guys were a lot more confident. Some of them have less expected of them than others, and sometimes you need to have comfort in that situation. At the end of the day it’s all about what we can do to make each other better basketball players, and I think we are getting there.”

IT MUST BE NICE TO HAVE MIKE WEISNER (HE MISSED FIVE GAMES DUE TO AN INJURY) BACK IN THE LINE-UP: “I’d like to see him a little better shape, but you know he was off that (injured) foot for so long his wind has not been there, but he’s headed in the right direction. We’re happy to have him back. He provides a lot of versatility for us and multiple positions. It’s always nice to have another shooter on the floor.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE KEYS TO THE GAME FOR YOUR TEAM MIGHT BE?: “We’ve got to minimize their uncontested threes. They’re going to spread the floor and try to iso (isolate) and drive. So, it’s contain the ball, but at the same time not let them shoot threes, which is tough to do because they kind of come together. But, for us it’s a big game. It’s an opportunity for us to have our longest (win) streak of the year, and gain some momentum going into next week with other teams (Northern Arizona and Southern Utah) coming in. There’s a chance for us to hold down our fort. It’s a big game in all directions. But, for us it’s really minimize their three-point attempts and contain penetration.”