Griz Host Southern Utah Saturday, Jan 24

By DAVE GUFFEY

THE GAME: The University of Montana Grizzlies (9-8/5-1 BSC) host the Southern Utah Thunderbirds (5-12/2-4) in a Big Sky Conference game on Saturday, Jan. 24, in UM’s Dahlberg Arena, with tip-off at 7:05 p.m.

UP NEXT? Montana is on the road for a pair of Big Sky games at Portland State on Thursday, Jan. 29, and at Sacramento State on Saturday, Jan. 31. Just like UM’s two recent home games against NAU and SUU, next week’s games are the only regular-season match-ups for the Griz against the Vikings and Hornets.

GRIZ LAST GAME: At Montana 64, Northern Arizona 57: Jordan Gregory scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Grizzlies. Martin Breunig was UM’s other double-figure scorer with 16 points. Fabijan Krslovic led UM with 7 rebounds.

GREGORY NEARING 1,000 POINTS: Gregory has 970 career points and needs 30 more to become the 29th player to score 1,000 or more career points at UM.

GRIZ IN NCAA RANKINGS: Bruenig is ranked 10th in field goal percentage (59.7%) and 63rd in scoring (17.6 ppg). Gregory is ranked 22nd in three-pointers made per game (3.06) and 66th in scoring (17.5 ppg). Montana is ranked 25th in treys per game (8.4) and 32nd in fewest turnovers (201).

RADIO: Veteran Mick Holien calls the action on UM’s flagship stations KGVO 1290 AM/ & 101.5 FM, on the Grizzly Radio Network from Learfield Sports.

STREAMING/TV: The Griz-T-Birds game is available via streaming on gogriz.com via a subscription or on WatchBigSky.com. There is no television coverage.

SERIES: Montana leads 9-5 and has won the last four in a row.

LAST SEASON: Montana 69, at S. Utah 61 & at Montana 82, S. Utah 54.

OF NOTE: The Thunderbirds were picked last in the Big Sky’s media and coaches preseason polls, but returns five starters.

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QUOTING GRIZ HEAD COACH TRAVIS DECUIRE:

Travis DeCuireSOUTHERN UTAH HAS DEFEATED WEBER STATE (70-60) THIS SEASON AND GAVE NAU (A 70-67 LOSS) A BATTLE. THEY LOOK LIKE A DANGEROUS BASKETBALL TEAM: “They’ve got guys who can shoot the ball. They run good offense, and do some stuff similar to what we do so there will be some familiarities there. But, on the flip side they will be familiar with what we are trying to accomplishtoo.

“I think their team just continues to get better. Anyone can beat anyone in this league. And that’s what I continue to tell these guys, that anyone can beta anyone and anyone can lose to anyone – and we’ve just got to stay focused.”

IT SEEMS LIKE THEY LOOK TO 6-6 GUARD A.J. HESS AND 6-8 FORWARD CASEY OLIVERSON FOR A LOT OF THERE SCORING: “When you look at a team that’s shooting almost 80 percent (Oliverson is shooting 76.0% from the field in league games) inside – he’s scoring almost every time he touches it. We’ve got to minimize his (Oliverson) touches, and we’ve got to do some things to kind of make it hard for him when it does go in there. We’ve got to get better defensively in the paint, and they’re going to challenge us in that regard.”

IT SEEMS LIKE THE T-BIRDS PLAY A LOT OF PLAYERS (13 PLAYED AT MSU) AND TRY TO KEEP THE DEFENSIVE PRESSURE VERY INTENSE: “They definitely have fouls to give, and that can be an issue for us because we’ve got a few guys we are trying to keep on the floor for over 30 minutes. So when they foul you sometime that wears you down a little bit too, where it’s frustrating. We’ve just got to learn to play through that stuff. I think they’re going to throw the kitchen sink at us, and probably play very physical on both sides of the ball, and forced us to bring some guys off the bench or play guys a lot of minutes.”

ON THE WIN OVER NAU: “We showed some mental toughness, and played for through some adversity. They (NAU) did a really good job with their style of play. They took Martin (Breunig) away early. They took away our half-court offense early. They forced us to score in some different ways than we’ve had to in quite some time. Without those adjustments offensively we could have gotten blown out. So I thought they did a good job, and our guys responded at halftime to the adversity very well.”