The Griz at University of North Dakota Thursday, Feb 12

By DAVE GUFFEY

THE GAME: The University of Montana Grizzlies (12-10/8-3 BSC) face the University of North Dakota (8-14/4-7) in a Big Sky Conference contest, Thursday, Feb. 12, in UND’s Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, with tip-off at 6:05 p.m. (Mtn.).

UP NEXT? Montana is at Northern Colorado (12-10/7-4) on Saturday, Feb. 14.

OF NOTE: Five of UM’s final regular-season games are on the road.

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: Video streaming is available on WatchBigSky.com and video and audio streaming is on gogriz.com (with a subscription).  It will be televised on Mid Sports Network/Fox College Sports Pacific.

GRIZ-UND LAST TIME: At Montana 74, North Dakota 63: Forward Martin Breunig scored a game-high 23 points and Jordan Gregory added 19 points to lead the Griz.  Guard Terrel de Rouen led UND with 17 points.  UM out-rebounded UND 33-20, and UND’s 20 rebounds are the fewest by an opponent this season.

GREGORY UPDATE: Gregory, a senior from Pueblo, Colo., has scored 1,035 career points, which ranks him 26th on UM’s career list.  He is the 29th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.  (See page 3 of the weekly release).

GRIZ IN NCAAS (thru games of 2/10/15):  Bruenig is ranked 17th in field goal percentage (58.5%) and 95th in scoring (16.9 ppg).  Gregory is 47th in three-pointers made per game (2.68).  Montana is ranked 24th in treys per game (8.5), 46th in fewest turnovers (265), and 59th in TO margin (1.8).

Griz_vs_NDSU

Quoting Head Coach Travis Decuire:

Travis DeCuireON UND & UNC GAMES: “I’ve made the comment to the assistants about last weekend that both of these teams are pretty tough, because NAU is playing really good ball (UND lost 88-63 at Northern Arizona last Saturday and UNC lost 65-60 in Flagstaff last Thursday).  So it’s hard to tell where these two teams are based on that trip.  I think they are both dangerous, and no one has done any better than a split on this trip.  It’s going to be important for us to come in ready to play bothnights.”

UND HAS A THREE-GUARD LINE-UP AND LIKES TO TAKE THE BALL TO THE BASKET A LOT: “After watching film from that game (UND at Montana on Jan. 3), I think that they did attack us off the dribble and they missed some shots.  We got our hands on a lot of balls, but the penetration was an issue in that game – and that’s an area of improvement for us on this whole, entire trip – is ball screen, defense, and penetration.”

YOUR TEAM IS CURRENTLY IN THIRD PLACE IN THE BIG SKY & IN THE THICK OF THE LEAGUE RACE: “We’re happy with where we are at.  We’d like to look back and say ‘what if?’  But for us it’s more about continuing to improve, and peaking at the right time, which will be in the conference tournament.”

THE GRIZ LEAD THE LEAGUE IN SCORING DEFENSE (ALLOWING 65.1 PPG).  IS THAT ONE OF THE REASONS FOR YOUR SUCCESS SO FAR IN CONFERENCE PLAY?: “It’s helped us tremendously.  We’ve had long stretches where we haven’t been able to put it in the basket, and still been able to make runs and kept ourselves in the game with our defense.  We knew that was an area of emphasis just to get better – we didn’t know that we would improve as much as we did.  You can’t win championships without defense, and it’s something to establish our program with.”

YOUR KEY OR KEYS GOING INTO THE UND GAME?: “North Dakota (the key), it is going to be penetration.  They’re going to try to do that off the bounce, off the pitch, or use their ball screens to try to gain an advantage.  We’ve just got to keep the ball out of the paint as much as possible, and contest threes.”