Griz at Texas A & M for NIT First Round Match-Up

By DAVE GUFFEY

THE GAME: The University of Montana Grizzlies (20-12) play the  Texas A&M Aggies in a first round NIT game on Tuesday,  March 17, in the Aggies’ Reed Arena (12,989), with tip-off at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain Time).

GRIZ IN THE NIT: The Griz are 0-4 in the NIT Tournament.

The scores:

1994-95: at UTEP 90, Montana 60

2015-03-17_18061988-89: Stanford 79, at Montana63^

1985-86: TCU 76, at Montana 69

1984-85: at UCLA 78, Montana 47

^=Preseason NIT game

UP NEXT?: The winner of the Griz-Aggies game will play the winner of the Central Michigan (23-8) at Louisiana Tech (25-8) game on a day and time TBA.

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

TV: The game will be televised on ESPNU, with Mitch Holthus calling the play-by-play and Sean Harrington serving as the color analyst.

GRIZ LAST GAME: Eastern Washington 69, at Montana 65: Guards Tyler Harvey and Drew Brandon combined for 34 points to lead the visiting Eagles to a come-from-behind win over the Grizzlies in the championship game of the Big Sky Conference’s postseason tournament.  Montana was on its way to its 11th NCAA berth, as UM took an 11-point lead at 59-48 with 6:15 left to play on a lay-up by junior forward Martin Breunig, but the Eagles outscored the Griz 17-4 after that to secure the win.  Breunig had a game-high 23 points and pulled down a game and career-high 17 rebounds to register his sixth double-double of the season.

BIG SKY TOURNEY NOTES: Montana was playing in its 17th Big Sky tournament championship game against EWU – – the most in Big Sky history. The Grizzlies most recent titles (and NCAA berths) came in 2010, 2012, and 2013.  UM was making its 14th straight appearance in the league tourney — the longest streak by any team.

DECUIRE IN ELITE GROUP: Coach Travis DeCuire’s 20 wins this season are the second most by a first-year coach at UM.  The top four: Blaine Taylor (27-4, 1991-92),  Stew Morrill (18-11, 1986-87), and Larry Krystkowiak (18-13, 2004-05).

 

MONTANA GRIZZLIES (20-12)                  PPG       RPG       MISC. 

F-12-Martin Breunig, 6-8, 217, Jr., RS/TR     16.8        7.4          12th in NCAA: 59.0 FG%

F-20-Fabijan Krslovic, 6-8, 240, Fr., HS         4.8          4.8          T-16th in Sky in rpg

G-1-Mario Dunn, 6-0, 171, So, 1V                   9.0          3.9          3.8 apg/1.7 stls. pg

G-10-Jordan Gregory, 6-2, 194, Sr., 3V           16.9        3.3          4th in Sky in ppg

G-34-Brandon Gfeller, 6-4, 190, So., 1V        8.7          2.8          14th Sky: 41.4 3PT%

6-33-Mike Weisner, F, 6-7, 193, Sr., 3V          6.7          2.4          18 pts. in EWU loss

6-2-Riley Bradshaw, G, 6-2, 180, So., 1V       3.1          1.2          10 points in NAU win

6-24-Chris Kemp, F, 6-7, 236, Sr., 1V              3.1          1.7          57.4 FG%

6-31-Jack Lopez, F, 6-5, 200, So., 1V             1.7          1.6          Avgs. 10.6 mins. pg

Head Coach: Travis DeCuire (Montana, 1994): 20-12, 1st year at UM.

 

TEXAS A&M  AGGIES  (20-11)                    PPG       RPG       MISC.  

F-14-Kourtney Roberson, 6-9, 247, Sr., 3V    8.9          6.4          63.1 FG%

G/F-12-Jalen Jones, 6-7, 223, Jr., TR              13.3        6.6          151 FT attempts

G-5-Jordan Green, 6-5, 191, Sr., 3V                 5.5          1.7          77.8 FT%

G-21-Alex Caruso, 6-5, 185, Jr., 2V                 9.5          4.7          Started all 31 games

G-22-Peyton Allen, 6-5, 202, Fr., HS               4.4          0.8          Has 6 starts

Head Coach: Billy Kennedy (SE Louisiana, 1986)/4th year at A&M: 70-60.

SERIES: First meeting.

QUOTING HEAD COACH TRAVIS DECUIRE:

BBQON PLAYING IN THE NIT: “At this point we’re happy about postseason play.  We’re over last (Saturday) night.  I kind of went into it where we play, and I just want the team to be excited and go get after it.  I don’t know much about Texas A&M.  It’s going to be a long trip.  That’s where the NIT – the travel sometimes beats some teams.  We’ve just have to handle it the best we can, and go in fresh and ready tocompete.”

IS IT KIND OF A NOTHING TO LOSE KIND OF GAME?: “I think it’s an opportunity to be loose.  As tight as this weekend was with what we had on the line.   I think that now it’s kind of just turn the guys loose, let’s get a fresh workout in, and put together a game plan, and let the ball rise and see what happens.”

IS IT TOUGH TO GET THE GUYS BACK PHYSICALLY TO PLAY, OR MENTALLY TO PLAY?: “I think it’s usually mentally, after a letdown like we had last night.   I think there was a point in time where the guys felt realistic about their opportunity to be in the NCAA Tournament and see it disappear as quickly as it did.  I think we were in shock in the locker-room last night.  So you’ve got guys who wake up this morning, and they know it really happened.  The question is, how do we recover.    We had a pretty quiet locker-room.

“Right now the guys are starting to look forward to this opportunity.  For Montana to be in the NIT in a year that they didn’t win the tournament, is a pretty good opportunity.”