Montana Looks to Extend Streak vs. Montana State


With three weeks to play in the regular season, Montana has hit the home stretch and is in a good spot with six games remaining. The Grizzlies have won nine consecutive games dating back to Jan. 12, and now get to play their next four games at home.

First up is rival Montana State (Saturday, 7 p.m.), but it’s far from the only important game up ahead. Just 48 hours after the Griz and Cats square off, Montana will host second-place Northern Colorado.

If a rivalry atmosphere isn’t enough, perhaps the style of play is even more incentive to watch this year’s Brawl of the Wild. The two teams rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the Big Sky Conference for scoring offense, with the Cats averaging 82.1 points per league game and the Griz averaging 81.4.

MSU relies on a two-person approach of Tyler Hall (20.3 points per game) and Harald Frey (18.3) – the only school to have two players ranked in the top five for scoring. Meanwhile, Montana is the only school with school to have five players average double figures for scoring.

The Cats also rank first in the Big Sky for assists, turnover margin, assist-to-turnover ratio and three-pointers made. It’s easy to see why Montana is at the top of the league, ranking in the top two for 15 of the 21 statistical categories, including first for scoring margin, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and a handful of rebounding categories.

In the initial meeting between the two schools, just three weeks ago, Montana went to Bozeman and hung on for a five-point win. In the victory, Montana shot 50 percent from the floor and benefitted from four players in double figures for scoring, including 20 points and nine boards from Ahmaad Rorie. On defense, the Grizzlies limited Hall to five points in the first half – after he scored 21 in the first – and got stops on MSU’s final two defensive possessions to seal the win.

The rivalry has been one-sided over the past several years, with Montana winning 16 of the past 17 meetings overall, and eight in a row at home. The Grizzlies will look to keep that going on Saturday, in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd. As of Thursday afternoon, less than 100 reserved tickets remained for the game. The remaining tickets, as well as general admission tickets, can be purchased through the Adams Center box office, online or over the phone. The game is being labeled as a Maroon Out, with fans encouraged to wear maroon. Students get in free with a valid Griz Card; additionally free pizza, T-shirts, head bands and cash prizes will be available.

Just as important as Saturday’s rivalry game, though, will be Montana’s next several games. On Monday, Montana hosts second-place Northern Colorado, with a chance to expand its lead in the conference standings. Next Saturday, March 2, Montana will recognize its outstanding senior class which has been one of the winningest in school history.


  • At 9-6, Montana State sits in fourth place in the Big Sky standings. The Bobcats won four games in a row from Feb. 4-14 and overall have won five of their past seven.
  • MSU leads the Big Sky with 82.1 points per league game and is the only team to have two players average at least 18 points. Tyler Hall ranks third with 20.3 points per game, while Harald Frey is fifth with 18.3.
  • Hall holds numerous MSU school records and is the Big Sky’s all-time leading scorer with more than 2,300 career points scored.
  • In addition to his 18.3 points per game, Frey ranks second in the Big Sky with 5.4 assists per game and has a league-best 3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. MSU leads the conference for assists.
  • Ladan Ricketts ranks fourth in the Big Sky with a .446 three-point shooting percentage. He averages 1.9 makes per game, while Hall averages a league-best 3.4.
  • Devin Kirby is shooting .571 from the floor during league play, the eighth-best percentage in the Big Sky, and ranks 11th with 0.8 blocked shots per game.
  • The Cats are coached by Brian Fish, who is 62-88 in four-plus seasons in Bozeman.

For a series that has been played continuously for more than a century, it’s remarkable how close the rivalry has been. Saturday will be the 299th all-time meeting between the Grizzlies and Bobcats, with the Grizzlies holding a 150-148 advantage. The series began in 1902-03 and has been played at least once in all but five seasons over the past 108 years, including every season since 1960.

Overall, the Grizzlies have won 16 of the past 17 in the series, dating back to the 2010-11 season, and have won eight in a row at home. All-time Montana is 92-48 vs. the Cats in Missoula.

  • Travis DeCuire is 14-3 all-time vs. Montana State, going 6-2 as a player and 8-1 as a coach.
  • Senior Ahmaad Rorie has been in double figures all five games vs. MSU, averaging 18.6 points per game, including 28 in his first meeting vs. the Bobcats, in January 2017 and a team-high 20 earlier this month in Bozeman.
  • Michael Oguine is averaging 16.4 points in seven games vs. MSU, including 20-plus points on three occasions.
  • In two games vs. the Cats a year ago, Bobby Moorehead averaged 10.0 points and 9.5 rebounds, also playing lock-down defense on the 2018 Preseason Player of the Year Tyler Hall.
  • Timmy Falls led the Griz with 14 points, including nine during a 13-0 first-half run, during last year’s meeting vs. MSU in Missoula.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, Montana is in a good spot, having won nine consecutive games. The Grizzlies are alone in first place, 1.5 games ahead of second-place Northern Colorado and 2.5 games up on Weber State. Montana plays Northern Colorado on Monday.

At 12-2, Montana sits on top of the Big Sky standings, and it’s easy to see why. Of the 21 statistical categories, Montana ranks in the top two of 15 of them. The Grizzlies lead the league for scoring margin, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounding offense, rebounding defense, rebounding margin and defensive rebounding percentage.

When Kendal Manuel hit a three-pointer early in Montana’s Jan. 19 win at Idaho, he tied the score at 10-10. Little would he know that it started a stretch of more than 116 minutes – nearly three entire games – in which the Grizzlies never trailed. Montana played from in front for the final 35 minutes vs. the Vandals and never trailed in wins over Idaho State and Weber State.

During Montana’s nine-game winning streak, the Griz have trailed for just 29 minutes, 2 seconds (approximately 8 percent of game action). Prior to Montana’s most-recent game, at Idaho State, it had trailed for just 14 minutes and never by more than four points.

To no surprise, Sayeed Pridgett was again named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on Tuesday, earning back-to-back honors and his third in the past six weeks.

For the week, Pridgett averaged 25.5 points on .667 shooting, also pulling down 11.5 rebounds per game and dishing out 3.5 assists in road wins over Weber State and Idaho State. His week included 22 points on 11-of-15 shooting vs. the Bengals and career highs for points (29) and re-bounds (16) at Weber State.

Pridgett is the first Griz player to win three player-of-the-week awards in a single season since Kareem Jamar in 2013-14. He is the first Griz to win the award in back-to-back weeks since Brian Qvale in January 2011.

A win Saturday would give Montana its 20th victory of the season, an impressive accomplishment, but one that’s become the norm in Missoula. The Grizzlies will have won at least 20 games in three of the past four seasons, something that has been accomplished just five other times in the history of Griz basketball.

Montana is a program full of rich history, but the current group is part of an historic stretch. Montana – particularly seniors Bobby Moorehead and Michael Oguine who have been on roster the whole time – has won 82 games over the past four seasons and is on pace for one of the best four-year stretches in school history.

Perhaps the most telling stat for Montana’s success relies, to no surprise, on its defense. In 25 games, Montana’s opponents have been held below their season scoring average in 21 of them. Two of the games the Grizzlies failed to do so, opponents were less than one point above their average.

Montana’s defense can be felt across the board. The Grizzlies are limiting Big Sky opponents to 68.6 points per game (second), a .427 shooting percentage (second) and just 31.0 rebounds per game (first). The Grizzlies also have the best turnover margin (+3.2), averaging 6.7 steals per game.

Collectively, Montana’s defense went up against the 12th-toughest offensive schedule in the country during non-conference, with three of its opponents ranking in the top 20 nationally for scoring: Georgia Southern (87.0 points per game, 11th), Creighton (84.8, 14th) and South Dakota State (84.7, 16th). During an eight-game stretch from Dec. 3-Jan. 3, Montana held its opponents to 63.1 points per game.

Montana remains one of the top shooting teams in the country, shooting .489 from the field. The figure leads the Big Sky and ranks 14th nationally. The Grizzlies have made at least half of their shots in 13 games this season, including six consecutive games from Nov. 12 through Dec. 3 and six times during Big Sky play. Four starters are shooting over .475.

Not only does Montana hold one of the nation’s top field-goal percentages, but the Grizzlies are also getting production from multiple weapons. Montana is the only school to have four players rank in the top 25 in the Big Sky for scoring.

One of Montana’s only Achilles’ heels during the 2017-18 season was its lack of ability to shoot from deep. The Grizzlies made just 5.5 treys per game a year ago, a figure which ranked 331st nationally. A year later, Montana is now averaging 8.2 threes per game and is hitting at a .375 clip (45th). The Grizzlies have made at least eight three-pointers in 15 of 25 games this season. The team reached that total just four times in all of 2017-18.

Dating back to February 2017, Montana has won 24 of its past 25 games inside Dahlberg Arena. Prior to its overtime loss to Portland State (Jan. 5), the Grizzlies had won 20 in a row, the third-longest active streak in the NCAA and the fifth-best in school history.

Montana went a perfect 14-0 at home last season, marking the first time in 26 seasons and just the fifth time ever that a Grizzlies team has gone undefeated at home. The Grizzlies boast one of the nation’s best home-court advantages, going 709-246 (.742) all-time in their home arena, including 127-26 (.828) over the past decade.