Bobcats return to The Brick to welcome Portland State, northern Arizona
|Montana State Bobcats (18-5, 10-2) at Portland State VIkings (8-13, 6-7)|
|Saturday vs. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (8-15, 4-8)|
|date and time||Thursday, February 10 – 7 p.m. MT | Saturday February 12 – Noon MT|
|Television||N / A|
|Radio||KMMS 1450 AM | Bobcat Sports Radio Network|
|Listen live||Application of the university network|
|Live statistics||Statbroadcast (MSUBobcats.com)|
|state of montana||Game notes | Game Notes (against NAU) | Men’s basketball homepage|
|Northern Arizona||Men’s basketball homepage|
|Portland State||Men’s basketball homepage|
BOZEMAN, Mont. – Montana State is back at home, having extended their winning streak to nine games and their road winning streak to seven, for two straight games as the Bobcats prepare to face Portland State at 7 p.m. Thursday and Northern Arizona at 12 p.m. Saturday.
The Bobcats returned home after another undefeated road trip that extended their away program record. MSU beat Weber State, 78-57, on Saturday for just its third win in 14 seasons at Ogden. The ‘Cats continued Monday’s leading from start to finish in a 72-54 victory at Idaho State. MSU shot over 50% in both contests while keeping their enemies each within 37% from the field.
Montana State takes the home record to 8-1 in Thursday’s game against the Portland State Vikings. The Viks have the second longest active winning streak in the Big Sky having won four in a row. PSU currently has four players averaging in double digits in the league in Ezekial Alley (13.1), James Jean-Marie (13.0), Khalid Thomas (11.8) and Damion Squire (10.0).
The Bobcats outplayed the Vikings in their first meeting this season in Portland on Jan. 22. The contest at the Viking Pavilion featured a 35-32 margin in favor of MSU, but the ‘Cats extended things behind a 13-0 run and MSU stayed in double digits the rest of the way. Four Bobcats scored in double figures in the win.
“Portland State is playing as well as anyone in the conference right now,” the Montana State head coach said. Danny sprinkle noted. “They play a lot of five guards, they’re fast, they’re athletic, they play a hectic style. You can’t turn the ball against them. We had sloppy turnovers against them last time and they feed off of that. You really can’t let them play their game.”
MSU defeated Northern Arizona, 89-84, in Flagstaff on Jan. 20. The two teams face off Saturday with the Bobcats on a six-game winning streak against the Lumberjacks, their longest streak against NAU in the series all-time. MSU had just six turnovers in the teams’ first meeting, the lowest total for the Bobcats in a game since 2013. NAU’s leader in the contest was Jalen Cone who dropped 26 points to MSU. He is the team’s leading scorer with an average of 19.4 points per game. He is joined by Nik Main in double figures with an average of 11.8 per outing.
“They’re one of those teams that can beat anybody in the conference with their talent,” Sprinkle said.
“Jalen Cone can win any game for them. He’s a dynamic player. It’s fun to see him with Xavier (Bishop) on the pitch because they’re both around 5ft 7in, 5 8” but they’re dynamic. He’s a guy we definitely need to contain, and we did that for a half against them last time around, but he got going and it came down to the last minute of this game.
MSU’s nine-game winning streak is tied with its second-longest winning streak during its Division I era. The 2001-02 and 1986-87 teams also posted nine-game winning streaks. The most consecutive victories of the “Cats” is 12, won by the 1994-95 team, over the past 60 years.
MSU is currently 18-5 overall this season. That 23-game mark is MSU’s best since the 1986-87 season when that group started the year with a similar mark, ultimately opening the season 20-5 overall.
The Bobcats’ 10-2 start in the Big Sky game is also one of their best this century. MSU also opened the 2001-02 ledger with the same record and closed league play going 12-2 to claim the conference regular season title. This team went 20-10 overall.
Montana State has made its way into the conversation between some of the best middle and major teams in the country. The Bobcats were ranked No. 21 in the Feb. 7 CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.
The highest-rated team in Big Sky currently, the standings are the first on the Bobcat program in recent memory.
Danny sprinkle helped the Bobcats through a solid four-year run as a player and now he’s doing it on a historic level guiding the program. Sprinkle is the first Bobcat trainer to reach 47 wins before the end of his third season in over 84 years. His 47-30 mark is second only to Brick Breeden, who from 1935 to 1938 led the Bobcats to a 50-23 mark.
The Bobcats are led by a variety of players this season. Jubrile Belo (13.7), Xavier Bishop (13.6) and Amine Adamou (13.1) are leading in scoring during the BIg Sky game, while Belo is also averaging 7.4 boards per game in 12 contests. Battle of RaeQuanwho is fourth in scoring for MSU in the Big Sky game averaging 8.4 points, is 29 for 50 (58%) from the field and has averaged 12.8 points in the last six games off the bench .
MSU is currently ranked 118th in the NCAA net rankings. The ranking is the highest for MSU since 2002 and is among the best for the Bobcats of all time, behind their RPI at the end of the 1987 (63rd), 1996 (72nd) and 2002 (97th) seasons.
Montana State’s games against Portland State and Northern Arizona will be shown on ESPN+. The game will also air on the Bobcat Radio Network on KMMS 1450 AM as well as on the Varsity Network app. Links for live streams, live stats and radio coverage can be found on the men’s basketball schedule page on msubobcats.com.