GAME NOTES: With its Big Sky Conference title hopes still alive, North Dakota will welcome in the Montana State Bobcats for a league clash at the Sioux Center.
Last time out, North Dakota claimed an 80-75 victory over Idaho State to earn a split of its recent four-game road trip. The team is only 10-12 overall, but at 7-5 in league play it finds itself in a four-way tie for second place in the standings. Montana pulls into the Sioux Center on Saturday for the next game on the schedule.
Montana State had lost five of six games before pulling out a 69-64 victory over Portland State last Saturday. Despite a slightly better overall record (11-12) than their counterpart tonight, the Bobcats are a game back in the league standings, where they are tied for sixth place with Portland State and Sacramento State (6-6). They will visit Northern Colorado next.
When these teams met in Bozeman earlier this season, North Dakota claimed a 72-69 victory, its 10th in 18 all-time meetings with Montana State.
Paul Egwuonwu scored 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as one of four players in double figures during Montana State's win over Portland State. The Bobcats connected on 47.1 percent of their shots from the field, while holding the Vikings to 38.3 percent.
The offensive output Montana State managed against Portland State was right in line with its season averages. The Bobcats are netting 69.5 ppg and shooting 44.6 percent from the floor, ranking eighth and ninth in the conference, respectively. Flavien Davis (11.9 ppg) is the only member of the team scoring at least 10 ppg. He just managed to reach double figures against Portland State, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Egwuonwu (9.5 ppg, 7 rpg) and Marcus Colbert (9.4 ppg, 3.1 apg) are not potent scorers, but they can fill it up when given the chance.
North Dakota shot a scorching 58.7 percent from the floor, which was more than 10 percentage points higher than Idaho State, in last Saturday's victory. Troy Huff led four players in double figures by netting 22 points. The win came despite an incredible 48-19 deficit on the glass for North Dakota.
Huff (19.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is no stranger to big offensive outbursts, as he is turning in an all-conference caliber season, ranking second in the Big Sky in scoring. Huff is also among the top-10 in the league in rebounding (7.5 rpg) while leading in steals (2.3 spg). His 22 points against Idaho State marked his 11th 20-point showing of the season. Jaron Nash (11.3 ppg) and Aaron Anderson (10.6 ppg) are also averaging in double figures, with Nash shooting the best percentage from the floor (.538) among the regular starters. However, it was Anderson that reached 10 points against Idaho State.
Considering North Dakota was able to beat Montana State on the road earlier this season, it is difficult to believe the result will change now that it is at home. Expect Huff and company to put forth a strong offensive effort en route to the victory.
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