Devon Collier led the Beavers in scoring in their last game against Towson. Angus Brandt led Oregon St. in last year's game at Montana. If both play well again tonight, the Beavers' chances of beating the Grizzlies will be much better. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Montana (4-3) at Oregon St. (5-1) at 5 PM PDT / ROOT Sports Northwest / KEJO 1240 AM / KPAM 860 (Streamed)
The Montana Grizzlies from the Big Sky Conference visit Gill Coliseum this evening to take on Oregon St.
The Grizz are coming off a 65-62 home loss Thursday night to San Francisco. The Dons led most of the game, but couldn't ever pull away. Montana rallied to pull ahead down the stretch, but San Francisco in turn rallied to pull the game out. The Grizzlies have now lost 2 of their last 3 games.
The Beavers are back in action for the first time in over a week, after beating Towson 66-46 on Civil War Saturday, with coach Craig Robinson's family, sister Michelle and brother in law/President Barack Obama in attendance. The win gave Oregon St. a 2-1 mark on a road trip that included finishing second in the Ticket City Classic, after losing by a basket to Vanderbilt.
Oregon St. was led in the win over the Tigers by Devon Collier's 51 points. Jared Cunningham and Roberto Nelson added 12 points, and Joe Burton chipped in with 10. The Beavers controlled the game, taking a 32-20 halftime lead, and were never really threatened by still winless Towson.
Oregon St. kicks off a 5 game home stand tonight, but are then off for finals week, with their next action next Friday night, when Idaho, another Big Sky team, visits Gill Coliseum.
Last year, the Beavers lost to the Grizzlies 71-66 up in Missoula. The Grizz, who were on their way to a 21-11 season, and a CBI Tournament berth, behind a 27 point performance by Center Brian Qyale. Fortunately for the Beavers, Qyale, a 6'11" post whom Oregon St. had no answer for, has graduated.
Montana returns 3 starters and a key reserve from last year's team, which finished second in the Big Sky Conference.
6'1" guard Will Cherry, who had 22 points against the Beavers last year, returns to run the team. 6'5" sophomore swing man Kareem Jamar, who had 6 points and 5 assists against Oregon St. last year also returns, and has taken on a larger role. He had 12 points against San Francisco. Cherry and Jamar are 1-2 for the Grizz this year in both scoring and assists, and Jamar is also the team's leading rebounder.
7'0" senior forward Derek Selvig is the third returning starter for Montana. Selvig had 9 points and 5 rebounds in last year's win over the Beavers, and 6 of each against USF.
Art Steward, a 6'4" senior forward who was on the Montana bench last year, has moved into the starting lineup for the Grizzlies, and led them with a 17 point, 10 rebound double double against San Francisco.
Angus Brandt and Nelson both came off the bench in last year's game, and co-led the Beavers, with 13 points apiece. Cunningham was the only Oregon St. starter in double figures, barely, with 10 points. Calvin Haynes also had 10 points off the bench.
This is a game Oregon St. is be favored in, but Montana represents a legitimate challenge. It's a game the Beavers must have a good effort in or an upset could be imminent. As the only game on the Montana schedule against a Pac-12 or other "power conference" opponent, the Grizzlies will also make this contest a priority. A win could make a difference in tournament selection, and certainly in recruiting.
If your looking in on ROOT after a long day of Christmas shopping and decorating, here's the place to get excited about each basket, and watch for any Cunningham highlight reel moments.