GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- North Dakota heads to the Treasure State for a two-game Big Sky road swing, which starts Thursday against Montana. Tip-off against the Grizzlies is slated for 8 p.m. CT.
UND VS. MONTANA SERIES
All-time: Montana leads 15-6
In Missoula: Montana leads 11-1
Last Meeting: Montana 76, UND 70 (Jan. 14, 2017; Missoula)
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Montana: 2-10
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. DeCuire: 0-5
Montana Head Coach Travis DeCuire vs. UND: 5-0
Montana Head Coach Travis DeCuire vs. Jones: 5-0
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Radio: 100.3 FM (GF) | 740 AM (Fargo)
Live Stats: www.GoGriz.com
Live Stream: WatchBigSky.com | Pluto TV Ch. 237
IN THE PAINT...
• The Fighting Hawks arrive in Missoula looking to put a tough December in the rear view mirror. UND dropped all six games in the final month of the calendar year, including its first two league games at home.
• UND has only started Big Sky play 0-2 once before and that was in its inaugural season in 2012-13. It has never started 0-3 as a league member.
• The six-game losing skid is the longest for the program since dropping the final nine games of the 2014-15 season and the Fighting Hawks will look to snap that in a building that most visitors have seen limited success in over its history.
• UND is just 1-9 all-time in Dahlberg Arena, including all five matchups as a Big Sky member. Last season’s 76-70 setback was the closest UND has come to tasting victory in the venue.
• Montana is 5-0 at home this season and picked up a pair of road wins to open Big Sky play. The Griz are one of three league teams that got off to a 2-0 start.
• This is the sixth and final season in the Big Sky for the Fighting Hawks, who will join the Summit League in 2018-19.
• UND owns a 52-40 record in its first five seasons of league play, including its best showing of 14-4 during its title run last season. However, the Fighting Hawks are just 1-5 in Big Sky openers after falling to the Vandals on Dec. 29.
The Fighting Hawks went 11-2 at The Betty last season and own a 122-58 record in the building that opened prior to the 2004-05 season. UND won its eighth-consecutive home opener earlier this season, but the Fighting Hawks are just 1-4 since the 79-48 victory over Northland College on Nov. 21. The Fighting Hawks were 8-1 in Big Sky play on their home court a year ago.
ON THE HORIZON
UND wraps up the Big Sky’s Treasure State swing in Bozeman against Montana State. The Fighting Hawks are 4-1 against the Bobcats on their home court since joining the Big Sky, including a 90-85 win last year.
DID YOU KNOW?
Dahlberg Arena is the only road venue where UND has not picked up a Big Sky win, but the Fighting Hawks have won in the building as a league member. They defeated Southern Utah in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Big Sky Tournament hosted by the Griz.
The North Dakota men’s basketball program holds a 1566-1044 (.600) all-time record since Dr. George Sweetland led the first team onto the court in 1904-05. North Dakota is 946-284 (.770) all-time when it comes to defending its home court.
JONESING FOR SUCCESS
Iowa grad transfer Dale Jones missed the Idaho contest after starting all 11 non-conference games, but returned to the starting lineup in an emphatic way on Sunday vs. Eastern Washington. Jones scored a career-high 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to register the first double-double of his career. The 6-foot-8 forward has proven his worth early on this season by averaging 10.8 ppg and 7.2 rpg (third in the Big Sky). After three seasons at the junior-college level, Injuries limited him to just 11 games for the Hawkeyes from 2015-17. By missing a majority of those two seasons, he was granted a sixth year of elibility by the NCAA and is spending that in Grand Forks.
STEWART GETTING COMFORTABLE
Sophomore Marlon Stewart scored just 26 points (8.7 ppg) in his first three career games for UND, but is averaging a team-best 15.1 ppg in the 10 games since then. That stretch includes a career-hig 24 points against Utah Valley (Nov. 25) and team-high 23 against NDSU (Dec. 9). That was his third 20-plus point game of the season for Stewart. He had a career-high nine helpers in UND’s outing against Presentation (Nov. 28). Stewart went for 15 points and went 6-for-6 from the foul line vs. the 12th-ranked Zags (Dec. 16) and had 15 of UND’s 18 first-half points against Idaho. He finished with 17.
WHAT A WAY TO REACH 1K
Geno Crandall became the 36th player in UND men’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point plateau and the junior arrived at the figure in one of the most dramatic ways possible. The milestone came on his 3-pointer that sent the UND-Gonzaga game into overtime, tying the game at 69-69 with 1.8 seconds to play. Crandall’s milestone came in his 73rd career game, which made him the quickest among the six Fighting Hawks to reach that plateau during the program’s Division I era. Troy Huff (2010-14) had been the quickest among the first quintet after taking 74 career games. Huff ended his career as the program’s third all-time leading scorer with 2,005 points.
BIG DEBUT FOR BUCHANAN
Freshman Tray Buchanan is UND’s top scoring threat off the bench, averaging 5.0 ppg this season. After scoring just 12 points in his last four games, Buchanan came off the bench to score a career-high 12 points in his Big Sky debut against Idaho (Dec. 31). He buried a trio of 3-pointers and added three free throws all in the second half. Through two league games, the rookie is averaging 9.0 ppg.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: MONTANA
• Head coach Travis DeCuire has the Grizzlies off to a 9-5 start in his fourth season leading his alma mater. DeCuire led Montana to a pair of 20-win seasons in his first two campaigns and the Griz finished last season 16-16 and 11-7 in Big Sky play.
• DeCurie has yet to lose to North Dakota in five tries.
• Oregon transfer Ahmaad Rorie is Montana’s top scorer, averaging 18.4 ppg. He is averaging 21.0 ppg in Big Sky action after netting 20 and 22 points, respectively in wins over Northern Arizona and Southern Utah last weekend.
• Junior Michael Oguine is having his best season for the Griz, averaging 14.1 ppg and 4.7 rpg. The 6-foot-2 guard is also apt at crashing the offensive glass, averaging 2.3 o-boards per game, which is second among Big Sky players.
• Rorie is not the only Division I-transfer impacting this team. Junior Jamar Akoh is providing a nice inside presence for his new team after playing two seasons at Cal State Fullerton. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 12.4 ppg and 6.5 rpg.
• Sophomore Sayeed Pridgett is one of the top scoring reserves in the league, averaging 8.1 ppg.
• DeCurie has used the same starting lineup in all 14 games.
The Griz and Fighting Hawks are two of the tops teams in Big Sky play in terms of defensive pressure. Montana is forcing opponents into 17.6 turnovers per game, which is second among league teams, while UND is third in that category at 16.0 per game. These two clubs also rank second and third collecting steals with UND averaging 8.6 and Montana averaging 7.9.
-- UND --