MISSOULA, Mont. - UND will take the momentum from a big road win at Montana State into an arena where few Big Sky teams have had success in recent seasons. League-leading Montana now awaits the Green and White as the two will clash at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula Saturday at 8:05 p.m. CT.
UND VS. MONTANA SERIES
All-time: Montana leads 8-5
In Grand Forks: Montana leads 6-1
Division I: Montana leads 3-1
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Montana: 1-3
Montana Head Coach Wayne Tinkle vs. UND: 3-1
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Radio: 100.3 FM (Grand Forks) and 970 AM (Fargo) or iHeart Radio App
Live Audio Stream: www.UNDSports.com (free)
Live Video: www.BigSkyTV.org (free)
Live Stats: www.GoGriz.com (free)
Live Chat: www.UNDSports.com (free)
IN THE PAINT...
• The Grizzlies are unbeaten in league play this season at 13-0 and tied the Big Sky record for most consecutive regular season wins on Thursday with their 24th straight. Northern Colorado was the latest victim, falling by 10 (73-63).
• The 82-73 victory over the Bobcats gave UND a season sweep of Montana State and now the teams are tied for fourth in the Big Sky standings at 7-6.
• By improving to 7-6, UND moved over the .500 mark in league play for the first time this season. UND started the season 1-4 in Big Sky play, but has won six of its last eight.
• The win over Montana State was the second straight road game that UND overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to post a victory (Northern Arizona; down by 11 at halftime). It was the third Big Sky road win for the club - only Montana (6-0) and Weber State (6-2) have more.
• Montana’s only loss at home this season was a 68-67 double-overtime loss to South Dakota State on Dec. 15. The Jacks also beat UND by a point this season on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer (71-70) on their home court in Brookings.
• UND’s last visit to Missoula was for the 2009-10 season opener as the Green and White played in the Grizzly Tournament. The Griz held UND to a season-low 37 points in that contest en route to posting a 24-point vicotry (61-37).
• The Griz also defeated UND the season before in Missoula, posting an 83-63 victory in what was the first meeting between the two teams since the 1964-65.
• That Division II clash nearly 50 years ago was also the last time North Dakota played Montana State and Montana in back-to-back games in the Treasure State. Bill Fitch was UND’s head coach and sophomore Phil Jackson was just starting to make a name for himself in the basketball world.
• This will be the fifth meeting between the teams at the Division I level with Montana owning a 3-1 edge in those contests. The Griz lead the overall series at 8-5.
• UND’s lone Division I win in the series came last season in Grand Forks as the Green and White knocked off the Griz in overtime, 88-81. Junior Aaron Anderson had 20 points to pace five UND players in double figures.
• The Griz returned to The Betty earlier this season and posted a 77-62 victory in the first Big Sky matchup between the clubs. Montana led by only two at intermission, but opened the second half on a decisive 11-0 run to put the game out of reach.
• Huff led all scorers with 25 points in the win at Montana State and his output moved him into 22nd on UND’s all-time scoring charts with 1,132 points. He needs only four points to move into the top 20.
• For Huff, the 20-plus point scoring game was his seventh in Big Sky play.
• UND improved to 5-0 when scoring 80-plus points in a contest.
• Huff equaled his season-high with four steals to move into a tie for fourth on UND’s all-time steals chart with 122. Huff had a steal late in the first half that he converted into a layup at the buzzer to make it a 34-31 deficit for his squad.
• A main cog in UND’s two-game road winning streak has been redshirt freshman Shane Benton. He had seven points in the win at Northern Arizona, then responded with career-highs in points (13), rebounds (5) and steals (3) in Thursday’s win at Montana State.
• Those 20 points account for more than half of his season total of 39 points.
• Huff and Benton helped UND register a season-high 15 steals against Division I opponent this season (16 vs. Presentation on Dec 3.
• Anderson scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half, including the final seven of the contest to seal the victory.
• Junior Jamal Webb scored 12 points to round out a quartet of double-digure scorers for UND. He had six second-half points on a pair of old-fashion 3-point plays. The first came on his first career dunk as his one-handed throw down made it a 65-59 lead for the visitors.
• Webb also added six assists, which moved him into sixth on UND’s career charts with 322.
• With those 12 points, Webb surpassed the 800-point plateau for his career. In his last two games, Webb has 13 assists to only a pair of turnovers. He is averaging averaging 17.5 ppg and 6.5 apg against the Bobcats this season.
• Webb had two of five and-one conversions for UND in the final eight minutes of the contest.
• Junior Brandon Brekke was saddled throughout the game in foul trouble, but added two of those 3-point plays down the stretch and finished with nine points in the closing eight minutes to help cement the comeback.
• Senior Jordan Allard picked up his fifth start of the season for the injured Josh Schuler, who sat out the MSU game with back spasms.
• The Nodaks, as the team was commonly referred to back during the Phil Jackson era, would go on to win both of those contests in the Treasure State during the 1964-65 season. UND defeated Montana 71-62 on Dec. 11 before traveling east a couple of hours to Bozeman where they beat the Bobcats 71-69 on the next day.
• With the win over Idaho State on Feb. 2, head coach Brian Jones surpassed former NBA coaching legend Bill Fitch for fourth place on the all-time career wins list at UND with 95. Fitch went 94-45 from 1963-67. Jones now has 96 career wins.
• Webb had three more steals against Montana State, marking the 13th time this season he had three or more in a contest. He is currently tied for 18th nationally in that department and first in the Big Sky at 2.6 steals per game (51 total). He needs 18 more to reach the top spot on UND’s all-time list (currently second with 160 for his career) where Scott Guldseth (1990-93) currently resides with 178.
• Huff and Anderson are not far behind Webb in the steals department for league games. Huff is second at 2.5 spg, while Anderson is tied for seventh at 1.5 spg.
• Webb and his backcourt mates were not the only ones reaking havoc on the defensive end against the Bengals - senior Mitch Wilmer swatted away a career-high four shots in the contest.
• Brekke returned to the lineup vs. Weber State on Thursday and played 17 minutes off the bench. It was his first action since playing five minutes in the win over Bowling Green on Dec. 29. He missed 11 games total after suffering a concussion in the loss to North Dakota State (Dec. 9).
MORE IN THE PAINT
• UND improved to 7-4 at home with its home win over Idaho State on Feb. 2. UND went 13-1 at home during the 2011-12 season.
• UND suffered another injury to key contributor as senior captain Doug Archer went down in practice prior to the Weber State contest. He missed both the Weber State and Idaho State games and there is no timetable for his return.
• Wilmer and junior Alonzo Traylor both posted their first career double-doubles in the team’s Big Sky debut at Southern Utah (Dec. 17), but the T-birds were able to hold off the visitors with a 10-for-12 stretch at the foul line down the stretch.
• Wilmer scored 15 points and added a career-best 11 rebounds, while Traylor came off the bench to score 13 points and equaled Wilmer’s rebounding total.
• Unfortunately for Traylor, the double-double was the last action of the season for the JUCO-transfer, who was ruled academically ineligible for the second semester.
• The Big Sky is the third conference that UND has been affiliated with since the program began in 1904. At the Division II level, UND was a member of the North Central Conference from 1922 to 2008. After spending one season as an independent during its first season of Division I play in 2008-09, UND spent the next three seasons in the Great West Conference.
• With the addition of the Thunderbirds and UND, the Big Sky basketball playing members grew to 11 this season. Southern Utah played last season in the Summit League, while UND wrapped up a three-year run in the Great West Conference.
• The top seven teams from the regular season will all advance to the Big Sky Conference Tournament where, if they do advance, UND would have a crack at earning its first NCAA Tournament berth. UND won the GWC Tournament in 2011 and 2012 anda advanced to the CIT Postseason Tournament both seasons.
• The Big Sky Tournament will be held at the home venue of the No. 1 seed and regular-season champion.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: MONTANA
• Head coach Wayne Tinkle has his Griz off to a 13-0 start in Big Sky play and with a 73-63 victory over Northern Colorado on Thursday, Montana tied the Big Sky record with its 24th straight Big Sky regular season win (Weber State; 1968-70).
• The Griz have also won 23 straight Big Sky home games now, which tied Idaho (1980-83) for the Big Sky record.
• Junior Kareem Jamar had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the victory over NC for the Griz, whose 13-game winning streak is the second longest active in Division I right now behind Akron’s 14 straight.
• Montana’s program record for consecutive wins is 14 set during a 25-7 campaign last season.
• Senior Mathias Ward is the team’s top scorer at 15.1 ppg in overall games (fourth in Big Sky) and a 15.2 ppg clip in league play (sixth). He poured in a season-high 27 points in the win over UND on Jan. 10.
• In his two previous games against UND, Ward scored a total of four points.
• Classmate Will Cherry - the reigning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year - is second in league games, averaging 5.2 assists per game. He is currently third in steals (2.1/g) behind UND’s Jamal Webb (2.6/g) and Troy Huff (2.5/g).
• Cherry had 28 points in the overtime loss at UND last season and scored 14 points in the road win this season at The Betty. In three games against UND, he is averaging 14.0 ppg.
• Montana leads the Big Sky in free throw shooting (76.3 percent).
• Montana has a two-game cushion on Weber State in the league standings and became the first Big Sky team to clinch a berth in the postseason tournament with Thursday’s win over the Bears.
• The Griz will take to the road for their ESPN BracketBusters game as Montana will face Davidson on ESPNU on Saturday, Feb. 23.
LAST TIME OUT
North Dakota 82, Montana State 73 (Feb. 7) • Bozeman, Mont.
BOZEMAN, Mont. - For the second straight Big Sky road game, North Dakota overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to post a win this time knocking off Montana State 82-73 at Worthington Arena on Thursday night.
Junior Troy Huff scored a game-high 25 points and freshman Shane Benton added a career-high 13 points to spark UND (10-12, 7-6 BSC) to a season sweep of the Bobcats (10-11, 7-6 BSC). Those two also combined for seven steals as UND had a season-high 15 of those in league play to ignite the comeback.
Montana State raced out of the gates in the second half and extended what was a 34-31 lead at halftime to as many as 14 points just over six minutes into the stanza.
However, just like they did on Jan. 26 at Northern Arizona, UND found a way to erase a large deficit and left a visiting venue with a victory, improving to 3-3 on the road in league action.
It was the first visit to Bozeman for UND since the 1964-65 season and it was the first Big Sky loss for Montana State on its home court this season.
After facing its largest deficit of the game at 55-41, UND went on a 19-4 to seize control of the contest.
UND DRAWS OMAHA FOR BRACKETBUSTERS GAME
The North Dakota men’s basketball team added one more former North Central Conference foe to its 2012-13 schedule on Monday as ESPN officials announced that Omaha will play host to the Green and White during their annual Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters weekend. The game will take place Saturday, Feb. 23 at Omaha’s Ralston Arena. Tipoff time is set for 1 p.m.
This will be the final season of an 11-year run for the event that pits 122 NCAA Tournament hopefuls from 15 different mid-major conferences against each other. Omaha is in its second season of transition to the NCAA Division I level and first in the Summit League.
The Mavericks are currently 8-17 overall and 5-7 in the Summit League, which puts them fifth in the standings of the nine-team conference. UND is currently 9-12 overall and 6-6 in its first season in the Big Sky. The .500 league mark puts UND in fifth alone in the 11-team conference.
In four career games against Idaho State, junior Aaron Anderson is now averaging 18.0 ppg, which is nearly eight points higher than his career average of 10.1 ppg. In the two games at Holt Arena, Anderson is averaging 19.5 ppg, including a career-high 20-point outing last season. Anderson had 16 points in Saturday’s win over the Bengals that gave UND a season sweep of ISU.
HUFF'S RISING IN 1,000-POINT CLUB, ANDERSON CLOSING IN
A 3-pointer from the top of the key vs. Eastern Washington on Jan. 17 moved junior Troy Huff into an elite club in the history of North Dakota basketball. Huff’s trey at the 13-minute of the second half brought his career total to 1,002 points as he became the 32nd UND player and just ninth junior to reach that milestone. Patrick Mitchell - a captain on last year’s squad - was the last UND player to add his name to this list. Mitchell finished his career with 1,136 points and stands in 20th. Huff is quickly working his towards Mitchell, having moved up 10 spots to 22nd in the last six games by scoring 130 points (21.7 ppg).
At some point over the next season and a half, Huff will likely have a couple of his classmates join him. Aaron Anderson is the next in line to reach the milestone (919 career points) and if his season average holds up (currently 13.9 ppg), he could do so by the end of the 2012-13 season. UND has never had two players reach the 1,000-point plateau in the same season.
ANDERSON, HUFF - AMONG BIG SKY’S TOP DUO
When it comes to Big Sky play, UND is home to one of the top scoring duos in the conference. Junior Troy Huff (19.5 ppg) leads the Big Sky in league scoring and classmate Aaron Anderson (16.0 ppg) is fifth. Only Southern Utah, with Damon Heuir (18.8 ppg) and Jackson Stevenett (18.5 ppg) have two players in the top five along with UND. Huff has reached double figures in 12 of 13 Big Sky games, including a season-high 26 points in the win over Northern Arizona. Anderson has reached 20-plus points three times in league action. He scored a career-high 25 points vs. Portland State. Both Huff (18.8 ppg) and Anderson (14.0 ppg) are averaging career-highs in overall games as well.
WEBB WORKING HIS WAY TO THE TOP
Junior Jamal Webb has moved into second place on UND’s career charts for steals with 51 already this season. He tops the Big Sky charts, averaging 2.6 spg. Webb is closing fast on UND’s career leader Scott Guldseth, who had 178 from 1989-93. He has 34 in 13 Big Sky games to give him 160 for his career. Webb also joined a new career top 10 recently and has moved into Top 10 on the all-time assist chart. He is currently sixth with 322.
HUFF NETS FIRST two BIG SKY POW AWARDS
Junior Troy Huff was named the Big Sky Player of the Week on New Year’s Eve after his 14-point, 12-rebound outing in the 56-53 victory over Bowling Green. He was the first UND player to receive the honor from the team’s new conference. The double-double was the sixth of his career as he played in just his second game back from a broken jaw. He picked up his second honor three weeks later after leading UND to pair of back-to-back home wins over Eastern Washington and Portland State.
WILMER CONTINUES TO PLAY WELL
Senior Mitch Wilmer has started the last 19 games for UND and is subsequently playing the best basketball of his UND career. Wilmer, who had only three starts coming into the season, is averaging 5.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1.3 bgp for the season. He has scored 127 points this season, which are 44 more than he had in 55 career games entering the campaign. Wilmer has set or equaled his career-high in scoring four times in those 16 starts, chipping in with 11 points at South Dakota State (Nov. 28), upping that to 12 at North Dakota State (Dec. 9) before scoring 15 against Southern Utah and Northern Colorado. He added his first career double-double against the Thunderbirds in UND’s Big Sky debut by adding 11 rebounds to his point total. He is coming off a 10-point outing in the win over Northern Arizona, which put him back in double figures for the first time in five games.
Seven teams on UND’s 2011-12 docket advanced to postseason tournaments, including four to the NCAA Tournament (Kansas, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota State). UND beat two of those teams at home (Montana and South Dakota State). North Dakota State and Western Illinois both made the CBI Invitational, while GWC foe Utah Valley earned an at-large bid to join UND in the CIT Tournament.The schedule does not get any easier in 2012-13, as UND’s slate has seven more teams on it that advanced to postseason tournaments. Kansas State advanced to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Northern Iowa made the second round of the NIT. Both Montana and South Dakota State lost their first games in the NCAA Tournament. Bowling Green and Weber State joined UND in the CIT Postseason Tournament, while NDSU lost in the first round of the CBI Invitational.
UND’s quintet of Aaron Anderson, Brandon Brekke, Troy Huff, Josh Schuler and Jamal Webb produced 65.4 percent of UND’s points in 2010-11, which was tops among any freshman class in the country. As sophomores, that unit upped that number to 70.9 percent of the team’s scoring (1,526 of 2,153). However, as sophomores, that unit had company at the top of the national charts. The Memphis sophomores, a unit UND edged out last season (63.9 percent as freshmen), produced 73.6 percent (1,923 of 2,614) and NDSU’s sophomores concluded the Bison season scoring 71.3 percent (1,564 of 2,194) of their team’s points. So far, the 2012-13 juniors, which includes the addition of JUCO-transfer Alonzo Traylor, have accounted for 72.7 (1,073 of 1,475) percent of the team’s scoring through 20 games.
WHAT’S BACK THIS SEASON
Head coach Brian Jones has four starters back and six of his top seven scorers from his 2012 GWC Tournament championship team. The seventh-year head coach will have to replace second team All-GWC performer Patrick Mitchell, who averaged 10.4 ppg and 4.4 rpg during his final season with the program. The 2011-12 squad posted a 17-15 record and earned an automatic berth to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament for the second consecutive season. UND lost at Drake, 70-64, in the opening round of postseason play.
ROSTER ROUND UP
Head coach Brian Jones has a 16-man roster, but only 11 of those players are now active for the 2012-13 season. The team was hoping for good news from the NCAA on granting Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash a waiver to play immediately and not have to sit out this season, but the organization denied UND’s request. Houston Baptist transfer Dustin Hobaugh transferred to UND after one season with the Huskies to pursue a degree in commercial aviation. Hobaugh is sitting out the 2012-13 season and will have three left to play starting with the 2013-14 campaign. Besides Nash and Hobaugh, Jones is using redshirt seasons on junior college transer Ryan Salmonson and freshman walk-on Thomas Blake. Salmonson played two seasons at Cosumnes River Community College, while Blake prepped at St. Maria Goretti in Hagerstown, Md. JUCO-transfer Alonzo Traylor played in eight of the team’s first nine, averaging 7.0 ppg and 5.1 rpg, but has been ruled academically ineligible for the second semester.