MBB Game 6 Preview: Montana State vs. Oregon

Game Time: 7:30pm PST, OSN/Comcast Sports Net (which means technical problems and cutting to a Blazers Retrospective)

We've lost two in a row, one of those losses against a team we definitely should have beat. After what the Portland Pilots did to UCLA this week, I feel a bit better about our performance at the Chles Center. As for Montana, I still feel sick about it. This is another week however and it's time to move on. The basketball season is a marathon, not a sprint and even though we lost a game we should have won, it won't matter too much in the grand scheme of things. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and look forward to actually seeing a game on television

A Look at the Bobcats

Playing in the Big Sky conference, Montana State is 2-2 after a 70-66 win over San Francisco in the bay area on Wednesday. There isn't a lot of depth on the team with most of their starters playing extended minutes. Forward Bobby Howard will be coming off one of the best games of his career, shooting 9-11 from the field for 21 points including 3-3 from beyond the arc. Eric Rush, a 6-5 guard, provides a considerable mismatch for any team and represents the other major scoring threat for the Bobcats.

This is a team that shoots very well all over the court, averaging 48% from the field and over 40% from beyond the arc. Oregon needs to play fast and limit halfcourt opportunities for Montana State. If the Ducks can play sound, straight up defense, it should help to limit their field goal conversion percentage. The Bobcats don't shoot well from the free throw line which will give Oregon an advantage.

Keys to the Game

1. Run, Run, Run! Oregon needs to use their superior depth to run Montana State out of the gym. With the starters for Montana State playing so many minutes, you can be sure that they will want to slow the game down a bit to keep themselves fresh.

2. Play strong, in your face defense. The Ducks have to be disciplined on defense to make sure opportunities at jump shots are limited looks. If Montana State gets in a rhythm, it will be hard to stay in the game.

3. Control the boards. Defensive rebounding will be an important aspect of this game. Limiting Montana State to one shot per possession is huge for getting out on the run and controlling the tempo of the game.

Final Thoughts

Catron and Dunigan are again questionable for this game. Oregon has superior talent but how they will deal without the low post presence they provide will be very interesting. On paper, Oregon should win this game but it could be very close depending on how much defensive intensity the Ducks play with. If TP and company can get their shot going, look for a run and gun tempo with the Ducks running away with it.
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