Montana State Basketball Game Preview

The San Jose State men's basketball team travel to Big Sky country to take on the Montana State Bobcat's in Bozeman on Saturday. Inside Sparta previews the contest.

Call it the Battle in Bozeman on Saturday.

Granted, such a reference doesn't have the cachet of say, The Thrilla in Manilla, but it's conference prestige on the line. Plus, the Bobcats want to defend their homecourt from an out-of-league trespasser.

Montana State is currently 13-12 overall, 7-6 in conference play and, maybe most importantly, 8-3 in home games.

Here's MSU Coach Brad Huse on the match.

Common Opponents This Season

11/14/09 at Nevada 61-75 L

11/25/09 at San Francisco W 70-66

12/4/09 Northern Colorado W 87-63

2/23/09 at Boise State 56-58 L

The Bobcat Starting Lineup

Four starters return from last season

6-foot-9 Branden Johnson: Owning 10.2 ppg. and 5.5 rpg. stats respectively, the anomaly is that he is the top three-point shot taker on the team (36%) as 124 of his 196 shot attempts have come from beyond the stripe -- he was the top student-athlete on the squad last season

6-foot-7 Bobby Howard: The leading scorer at 14.1 ppg. and second on the team in rebounding with 5.4 a contest, he shoots 52% from the floor, 33% from long range but just 56% at the foul line

6-foot-5 Erik Rush: A graduate of Milpitas High, Rush is at 11.3 and 4.3 respectively, 44% overall in shooting, 35% from three-point land

6-foot-3 Will Bynum: He is the co-leader in assists, tops in steals and averaging 8.4 ppg. but his shooting is the weakest among the starters -- 38% on the season and 22% on one three-point attempt per game -- he was the team co-defensive MVP last season

6-foot-1 Marquis Navarre: He is tied for first in assists but also has sharp shooting numbers -- 11.3 ppg. on 49% shooting and a very good 44% on his trey attempts

Every starter averages 30+ minutes per game of playing time

The Cavalry

6-foot-6 Danny Piepoli: 47% shooting , 42% on his threes (82 of his 119 shots have been trey attempts) and 83% at the foul line

6-foot-4 Austin Brown: His shooting numbers aren't strong at 37%, 29% and 48% respectively but he is tied for the team lead in blocked shots with 19

6-10 Cody Anderson: With the body of a bruiser, he remarkably has attempted a three-pointer a game

5-11 Bryan Louff: The backup at the point, he is shooting 28% on the season but 5-10 from three-point range

The Montana State Roster, by position

Will Bynum G 6-3 180 Sr.
Colt Idol G 6-3 200 Fr.
Marquis Navarre G 5-11 165 Sr.
Bryan Louff G 5-11 175 So.
Erik Rush G 6-5 210 Jr

Austin Brown F 6-4 205 So.
Jeff Budinich F 6-9 225 Fr.
Steven Davis F 6-7 225 Fr.
Cameron Henderson F 6-7 235 Sr.
Bobby Howard F 6-7 225 Jr.
Branden Johnson F 6-9 230
Danny Piepoli F 6-6 200 Jr.

Cody Anderson C 6-10 270 So.
Michel Swita C 7-0 Jr.

What To Expect

- Montana State averages 20 three-point attempts per game to 15 for SJSU -- what will these totals be on Saturday night?

- The Bobcats have committed 52 less turnovers than its collective opponents, as have the Spartans

- Averaging 68.3 points per game, Montana trails by six points or so behind San Jose State's average

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Kevin McCarthy is the Basketball Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Kevin with any questions, comments, or tips at kevin@insidesparta.com

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