Three-game road stretch begins for Bobcats at EWU on Thursday
BOZEMAN, Mont. – The Montana State men’s basketball team, after two narrow wins at home, is back on the road for its next three matchups. The Bobcats open the stretch away from Bozeman on Thursday in eastern Washington. MSU follows that up with a contest in Southern Utah on Saturday, then a trip to Missoula to face Montana on Feb. 27.
MSU is playing EWU for the second time this season, previously earning a 69-65 win over the Eagles at Bozeman on Jan. 27. EWU held a 43-41 lead with 11:15 to go in Game 1, but Xavier Bishop hit a 3-pointer on MSU’s next possession and the Bobcats never trailed again. MSU held EWU to a season-low shooting percentage against Big Sky foes of 32.7%. Four Bobcats scored in double figures in the contest.
Montana State’s victory ended a six-game losing streak against Eastern Washington. The Eags have won 15 of the last 18 meetings against the Bobcats. MSU has lost nine straight games to Cheney with its last victory (60-56) on February 24, 2011.
A Bishop layup with six seconds left propelled the Bobcats to a 72-70 victory over Northern Arizona in their last outing on Jan. 12. The win extended MSU’s winning streak to 11 games. That streak is the second-longest in MSU’s Division I era, after only the team’s 1994-95 12-game streak. Big Sky’s 11-game winning streak is the longest in program history. It’s also the fourth-longest active winning streak in the nation, behind Gonzaga, Murray State and South Dakota State (14).
MSU is currently 20-5 overall this season. This 25-game record for the program is the best since the 1986-87 season when this group started the year with the same mark. Montana State’s most wins since joining the Big Sky (1963) is 21.
The Bobcats’ 12-2 start in the Big Sky game is one of their best this century. MSU opened the 2001-02 ledger with the same record and closed out league play by winning the conference regular season title. This team went 20-10 overall. Montana State has never had more than 12 wins in Big Sky Conference play.
MSU visits Eastern Washington on a six-game winning streak in real road competition. The six-game streak is the longest away winning streak in the program’s Big Sky era. Montana State is assured of a positive away winning percentage this year with its current mark of 8-4. His only other away winning records since 1963 include the 2002 (6-1), 1995 (7-4) and 1988 (8-6) seasons.
Montana State has made its way into the conversation between some of the best middle and major teams in the country. The Bobcats, originally ranked No. 21 in the Feb. 7 CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll, now sit at No. 17. The highest-rated team in Big Sky currently, the ranking is first for the program Bobcat in recent memory.
Danny sprinkle helped the Bobcats through a solid four-year run as a player and now he’s doing it on a historic level guiding the program. Sprinkle is the first Bobcat trainer to reach 49 wins before the end of his third season in over 84 years. His 49-30 mark is second only to Brick Breeden, who from 1935 to 1938 led the Bobcats to a 50-23 mark.
MSU is currently ranked 132nd in the NCAA net rankings. The ranking is the highest for MSU since 2002 and is among the best for the Bobcats of all time, behind their RPI at the end of the 1987 (63rd), 1996 (72nd) and 2002 (97th) seasons.
Montana State’s games against Eastern Washington will be televised on SWX Montana and broadcast on ESPN+. The game will also air on the Bobcat Radio Network on KMMS 1450 AM as well as on the Varsity Network app. Links for live streams, live stats and radio coverage can be found on the men’s basketball schedule page on msubobcats.com.