College basketball • Wildcats 2 games behind Grizzlies in Big Sky race.
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Ogden • To remain a viable player in the Big Sky Conference race, Weber State must win Thursday's game against visiting Montana a task that, so far, has proven impossible for the rest of the league.
Earlier this season, the Wildcats (17-5, 12-2) lost by two points at Montana (18-4, 14-0). WSU needs a victory and then some help.
The intensity promises to rise to a white heat when the two big dogs of the Big Sky tip off in the Dee Events Center.
"It's going to be a dog fight," WSU senior forward Frank Otis said. "They don't like us, and we don't like them. Plain and simple."
Montana recently broke Weber State's decades-old conference winning streak of 24 games. Counting league tournament contests, the Grizzlies have won 27 consecutive Big Sky games.
The last time UM lost a conference game was Jan. 14, 2012 in Ogden. Since the Big Sky started its postseason tournament in 1976, the Grizzlies and 'Cats have won eight titles, the most of any BSC team. Montana destroyed Weber State in Missoula last year in the tournament championship.
In all, Montana owns a three-game winning streak against WSU.
"These last two teams have been the best they've had in school history," WSU coach Randy Rahe said. "We know it will be a big challenge. We'll have to play well in a lot of areas."
Montana features perhaps the league's best all-around guard in Will Cherry.
The senior missed much of the preseason with a foot injury, but has since averaged more than 14 points in league play with 4.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds a game.
Cherry dropped 28 on Weber State in the Jan. 26 meeting in Missoula. Davion Berry's desperation heave at the buzzer came up short.
Thursday is the start of a four-game road stretch for Montana. Conversely, WSU has just two away games remaining.
"If we find a way [to win] we'll put some heat on them," Rahe said. "They haven't felt much heat this year."
Montana atWeber State
O At the Dee Events Center (Ogden)
Tipoff • Thursday, 7 p.m.
Radio • 1280 AM, 960 AM
Records • UM 18-4, 14-0 BSC; WSU 17-5, 12-2
Series record • WSU, 64-50
Last meeting • UM, 76-74 (Jan. 26)
About the Grizzlies • UM has won 14 consecutive games, the nation's second-longest winning streak. … Senior Mathias Ward ranks fourth in the Big Sky with a 14.8 scoring average. … Senior guard Will Cherry averages 13.3 points and is third in the league in steals and assists.
About the Wildcats • WSU has won four consecutive games, and seven straight in the Dee Events Center. … WSU leads the BSC in scoring margin (15.4) and scoring defense (60.8). … Junior Davion Berry is fifth in the BSC with a 14.6 scoring average.