Vikings have Montana, Montana State at home

Portland State men’s basketball is currently tied with three other teams in Big Sky play. Two other teams in front of the Vikings are Montana and Montana State, but only by one game. Fortunately, the Vikings could cover considerable ground this weekend by holding their home court at the Peter Stott Center.

Portland State will take on Montana on Thursday to kick off the two home games this weekend. Montana leads the series with Portland State at 10-3 and beat the Vikings on Jan. 7 in Missoula, 61-49. David Bell is Montana’s leading threat on offense, averaging 17 points per contest. Freshman guard Kevin Criswell is pitching in with 14.7. The Grizzlies are struggling as of late, dropping four of their last six games, posting a 2-5 record in Big Sky play. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. on Thursday.

On Saturday, the Vikings will host Montana State for the second home game. Montana State has won the last five meetings between the two teams. The last win for the Vikings dates back to the 1999-2000 season, on an 84-67 win at the Rose Garden. Jan. 9, the Vikings lost a close battle, 52-48 in Bozeman. The Bobcats began the season strong, but have struggled as of late similar to Montana, dropping seven of their last 10 games. Pete Conway and Jason Erickson lead the team in scoring at 14.2 and 11.1, respectively. Tip-off for this one is set for 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

As for Portland State, the team has hung in for many of the challenging games this season. The record does not reflect each game that has come down to the last minute or seconds. As new coach Heath Schroyer is trying to instill a new mentality, along with his strategies on offense and defense, the program is enduring a difficult transition stage. Throughout all this, senior leader Jeb Ivey has kept with his game and work ethic. He is second in the league in scoring at 18.7 points per game during the seven Big Sky games thus far. Seth Scott has turned up his output, averaging 14.7 points during Big Sky play, as well as recording five double-doubles on the season. Kevin Briggs is also in double figures, putting up 13.9 per contest for a solid core of three Vikings averaging in double figures every conference game.

On Thursday and Saturday, these three, along with the rest of the team, will look to improve the record and make one final push for postseason play.