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January 13, 2012

Men’s Basketball Looks to End Losing Streak against Montana State

NAU Game Notes vs. Montana State (PDF)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team hopes to end its four-game losing streak in Big Sky play, hosting Montana State on Saturday at 6:35 p.m. at the Rolle Activity Center.

"Montana State is not too far behind Montana," said Interim Head Coach Dave Brown. "They are very athletic and very big. They gave Weber all they wanted."

The Bobcats are 7-8 overall and enter with a 2-2 conference mark. MSU lost at Weber State on Thursday night 63-49 but the game was tied at 22 at halftime. Xavier Blount and Christian Moon are tied for the team lead in scoring at 11.1 points per game.

While the Bobcats dropped the game at league-leading Weber State, MSU coach Brad Huse likes how his team has competed away from Worthington Arena this season. "We've played well on the road at times this year," Huse said. "We've competed hard. This is a difficult league for road teams, and our guys have fought hard."

MSU managed to stay close against Weber State by controlling the boards, out-rebounding the Wildcats 43-to-40, and limiting the home team to 33 percent, shooting from the floor. But an old bugaboo haunted the Bobcats, as MSU shot just 34%.

MSU will need to overcome a season-long trend in order to compete at the Rolle Activity Center on Saturday. The Bobcats shoot just 39.3% in road games this season.

The Lumberjacks have dropped the last four conference games by an average of 19.5 points. It is the first four-game conference losing streak since the 2004-05 season and the 25-point loss to Montana was the largest in the series at home since 1995-96. NAU has not lost five in a row since 2001-02 and has not lost five in a row in league play since 1995-96.

"I don't have an answer (for our lack of success)," said senior Durrell Norman. "It has been accumulating and we seem to be going downhill and regressing. There is a lot of frustration in the locker room and we have to find a way to turn it around. We have to find something to change the season and get back to where we were earlier."

NAU got improved play from the post Thursday against the Griz. Junior Ephraim Ekanem scored eight points and had six rebounds, while sophomore Max Jacobsen had six points and four rebounds. Norman added seven points and seven rebounds.

The Lumberjacks have had recent success against Montana State, especially at home.

"We have to change everything," said Norman. "We can't come out here and get embarrassed. It is not acceptable to let down ourselves, the coaching staff and everyone that comes to support us."

NAU leads the all-time series with the Bobcats 46-41 and owns a 30-12 advantage in Flagstaff. Overall, NAU has won two straight in the series, including a Big Sky Tournament semifinal game last season 65-62. The Lumberjacks have won 10 straight over Montana State in Flagstaff and have not lost to MSU at home since the 2001-02 season.

There is a special promotion for Boy Scout Night Saturday. Scouts receive free admission, a free scout badge and will be on the court for the national anthem. There will also be a postgame autograph session with select members of the team.

The game can be heard on 105.1 The Big Talker and seen live on Fox College Sports, Big Sky TV and NAU TV (online and Flagstaff cable). Fans can also listen to the game online via The Big Talker website or on the Big Talker mobile app. Fox Sports Arizona (Direct TV 686, Dish Network 415, Cable Channel 58-Flagstaff and Cable Channel 34-Phoenix) will show the game on a tape-delayed basis at 10:30 Saturday night.