Date: Saturday, November 16
Time: 4:00pm CDT
TV/Streaming: SEC Network+
2019-20 Record: 1-1
Head Coach: Travis DeCuire (110-59, 6th season)
Travis DeCuire is in year 6 roaming the sidelines for Montana. Decure lettered at Montana in the early 90s and was a part of the 91-92 NCAA Tournament team. He has experienced the same level of success coaching the Grizzles. In 5 completed seasons under DeCuire, the Grizzlies have 3 regular season Big Sky championships, 2 Big Sky Tournament championships, and 2 NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Grizzlies have to replace 5 seniors, 3 of which averaged double figures. That leaves just 40% of scoring returning for DeCuire. Leading the way is Sayeed Pridgett. The 6-5 Senior has done it all 2 games into the season: 23.5ppg, 7.5rpg, 5.0apg and 2.5spg. Pridgett is shooting 64% from the field, but has yet to make a 3 this season.
Montana opened the season on the road against Stanford and only lost by 11. The Grizzlies rebounded with a 14 point win over NAIA Montana State-Northern. Montana has some similarities to Arkansas. Coach DeCuire through 2 games has stuck with a short bench and just 8 players have seen action. Only 2 players 6-8 and taller have seen the court, but both weigh 210 pounds or less.
The Media picked Montana to win the Big Sky again this season, but the coaches have them 2nd. Either would be quite the feat with all the Grizzlies lost. Sayeed Pridgett is a legit player who will give any team at any level fits. Pridgett can carry Montana to a solid season.
2019-20 Record: 2-0
Head Coach: Eric Musselman (1st season)
Defense, defense, defense! That has been the theme of the season for the Hogs. 86 points allowed through 2 games is no small feat no matter who the opponent. Opponents have shot 4 of 42 from the 3 point line and just 33 of 107 from the field overall. 25 steals, 10 blocks, and 45 turnovers forced are the recipe for those measly 86 points allowed.
Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe are both locked in. Jones averaging 24ppg on 58% shooting and Joe with 20ppg on 56% shooting. Adrio Bailey has been consistent and Desi Sills has been driving to the basket with a new intensity. Jalen Harris and Jimmy Whitt have both been steady.
Hogs fans have to be pleased with what they have seen with Musselman’s crew so far
Montana will take the best shot they can get every time. That is the way they are coached. The Grizzlies won’t be in any hurry. In 2 games, they’ve only allowed 61.5ppg so far, but have only scored 63ppg. Neither team should be able to impose their will in the paint so pace matters.
Through 2 games, Montana has been a bit one dimensional with so much of their offense going through Sayeed Pridgett. Even if Arkansas allows Pridgett to do what he does, it will still require the rest of the Grizzlies to produce against that potent Hog defense.
I fully expect Arkansas’ athleticism to win this game.
Score Prediction: Arkansas 73, Montana 54
Like many in our state, I didn’t have a choice in who my favorite team would be growing up. I was raised on Razorback. I remember watching the early season games on ARSN or conference games on JP Sports. My first favorite players were Brandon Dean and Joe Johnson. Great memories. I never thought years ago I would be writing about Arkansas Basketball. I don’t have a journalism background or anything like that. When given the opportunity, I wanted to challenge myself with something new and it has been a blast!