Coming into the season, Montana was one of the mid-major programs that everyone loved.
With quite a bit of talent, including the underrated back court duo of Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar, back for another season, the Grizzlies were expected to improve on a season where they beat out Damian Lillard’s Weber State team for both the Big Sky regular season and tournament titles.
Cherry has yet to ‘return’, so to speak. The talented lead guard broke his foot back in September and has yet to make it back to full health.
He appears to be close, according to Shaun Rainey:
I’ll let Jonathon Reed of Big Sky Basketball explain what his return would mean:
Keron DeShields and Jordan Gregory are solid players now and will be good starters eventually, but they are not good or experienced enough right now to lighten the burden on Kareem Jamar. … Cherry is a lockdown defender, but he is also a creator on offense and a guy that defenses have to pay a lot of attention to because of his ability to get to the rim or hit the midrange jumper. They miss him offensively.
While losing Cherry for the non-conference portion of the schedule likely cost Montana a shot at an at-large bid, getting him back in the fold before league play means that he should be healthy once Montana’s truly important games start.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.
No. 23 USC missed a golden opportunity to make up a game in the Pac-12 standings on Friday night.
No. 11 Oregon lost to Colorado on Thursday night, dropping back into a tie for first place in the league with the Trojans, a game ahead of No. 17 Arizona. But USC fell at Arizona State, 74-67, keeping them a game off of the pace that the Ducks have set.
The loss is even more painful when you consider that, on Sunday, the Trojans will be making the trip to Tucson to take on Arizona. The Wildcats are not what we have become accustomed to seeing under Sean Miller, but they are still a top 25 team and the McKale Center is still one of the toughest places in the country to get a win.
Thanks to Friday’s loss, instead of entering McKale with an outside chance of taking over sole possession of first place in the league, USC will have top hope they don’t fall two games off the pace.
As far as the game itself was concerned, USC committed 17 turnovers, shot 2-for-11 from three and gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Arizona State. That’s how you lose a game where you shoot better than 51 percent from the floor. USC was just never able to consistently get out into transition, and that caused them to struggle executing in the half court.
Nikola Jovanovic led the way with 25 points and 15 boards for USC.
Tra Holder’s 20 points made the difference for Arizona State, who kept themselves within striking distance of an at-large bid with the win.
KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) Darrell Davis made a go-ahead 3-pointer from the corner with 21.1 seconds left and No. 19 Dayton beat Rhode Island 68-66 on Friday night.
Rhode Island’s Four McGlynn missed a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left. Dayton got the rebound, and Steve McElvene made one of two free throws for the Flyers with 0.3 seconds to go.
Dyshawn Pierre led Dayton (21-3, 11-1 Atlantic 10) with 17 points and also had nine rebounds. Scoochie Smith added 16 points, and Davis finished with eight.
The Flyers won their ninth straight game and ended a six-game losing streak in Kingston.
McGlynn had 19 points for Rhode Island (14-11, 6-6). Hassan Martin added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
There were 17 lead changes, three in the final 55 seconds.
Pierre made two free throws with 55 seconds left to give the Flyers a one-point lead. Martin countered for the Rams with a three-point play 40 seconds left.
Dayton: Dayton’s 21-3 start is its best since also opening 21-3 in 2008-09. … The Flyers shot 52.0 percent, going 26 of 50.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island’s six Atlantic 10 losses have been by a combined 30 points. … Martin made his 15th career double-double.
Dayton: at Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday night.
Rhode Island: at VCU on Tuesday night.