UPDATE: Excel H Sports West is awaiting confirmation on covering the MLB Cactus League games and the Arizona Diamondbacks regular season games

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Montana State begins its three-game homestand to close out its regular season on Tuesday when the Bobcats host Southern Utah in Worthington Arena at 7 p.m.

The Bobcats and Thunderbirds play in a rescheduled game Tuesday. The two sides were previously set to match up in Bozeman on Jan. 15, but the contest was postponed due to COVID protocols within the Southern Utah program.

MSU and Southern Utah faced off for the first time this season less than two weeks ago in Cedar City. The ‘Cats claimed a 76-71 win over the T-Birds on Feb. 19. The two squads exchanged leads through the first 25 minutes of the matchup, but a 10-2 run put MSU ahead for good as the Bobcats shot 50.9% and out-rebounded SUU 37-22.

The Bobcats have an opportunity to clinch a share of their first regular season Big Sky Conference title in 20 years on Tuesday against the Thunderbirds. A Southern Utah win would put the two sides in a tie atop the Big Sky standings with MSU at 13-4 currently, while the T-Birds are 12-5 in league play. Two other Big Sky teams in Northern Colorado and Weber State each have six losses in conference action.

Southern Utah is 18-9 overall this season heading into Tuesday’s matchup. The Thunderbirds have the top scoring offense in the Big Sky as they average 79.7 points per game. They have four double-digit scorers in Tevian Jones (15.2), John Knight III (14.3), Maizen Fausett (12.8) and Dre Marin (10.5), while Fausett also snags 8.5 boards per outing.

Montana State is in the midst of a four-game stretch that spans every other day. The Bobcats fell at Montana, 80-74, to fall to 21-7 overall on Sunday. Both teams shot over 50%, however MSU turned the ball over 10 times in the first half to fall behind 44-33 at halftime. The ‘Cats connected on just one 3-pointer, while Montana made 11, as the Griz outlasted the ‘Cats. It was MSU’s first loss this season when shooting over 50%. The Bobcats dropped to 1-6 when an opponent scores at least 80 points.

MSU has been led by the play of it preseason all-conference team recipients and that was on display in Missoula. Xavier Bishop scored 27 points which was his personal high as a Bobcat. Bishop recorded his 500th career assist Sunday while he now sits at 1,739 career points. Jubrile Belo scored 21 points and had a career-high 16 rebounds at Montana. His 16 boards were the most by a Bobcat since 1996.

The Bobcats’ 21 victories match MSU’s most in a single season during their Big Sky Conference era. They previously have earned 21 victories in the 1995-96, 1994-95 and 1986-87 seasons. Prior to their Big Sky era, which began in 1963, the Bobcats’ previous most wins of 22 came in the 1951-52 season.

MSU’s 13-4 mark in Big Sky play is one of its best all-time. By winning percentage, the Bobcats’ best records were the 12-2 league ledgers they posted in the 2001-02 and 1986-87 seasons. Both of those teams were Big Sky regular season championship squads. MSU’s 13 wins across its Big Sky slate are the most ever for the program.

Danny Sprinkle helped the Bobcats through a strong four-year run as a player and now he’s doing it at a historical level guiding the program. Sprinkle is the first Bobcat coach to reach 50 wins before the end of his third season in over 84 years. His 50-31 mark nearly resembles Brick Breeden’s 50-23 record from 1935-38.

Montana State has already claimed a spot in the Big Sky Quarterfinals having automatically earned a bye in the league tournament. The spot in the quarterfinals marks the fourth consecutive season the Bobcats have appeared among the top eight teams in the Big Sky postseason tournament. It marks the first time the program has achieved the feat since a span of the 1996-99 seasons.

Montana State’s game versus Southern Utah will air on SWX Montana and will be streamed on ESPN+. The game will also be broadcast on the Bobcat Radio Network on KMMS 1450 AM as well as on the Varsity Network app. Links for live streams, live stats and radio coverage are available on the men’s basketball schedule page on msubobcats.com.