MISSOULA – Just one more non-conference game remains on the schedule for the Montana men’s basketball team.
A trip to Seattle provides a great challenge and opportunity, where the 7-4 Grizzlies take on the much-improved 9-3 Washington Huskies Friday night.
UM has already clinched a winning record in non-conference play for the first time in six seasons, and the Griz just dominated UC Riverside and UC Irvine in back-to-back home games earlier this week. Travis DeCuire even admitted the 86-68 victory over Irvine on Tuesday might have been the most complete performance for his team in his four seasons as head coach, so the Grizzlies are rolling into one of their toughest tests of the year.
“Every time we get to play a Power 5 (conference) school it’s a big game,” said senior forward Fabijan Krslovic. “It’s something that we always, when the schedule comes out, we look forward to those games. We circle them a little bit. We look forward to that.”
“They’re about as talented as anyone we’ve played all year,” said Decuire. “So for us, we need to execute against a zone. We’ve got to get the ball to the right places and finish plays. But at the end of the day we’re going to have to defend. If we can defend as a group and give the same effort defensively and be aggressive, we’ll give ourselves a chance to compete. If we could pull it off, it would be a great way to go into conference with a streak.”
Besides going against a Pac-12 opponent, the game also gives the Grizzlies a few other unique opportunities. Washington’s leading scorer, Jaylen Nowell, is DeCuire’s cousin. The two starting point guards, David Crisp and Ahmaad Rorie, are also cousins that played together in high school, and will go against each other for the first time.
The game tips off at 9 p.m. (MT) in Seattle Friday night and airs on Pac-12 Network.