(RMC release)

BILLINGS – The Rocky Mountain College men’s basketball team returns from the holiday break this weekend as they play host to the Hampton Inn/Wells Fargo Green & Gold Classic. Rocky will face Dickinson State on Friday and then faces San Diego Christian on Saturday. Both of the Rocky games will tip at 7:30 p.m.

Montana Western will play at 1:30 p.m. both days, facing San Diego Christian on Friday and Dickinson State on Saturday.

All games of the Green & Gold Classic will have live video available on the Rocky Athletics You Tube page by following @battlinbears.

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Rocky returns to action at 7-5 overall this season after going 1-2 during the Cactus Classic in Arizona before the break. The weekend sees the Battlin’ Bears return to the Fortin Center for the first time since falling to MSU Billings, 82-72, in an exhibition game on November 1. Rocky is 2-0 in countable home games after wins over Yellowstone Christian and Salish Kootenai in late October.

The Battlin’ Bears started the season with six straight wins, but they have struggled of late with only one win in their last six outings. They are 0-2 in Frontier Conference play to sit tied with Montana Tech as the only teams without a conference win through one weekend of play.

Rocky ranks 17th in the NAIA by scoring 91.9 points per game this season and they are shooting 48.4 percent from the floor to rank 32nd nationally. They make 9.5 3-pointers per game and convert on 39.3 percent from deep. The team collects 43.0 rebounds per game and makes 71.3 percent at the foul line.

Defensively, the Battlin’ Bears are allowing 73.8 points per game to rank 17th in the NAIA. Rocky limits the opposition to 41.0 percent from the field and they force 17.4 turnovers per game while getting 9.2 steals and 4.1 blocks per game.

Jared Samuelson leads the team and ranks third in the Frontier in scoring at 18.5 points per game. In the last six games, Samuelson has two 30-point scoring games, two 20-point outings and he has raised his season average by nearly seven points per game. He was the Frontier Conference Player of the Week on December 18 after getting 24 points and 17 rebounds against Menlo in the opener of the Cactus Classic.

Latrelle Franklin is second in the team in scoring at 13.8 points per game and he leads the team with 66 assists and 24 steals. Franklin ranks fourth in the NAIA at 5.50 assists per game and eighth in total assists. He is also 26th nationally with an average of 2.00 steals per game while his steal total is 29th in the country.

Chad Kananen averages 10.0 points per game and has a team-best 32 makes from beyond the arc. Kananen is 31st nationally in made 3-pointers and 41st at 2.67 made threes per game. He shoots 45.7 percent from deep to place 42nd in the NAIA.

Next week, Rocky will remain home as they return to Frontier Conference play with a pair of home games against national ranked opponents. The Battlin’ Bears will welcome No. 11 Lewis-Clark State on January 4 before facing No. 17 Montana Western on January 6. Both games will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. in the Fortin Center.