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Brawl of the Wild Round 2: Grizzlies, Bobcats set to duel again in Missoula doubleheader

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Feb 16, 2024

MISSOULA — On Saturday, it's Round 2 of the Brawl of the Wild basketball series between Montana and Montana State.

That will take place on Robin Selvig Court at Dahlberg Arena as the Griz men and Bobcat women are looking to get season sweeps over their rivals. The women's game will tip off at 2 p.m. while the men will being play at 7.

After meeting in Bozeman in January, it's Montana's turn to host, and for the Grizzly men, they're looking to get their first sweep of the Bobcats since the 2019-20 season.

"Gives us that confidence, you know that we got them once we just got to get them again, especially doing it on the road. Makes it tough," UM senior guard Josh Vazquez said. "So coming back home, kind of gets the little edge that we need. And just more confidence."

The Griz (16-9, 7-5 Big Sky) are 4-3 since seeing MSU while the Bobcats (11-14, 6-6) are 3-4. At this point, both teams are plenty familiar with each other personally, and what they've done since they met.

"I've always felt the second time around the players take over, the scout’s the scout, it never changes that much," UM head coach Travis DeCuire said. "You might see some things from the previous game, you might see some things in their more recent games that you might make some adjustments to, but they're familiar enough with each other in a rival game in front of big crowds.

"The second time around usually the players determine who wins that game moreso than the scout or the coaching staff."

For MSU, it's about trying to get one back, while entering hostile territory.

"It's exciting," MSU head coach Matt Logie said. "You know, that's what you dream about as a kid, coming into packed arenas and playing for something with a lot on the line. And so we're excited for that it should be, you know, should be a great environment."

"First environment there, it was a different. It's like a game you want to be in, those big games, those I-can't-hear-what-the-coach-is-saying games, you want to be in," MSU senior guard Robert Ford III said. "It’s a good environment. I'm glad to be a part of it."

In the women's game, both programs are 5-2 since playing the first time and are top four in the league.

The Bobcats (14-11, 8-4) look for the sweep, as they aim to finish strong heading into the final weeks before the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise, Idaho.

"You get really hungry in February as far as you're finishing the grind of the season and you're on the tail end of the last four weeks, and you want to finish really strong heading into the tournament," MSU head coach Tricia Binford said. "And we feel like we're doing some things really well. We want to make sure we're moving forward and getting better."

"Some of the freshmen, they were able to kind of see, but I told them, I was like, our bench is right by their band and their student section," senior guard Madison Hall said. "So you guys are going to have to stare one way and you're going to have to lock into the team. Because they're gonna get personal. And that's, you know, that's just how it is, it's competition."

Since 2016-17, MSU has dominated the rivalry with a 13-2 record against Montana, so for UM, it's about getting over that hump and getting their first win against the Bobcats since they beat them two years ago in Missoula.

"There's stuff we'll look at how they how they cover defensively, how they do different things, defending us more than anything," UM head coach Brian Holsinger said. "And then you look at what they've been doing recently. So what they do against us, what they've been doing recently, and you try to tie the two together the best you can."

"I think a big point of emphasis for our team this entire year, not just with this game, has been learn from every game we play, whether it's a win or a loss, and Brian emphasizes that," UM senior forward Carmen Gfeller said. "If you win and learn, that's a great outcome. And so, obviously things didn't go our way last time, but just taking everything that we can from that game and moving forward with it will be really important."