BUTTE — The Orediggers are going to face an early-season litmus test.
The Montana Tech men's basketball team announced in June that they had scheduled a non-conference game against the University of Houston and former Tech head coach Kelvin Sampson on Nov. 6 at the Fertitta Center in Houston.
The two teams had scheduled the game for last season, but pandemic restrictions ultimately scrubbed the contest.
The Cougars emerged as a powerhouse last season, winning the American Athletic Conference tournament and entering the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed. From there, Houston toppled Cleveland State, Rutgers, Syracuse and Oregon State en route to a Final Four berth, where the Cougars fell to eventual champion Baylor.
"We get to go down and play a Final Four team from last year," said current Tech head coach Adam Hiatt. "They're gonna have a lot of great players back. And Kelvin Sampson means so much to our program. More importantly, I know he's gonna teach our guys the right way to play the game just by the nature of the competition."
"We preach the importance of playing hard and playing physical and playing with toughness. Our guys are gonna get a first-hand look at what that means. And so we're extremely excited to go down and play Houston on November 6."
This will be the second meeting between the two programs, and the first for Hiatt and any current Orediggers. The last game between Tech and Houston was Nov. 13, 2015 where the Cougars prevailed for a 95-65 win.
Win or lose, Hiatt said his primary focus as Tech looks toward November is simply making sure his team plays its absolute best game.
"We just want to go down and see how hard we compete, that's the biggest thing," Hiatt said. "I can tell you it's gonna be a packed house. Those are the things we're looking forward to as well as it's a great litmus test for some of our players that have aspirations to play on beyond college."