Mike Terry, Deseret News
Weber State closed its nonconference schedule last week with a stellar effort in a loss to BYU.
The Wildcats will need to keep playing that way in order to be successful in the Big Sky, especially in their first two conference games.
Weber State begins league play with the toughest road trip in the Big Sky. The Wildcats open with the dreaded Montana trip, as they play at Montana State tonight and at Montana in a New Year's Eve afternoon matchup on Friday.
Weber State enters conference play with some momentum. The Wildcats were within striking distance of nationally ranked BYU late in last week's game. They got great efforts from Kyle Bullinger (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Scott Bamforth (17 points) and will need everyone to keep stepping up with star guard Damian Lillard out for the season with a broken foot.
"That's the kind of effort we're going to need every game from here on out," coach Randy Rahe said of the BYU game.
Weber State will certainly be looking to avenge its loss to Montana in the Big Sky championship game on Friday, but can't look past a tough Montana State team. The Bobcats are unbeaten at home and feature two quality scorers in Erik Rush and Bobby Howard. Both players average 15.3 points per game.
The Bobcats lead the Big Sky in 3-pointers made per game, averaging nine a contest.
"They are playing very well at home this season, so I would expect to see their very best on (tonight)," Rahe said. "Bobby Howard is one tough hombre on both ends of the court and Erik Rush is playing the best basketball of his career."
The Wildcats have enjoyed success on Montana State's court, winning three of the last four meetings there. Weber State has also figured out its winning formula in games this season: sharing the ball and rebounding. In their victories, they have had five players average double-figures scoring and they have outrebounded opponents by 7.1 boards per game.
Wildcats' Big Sky opener
Weber State (6-5) at Montana State (6-6)
Tonight, 7:05 p.m.
Worthington Arena, Bozeman, Mont.
TV: None Radio: 1430 AM
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