MISSOULA — Montana junior Mike Oguine was smiling and hugging senior Fabijan Krslovic near the mid-court logo on Monday.
He turned around, realized teammate Sayeed Pridgett was shooting a free throw and quickly got back into game mode for the final seven-tenths of a second before the celebration could really begin.
Oguine had just played the best offensive game of his college career and looked like the best player on the basketball court during stretches. That’s saying something given that the opponent was the Pitt Panthers from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The 6-foot-2 guard mixed inside shots early with outside shots and free throws late as he scored a career-high 29 points in Montana’s 83-78 overtime victory in Pittsburgh.
He tallied Montana’s final 10 points of regulation and played 44:29 of the 45 minutes, sitting out for just a 31-second stretch midway through the first half.
His 10-of-22 shooting from the field broke down to:
- 8-of-15 inside the arc;
- 2-of-7 from 3-point range.
On two-point shots, he was:
- 7-of-12 on layups, including 6-of-7 in the first half;
- 1-of-1 on dunks;
- 0-of-2 on jumpers, both of which came when he pulled up on drives to the rim.
Of his seven layups, the drives came from:
- Wide right three times;
- The right side of the lane twice;
- Down the middle once;
- From the left side once.
“I feel like maybe they weren’t expecting me to drive as much as I was,” Oguine said in the postgame news conference. “I feel like they were kind of playing off of me. They had their guard down, so I feel like I was really able to get them at a stand-still, just a couple dribbles, get them off balance and just go to the rim.”
In terms of who was defending him on his 22 points from the field:
- He had 10 points and both 3-pointers while being guarded by freshman guard Parker Stewart;
- He scored six points, including three of his first four layups, with freshman guard Marcus Carr guarding him. On one, he drove wide right past Carr, stepped inside past Kene Chukwuka and finished with his left hand;
- He drove past senior forward Ryan Luther for a basket after a screen switched him off of senior guard Jonathan Milligan;
- He drove past freshman center Terrell Brown, had his shot altered at the rim by freshman forward Shamiel Stevenson and scored on a circus shot;
- His first layup came on a fast break.
He shot 7-of-12 at the free-throw line, which appeared to be Pitt’s best defensive strategy against the Chatsworth, California, native. He stepped up to shoot 6-of-8 in the second half after he was 1-of-4 in the first half.
Oguine had his 13 first-half points on six layups and one free throw. His layup with 20 seconds left in the first half gave Montana a 37-35 lead at the break.
He didn’t score again until he hit two free throws to pull the Griz within 54-53 with 8:32 to play. During that stretch, he missed two layups, two jumpers, two free throws and one 3-pointer.
As the game went on, Pitt tried to trap defensively or provide help to stop Oguine from penetrating to the basket. He scored 16 points on one layup, one dunk, two 3-pointers and six free throws in the second half. He missed four layups in the second half and overtime after just one such miss in the first half.
However, that adjustment left the 3-point line open, and he hit two 3-pointers in the final 2:56 of regulation after he started 0-of-3. On both shots, he had ample room between him and Stewart, who was playing back after having been burned earlier by Oguine’s quick first step.
“Second half, they did a pretty good job of adjusting,” Oguine said. “The 3-pointer was wide open because they were giving me so much room and their hands were down, so I was shooting those. I feel like I just got a good feel early on, and it let me get into a good rhythm.”
His final baskets came on two free throws that put the Griz ahead 73-71 with 59 seconds remaining. He missed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation and missed two layups in overtime, but DeCuire praised his defense to close the second half and during overtime.
When Oguine went scoreless in overtime, Ahmaad Rorie scored six of his 18 points during the five-minute session.
“One thing about these two guards,” DeCuire said of Oguine and Rorie, “is that they know how to get it done. When one’s not having a hot hand, the other one seems to pick up the slack for the other.”
Oguine was credited with six rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass, although film review showed just four. One in question came when Pitt rebounded the ball, and Oguine then got his hands on it to cause a jump ball. The other came when Karl Nicholas missed a free throw, Chukwuka grabbed the rebound, and Oguine immediately stole the ball out of Chukwuka’s hands and drew a foul.
He was credited with a team-high five assists, although the first assist he had attributed to him was dished out by Pridgett, the game film showed.