MSU Men's Bball v. MSU Northern

Bobcats senior Keljin Blevins, seen here in a game last year, spent the offseason improving his conditioning. Montana State opens its season tonight at Worthington Arena against Utah State.

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Montana State entered halftime Tuesday with its two leading scorers having combined for three points. The Bobcats had only scored less and shot worse in one previous half. They trailed Binghamton by three.

Tyler Hall and Harald Frey turned it around in the second, however, leading MSU (3-2) to a 74-64 win over the Bearcats in its Cancun Challenge opener in Mexico. The duo combined for 28 in the final 20 minutes, and after missing Saturday’s game at Louisiana Tech with an ankle injury, Hall played 35 minutes.

“I thought first half we were a little bit hesitant, not aggressive, a little bit lacking passion there early on,” MSU head coach Brian Fish said. “We turned the ball over nine times — seven of them were unforced. Then in the second half I thought we were a completely opposite team.”

BU led 31-28 at halftime, a testament to the slower pace it dictated. While Hall and Frey struggled to produce early, Keljin Blevins and Isaac Bonton carried the scoring load, combining for half of MSU’s points.

The Bobcats sped the game up by attacking the rim after the break, creating open looks and getting to the free-throw line. MSU shot 59 percent from the field, its best half through five games, and converted 14 of 15 free throws.

After being held largely in check early, Hall knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to tie things at 33. Frey hit a deep 3 from the top of the key a couple minutes later. Konner Frey followed it up with an and-one to push the Bobcats’ lead to six and MSU never trailed again.

“That’s a recipe for a win and we did it so that was good,” Fish said.

A Frey defensive rebound led to another Hall 3 to push the lead to eight. A minute after that, Hall banked in a layup, drew a foul and hit the free throw. Harald Frey added back-to-back 3s, the first from the corner off a Hall cross-court pass and the second from the wing also off a Hall assist.

The Bearcats took a timeout when facing a 13-point deficit, their largest to that point, with nine minutes remaining.

BU mounted a seven-point run to pull to within six with less than two minutes left, but the Bobcats hung on.

MSU next faces Southeast Missouri State at 1 p.m. today and Fish said Hall’s status is “50-50 at best.” Hall rolled his right ankle last week against Montana Western, but scored 13 once he returned.

“I’m not sure he’ll play tomorrow,” Fish said. “That’s why I didn’t take him out, because I thought him moving around was better and I thought we had to get one (win) to have a chance to get two so we played him extended minutes today.”

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Paul Schwedelson can be reached at or 582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.