MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS FINAL NON-LEAGUE GAME SATURDAY AT UTAH VALLEY

MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS FINAL NON-LEAGUE GAME SATURDAY AT UTAH VALLEY

Sacramento State Game Notes - 25 pages (pdf)
Big Sky Conference Standings

GAME PREVIEW

• Sacramento State (5-5) will play its final non-conference game of the season this Saturday when the team travels to Orem, Utah, to face Utah Valley (4-7) at 6:05 p.m. PST.
• Saturday will mark the second meeting of the season between the two teams, as the Hornets won in Sacramento, 65-56, on Dec. 1.
• The Hornets have dropped four of their last five games, and are averaging just 63.6 points over that span. That includes season lows in both points (47) and field goal percentage (.304) in Sunday's 66-47 loss at Seattle.
• After Saturday's game, the Hornets will open an 18-game Big Sky Conference schedule on New Year's Day with a home game against Northern Arizona.
• The Hornets are 2-3 all-time against Utah Valley, and all five meetings have taken place over the last 10 years.
• Sacramento State is 0-2 on the road vs. the Wolverines, and will be playing in Orem for the first time since the 2010-11 season (77-52 loss). The Hornets' other meeting on the road against Utah Valley came during the 2005-06 season (a 71-69 overtime loss).
• Sacramento State's victory earlier this year snapped a three-game losing streak vs. the Wolverines.
• Utah Valley won the Western Athletic Conference regular season title last year and lost at Cal, 77-64, in the first round of the NIT.
• Should Sacramento State win on Saturday, it would mark just the fourth time since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996-97 the team would enter league play with a record above .500 (the 2012-13, 2005-06 and 1999-00 squads also accomplished the feat).
• The Hornets are 5-5, and share nearly identical marks with their opponents in field goal percentage (.464-.459), rebounds (30.7-31.6) and scoring (68.2-68.5).
• Over the last few weeks, Sacramento State has seen two players join the 1,000-point club in Dylan Garrity (1,062) and Mikh McKinney (1,019). The pair become the 12th and 13th players, respectively, in school history to tally 1,000 career points.

TV/RADIO/VIDEO STREAM/LIVE STATS

• Utah Valley is offering a free live video stream through www.wacsports.tv. Fans can access that link by clicking here. All home games are streamed live and free in HD at WatchBigSky.com.
• Every game this year will be broadcast live on KTKZ 1380 AM The Answer with 18th-year play-by-play man Steve McElroy calling all the action.
• Fans outside the Sacramento area can listen to all games via www.hornetsports.com.
• Live stats will be provided for every game this season, via www.hornetsports.com for all home games, or provided by the opponent's website for games on the road.
• Links for all multimedia options can be found next to each game on the men's basketball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.

A LOOK AT THE HORNETS' EARLIER GAME VS. UTAH VALLEY

• Sophomore Nick Hornsby scored a career-high 20 points and the Hornets led by at least six points the final 27 minutes on the way to a 65-56 victory over Utah Valley on Dec. 1 at the Nest.
• The Hornets held a lead for nearly 38 minutes (37:40) of the contest, and Utah Valley's lone advantage came at 2-0 and that lead lasted just 12 seconds.
• Sacramento State used an 8-0 run during the final two minutes of the first half, punctuated by a Dylan Garrity 25-footer at the buzzer, to take a 39-25 lead into the break.
• The Hornets held at least a three-possession lead a good portion of the second half and pushed that advantage to a game-high 15 points (62-47) with 5:59 to play.
• However, the Hornets let Utah Valley back in the game by missing the front end of 1-and-1 free throw situations or turning the ball over on five straight possessions. The Wolverines used that momentum to cut the Hornet lead to 62-56 with 2:17 to play.
• A free throw from Hornsby and a driving layup from Mikh McKinney with one minute to play pushed the lead back to nine points (65-56). Neither team would score the rest of the way as the Hornets ran out the clock.
• The Hornets shot .568 (25-44) from the field, including 6-of-15 (.400) from the 3-point line. The Wolverines shot .396 from the floor, including just 3-of-19 from beyond the 3-point arc.

ADJUSTMENT IN THE STARTING LINEUP

• Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz had used the same starting lineup in eight consecutive games until making one change in the game at Seattle.
• Senior Alex Tiffin replaced sophomore Nick Hornsby in the lineup at forward.
• Prior to that switch, Katz had gone with Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney at guard, Cody Demps at swingman, Hornsby at forward and Eric Stuteville at center for the better part of five weeks.
• The usual starting lineup is 5-3 while the other lineups are a combined 0-2.
• The usual fivesome has been together for over 101 minutes of floor time this year, and has combined to outscore the opposition by 8.7 points during that time.

EIGHT-MAN ROTATION

• In three of the last six games, head coach Brian Katz has used eight players. One of those games included the victory against Utah Valley on Dec. 1.
• Guards Mikh McKinney, Dylan Garrity, Cody Demps and Dreon Barlett, forwards Nick Hornsby, Zach Mills and Alex Tiffin, and center Eric Stuteville are fully ingrained into Katz's rotation.
• Each of those eight players make up the team's top eight scorers, and each of them is averaging at least 4.5 points per game.

LOOKING TO GET ON TRACK ON THE ROAD

• The Hornets are 1-4 on the road this year, which includes a current three-game road losing streak since the team's lone win away from home on Nov. 17 at UC Riverside.
• In each of the team's four road losses, Sacramento State has been outscored by at least 11 points, including a 66-47 loss at Seattle in the team's last game on Dec. 21.
• Perhaps the biggest problem for the Hornets on the road is the team's inability to shoot with any kind of consistency. Sacramento State is shooting .387 (104-269) from the field and .345 (30-87) from the 3-point line.
• In addition, Sacramento State is being outrebounded by 8.0 boards per contest (36.8-28.8) on the road and being outscored, 77.0-59.6.

PROFICIENT FROM THE FIELD

• Despite shooting a season-low .304 at Seattle, Sacramento State is still shooting .464 from the field this year, the third best mark in the 12-team Big Sky Conference.
• The Hornets have already shot at least .500 on five occasions and are 4-1 when connecting at .500 or higher.
• Four of the Hornets' top eight scorers are shooting at least .500 from the field, comprised of Mikh McKinney (.554), Dreon Barlett (.538), Alex Tiffin (.512), and Nick Hornsby (.500).

DEFENDING THE 3-POINT LINE

• The Hornets did a nice job of defending the 3-point line last season, limiting the opposition to just .344 from distance. Sacramento State is at it again, limiting opponents to just .325 this season, the third best mark among the 12 Big Sky teams.
• In six of the team's 10 games, the opposition has shot .333 or worse from deep.

THIEVERY

• Due in large part to the swiping skills of guard Mikh McKinney, Sacramento State is first in the Big Sky with 8.0 steals per game.
• That mark is also the 55th best average in the nation.
• Sacramento State has tallied double figures in steals in three of the last five games after recording at least 10 steals just two times in 30 games last year.
• McKinney is currently third in the nation with 3.2 steals per contest. He already has 29 steals (17th in the nation), and the next closest Hornet (Dylan Garrity) has 13 steals.

IMPROVEMENT EVERY YEAR UNDER COACH KATZ

• Sacramento State has improved its conference record every year since head coach Brian Katz took over the program prior the 2008-09 season.
• After going 1-15 during Katz's first season in 2008-09, the Hornets went 3-13 in 2009-10, 4-12 in 2010-11, 5-11 in 2011-12, 8-12 in 2012-13, and 10-10 last year.

HORNETS PICKED HIGH IN PRESEASON RANKINGS

• Of the seven preseason polls released projecting the Big Sky, the Hornets were picked among the top four teams in all seven polls. That includes a first place prediction from Blue Ribbon, a second place prediction by ESPN and third place by The Sporting News.
• The Hornets were tabbed fourth in both the Big Sky coaches and media polls.

TWO 1,000 POINT SCORERS IN A TWO-WEEK SPAN

• Early in the Abilene Christian game, senior guard Dylan Garrity became the 12th player in school history to score 1,000 career points, and is just three points shy of moving into 11th place in the Hornet record book (Michael Boyd is 11th with 1,064 points).
• Exactly 10 days later, senior guard Mikh McKinney became the 13th player to score 1,000 points with his layup at the 4:58 mark of the second half against Portland.
• Together, they became just the sixth and seventh players to reach 1,000 points during the program's Div. I era (1991-pres.), joining John Dickson, Loren Leath, Damond Edwards, Alex Bausley and Boyd.

GARRITY FROM LONG RANGE

• Senior Dylan Garrity's 164 career 3-pointers made are now the fifth best mark in school history, and his .418 3-point percentage ranks as the fourth best mark.
• He has buried at least two 3-pointers in all but one game this season, and currently has averages of 11.6 points, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Fifty-eight of his 91 field goal attempts have come from beyond the 3-point arc.
• Garrity, who has raised his scoring average every year of his career, is now just three points shy of overtaking Michael Boyd (1,064 points) for 11th place in Hornet history.

McKINNEY PUTTING TOGETHER A MONSTER SEASON

• Senior Mikh McKinney has been incredible this season, averaging 18.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.2 steals per game while shooting .554 (62-112) from the field and .844 (27-32) from the free throw line.
• Perhaps the most impressive stat from his line is the field goal percentage (.554), a ridiculously high percentage for a guard.
• He ranks among the Big Sky's top seven players in seven categories, including first in steals (3.2), second in minutes (35.1), third in scoring and assist/turnover ratio (+2.4), fourth in assists and seventh in both field goal and free throw percentage.
• Has scored at least 12 points in seven straight games, and in eight of the nine games he's appeared. Has scored in double figures in 53 career games.
• His average of 3.2 steals is the third best mark in the nation.
• Has started all 68 games in which he's played in a Sacramento State uniform.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Dylan Garrity (50 straight) and Cody Demps (40 straight) both have long streaks of consecutive starts. Garrity's streak dates back to the 2012-13 season. Mikh McKinney has started all 68 games he's appeared, but missed the season opener at Gonzaga.
• The Hornets' top four players in terms of plus/minus, a stat used to determine how a team does when a particular player is on the floor, are Demps (+26), McKinney (+22), Nick Hornsby (+11) and Garrity (+8).
• McKinney (15 straight) and Alex Tiffin (13 straight) both have lengthy consecutive free throw make streaks. Demps had made 10 straight until a miss at Seattle.
• Dreon Barlett is shooting a career .414 from the 3-point line, including .412 this year.
• Since posting back-to-back games with double figures in scoring, forward Zach Mills has scored seven points or less in seven consecutive games.
• Twenty of sophomore Nick Hornsby's 55 points this season came in one game - against Utah Valley on Dec. 1 when he shot 8-for-8 from the field while also posting five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in 29 minutes.
• In two starts this season, forward Alex Tiffin is shooting 2-for-10 from the field. In the eight games he comes off the bench, Tiffin is shooting .613 (19-31) from the field.
• Sophomore center Eric Stuteville is 6-for-9 from the field over the last two games after shooting .379 (22-58) through the first eight games of the season.
• The Hornets rank among the top 70 teams in the nation in steals per game (55th, 8.0), free throw percentage (57th, .728) and field goal percentage (69th, .464).