MEN'S HOOPS HOSTS SOUTHERN UTAH ON SATURDAY AT 7 P.M.

MEN'S HOOPS HOSTS SOUTHERN UTAH ON SATURDAY AT 7 P.M.

Sacramento State Game Notes (27 pages) - pdf
Big Sky Conference standings

GAME PREVIEW

• After a hard-fought 78-73 win over Northern Arizona to open the Big Sky season on Thursday, the Hornets (7-5, 1-0) are back in action Saturday night against Southern Utah (3-9, 0-1). Tip-off at the Nest is 7:05 p.m.
• This season marks the Hornets' 19th year in the Big Sky (1996-pres.), and Sacramento State will look for just its second 2-0 start since joining the league (2005-06 squad), and first in the Brian Katz era (2008-pres.).
• The Hornets have improved their conference record every season under Coach Katz.
• Last season, Sacramento State finished 10-10 in league play, and qualified for the Big Sky Tournament for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
• A win on Saturday would also give the Hornets their best overall record after 13 games since the 2005-06 squad began the year with an 8-5 record.
• The Hornets are 5-1 at home this year with the only loss coming by an 80-75 margin to a Portland team that is currently 10-4 and resides in the West Coast Conference.
• Sacramento State has won its last two games (including a 74-49 road win at Utah Valley last Saturday) after a rough patch in which the team lost four of five games.
• Sacramento State's probable starting five of Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney at guard, Cody Demps at swingman, Nick Hornsby at forward and Eric Stuteville at center has produced a 7-3 record this season when that fivesome starts.
• Southern Utah is coming off a 71-68 loss at Portland State in which the Thunderbirds trailed by four points or less the final five minutes of the game.
• Southern Utah is 1-6 on the road, and has dropped four straight on the road.
• Sacramento State is 8-15 all-time against Southern Utah, but that includes a 7-4 record when playing the Thunderbirds in Sacramento.
• The Hornets swept the season series against Southern Utah a year ago, and have won three of the last four games overall
• Last season, the Hornets defeated Southern Utah on the road by a 77-49 score, and knocked off the Thunderbirds at home by a 68-56 score.

TV/RADIO/VIDEO STREAM/LIVE STATS

• Every game the rest of the season, home or away, will be streamed live and free on www.WatchBigSky.com. Every home game will be streamed in HD. Fans will need to create an account before watching for the first time.
• Every game this season will be broadcast live on KTKZ 1380 AM 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 or on the iHeart Radio application for mobile devices.
• Live stats will be provided for every game this season, via www.hornetsports.com for 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' LAST GAME

• Five Hornets scored in double figures, led by Dylan Garrity's game-high 26 points, as the Hornets knocked off Northern Arizona, 78-73, at home on Thursday night.
• Sacramento State led for nearly 38 minutes of the contest.
• The game lasted over two hours, featured 46 combined fouls, 60 free throw attempts and just 14 turnovers.
• Sacramento State shot .510 (26-51) from the field, a season-high .692 (9-13) from the 3-point line and .773 (17-22) from the free throw line.
• That included 7-of-8 from the 3-point line in the second half.
• Garrity finished the game 5-for-7 from the 3-point line and 11-of-12 from the free throw line, and 23 of his points came in the second half. He went 9-of-10 from the free throw line over the final six minutes to help ice the win.
• After NAU used a 12-2 run to close within, 70-68, with 2:24 to play, Mikh McKinney hit a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and the game remained at least a two-possession contest the rest of the way.
• NAU shot .429 (21-49) from the field and went to the free throw line 38 times, but converted on just 25 of those freebies (.658).

ENJOYING THE HOME FLOOR

• Dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Sacramento State is 26-8 at the Nest, including an 11-3 mark last year. The 11 victories were the most home wins in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and most since the 1988-89 squad also posted 11 wins.
• The Hornets are now 9-2 against Big Sky foes at home dating back to last year including a school-record seven-game home winning streak against Big Sky teams last year.
• This season, the Hornets are 5-1 at home and outscoring the opposition by an average of 14.8 points per contest (77.0-62.2).
• Dating back to last season, the Hornets have won 13 of the last 15 games inside the friendly confines. That includes a 68-56 win against Southern Utah on Feb. 10, 2014.

EIGHT-MAN ROTATION

• Head coach Brian Katz has essentially used an eight-man rotation a good portion of the season, featuring guards Mikh McKinney, Dylan Garrity, Cody Demps and Dreon Barlett, forwards Nick Hornsby, Zach Mills and Alex Tiffin, and center Eric Stuteville.
• Each of those eight players are fully ingrained into Katz's rotation and make up the team's top eight scorers. Each is averaging at least 4.4 points per game.
• Katz has used the same starting lineup in 10 of 12 games thus far, consisting of Garrity and McKinney at guard, Demps at swingman, Hornsby at forward, and Stuteville at center. That lineup has produced a 7-3 record this year.

A PROFICIENT SHOOTING TEAM FROM EVERYWHERE

• Sacramento State ranks among the top 45 teams in the nation in field goal percentage (.474, 43rd), 3-point percentage (.396, 25th) and free throw percentage (.742, 29th).
• The field goal and 3-point percentages both rank third in the Big Sky, and the Hornets have already shot at least .500 FG% on seven occasions and are 6-1 in those games.
• Of the Hornets' top eight scorers, seven are shooting at least .450, including Dreon Barlett (.567), Mikh McKinney (.534), Nick Hornsby (.479) and Zach Mills (.477).
• In part, because of the abundance of makes, Hornet opponents are grabbing just 31.5 rebounds per game, easily the lowest amount in the Big Sky.
• At home, the Hornets are shooting a robust .538 (168-312) from the field.

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 .311 this season, the second best mark among the 12 Big Sky teams.
• In eight of the team's 12 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 tied for second in the Big Sky with 7.4 steals per game. The Hornets still rank high despite recording a season-low one steal on Thursday vs. Northern Arizona.
• Sacramento State has tallied double figures in steals four times this season after recording at least 10 steals just twice in 30 games last year.
• McKinney is currently fourth in the nation with 3.1 steals per contest. He already has 34 steals (10th in the nation), and the next closest Hornet (Dylan Garrity) has 13 steals.
• McKinney has at least one steal in all 11 games he's played.

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 season.

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 ON THE SAME SQUAD

• 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 now 10th in Hornet history with 1,116 points. He is just 34 points shy of moving into ninth place.
• 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. McKinney's 1,043 points still rank 13th, and he is 21 points shy of moving into 12th place.
• 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 Michael Boyd.

GARRITY ON FIRE FROM DISTANCE

• Over the last two games, senior guard Dylan Garrity has been on fire. Including a career-high 28 points at Utah Valley, and 26 more against Northern Arizona, Garrity is shooting .786 (11-14) from the 3-point line and .944 (17-18) from the free throw line during that two-game stretch.
• Garrity is now fourth in the Big Sky and 17th in the nation with a .472 3-point field goal percentage. He also ranks fifth in the league and 62nd in the nation with an .850 free throw percentage.
• He's bumped his scoring average up to 14.2 points per game, 11th best in the Big Sky.
• Garrity has buried at least two 3-pointers in all but one game this season, and 72 of his 109 field goal attempts have come from beyond the 3-point arc.
• Garrity can also handle the rock, as he is second in program history and ninth in Big Sky history with 472 assists. He needs 29 assists to claim the No. 1 spot in Hornet history.

McKINNEY PUTTING TOGETHER A MONSTER SEASON

• Senior Mikh McKinney has been incredible this season, averaging 17.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.1 steals per game while shooting .534 (71-133) from the field and .838 (31-37) from the free throw line.
• Perhaps the most impressive stat from his line is the field goal percentage (.534), a ridiculously high percentage for a guard.
• He ranks among the Big Sky's top eight players in seven categories, including first in steals, second in minutes (35.4), third in scoring, assists, and assist/turnover ratio (+2.4), sixth in free throw percentage and eighth in field goal percentage.
• Has scored at least 11 points in nine straight games, and in 10 of the 11 games he's appeared. Has scored in double figures in 55 career games.
• His average of 3.1 steals per game is the fourth best mark in the nation.
• Has started all 70 games in which he's played in a Sacramento State uniform.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Either Dylan Garrity (four times) or Mikh McKinney (three times) has led the Hornets in scoring in each of the last seven games.
• Garrity (52 straight) and Cody Demps (42 straight) both have long streaks of consecutive starts. Garrity's streak dates back to the 2012-13 season. McKinney has started all 70 games he's appeared, but missed this year's season opener at Gonzaga.
• The Hornets' top five players in terms of plus/minus ratio, a stat used to determine how a team does when a particular player is on the floor, are Demps (+57), McKinney (+52), Garrity (+36), Zach Mills (+28) and Alex Tiffin (+18).
• Dreon Barlett is shooting a career .431 from the 3-point line, including .474 this year.
• Zach Mills' 12 points vs. NAU ended a string of eight straight games of seven points or less.
• Twenty of sophomore Nick Hornsby's 58 points this season came in one game - against Utah Valley on Dec. 1 when he shot 8-for-8 from the field.
• In the 10 games he comes off the bench, Tiffin is shooting .541 (20-37) from the field.
• Over the last four games, center Eric Stuteville is averaging 9.8 points on .636 (14-22) shooting from the field, including a season-best 16 points vs. Northern Arizona.
• Sacramento State has 159 assists this season, translating to 13.3 per game, which is the second best mark in the Big Sky.
• The Hornets grab just 8.4 offensive rebounds per game, the worst mark in the Big Sky. The team has seven second chance points or less in five straight games.
• Sacramento State is getting nearly 20 points per game (19.2) from its bench.