MEN’S HOOPS 8-5 AND 2-0 IN THE BIG SKY AFTER 90-75 WIN OVER SOUTHERN UTAH

MEN’S HOOPS 8-5 AND 2-0 IN THE BIG SKY AFTER 90-75 WIN OVER SOUTHERN UTAH

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Five Hornets scored in double figures tonight, led by Mikh McKinney's game-high 21 points, as Sacramento State defeated Southern Utah, 90-75, in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Saturday evening at the Nest.

With the victory, Sacramento State won its third straight game while improving to 8-5 overall and 2-0 in the Big Sky. The Hornets' 8-5 record is their best after 13 games since the 2005-06 squad also accomplished the feat, and the team is 2-0 in the Big Sky for just the second time since joining the conference prior to the 1996-97 season.

In addition, Sacramento State improved to 6-1 at home, has won 14 of its last 16 games inside the Nest dating back to last season, and has won 10 of its last 12 home games against Big Sky opposition dating back to last year.

In a game in which Sacramento State led from start to finish, the Hornets posted season highs in field goals made (38), field goals attempted (62) and assists (25). In addition, the team's 90 points, its field goal percentage of .613, and blocked shots (7) were the second best marks of the year.

The Hornets posted their most points in the first half this season after racing to a 52-37 halftime lead, and finished the game shooting .613 (38-62) from the field, .500 (4-8) from the 3-point line and .833 (10-12) from the free throw line. That included sizeable advantages in points in the paint (54-28), points off turnovers (16-6), second chance points (13-8) and fast break points (6-0). The Hornets also held a 35-24 advantage in the rebounding department and committed just three turnovers the entire way. That breaks down to better than 8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in tonight's game.

Sacramento State opened the game on a 10-2 run and never looked back, leading by at least six points the rest of the game. Southern Utah (3-10, 0-2) was able to slice a 52-37 halftime deficit all the way down to eight points (77-69) with 3:36 remaining, but the Hornets finished the final 3:07 of the contest on a 13-6 run. In fact, Sacramento State scored on seven of its final eight possessions to help put the game away.

"When you have 25 assists and just three turnovers while shooting 61 percent from the field, you can't get much better offensively and I was really pleased with that," Sacramento State seventh-year head coach Brian Katz said. "I was excited the convincing way we outrebounded Southern Utah, and we got very good production from a lot of players tonight.

"Having said all of that, the thing I was most excited about was the way we executed down the stretch after Southern Utah cut the lead to eight points. That was some of the best execution I've seen during my time here."

Southern Utah was able to stay within striking distance by shooting .458 (27-59) from the field, .409 (9-22) from the 3-point line and .800 (12-15) from the free throw line. However, the Hornets were too proficient from the field, shooting better than 59 percent from the floor in both halves. Sacramento State has now shot at least 50 percent from the field in four of its last five game and now sits second in the Big Sky and among the top 25 teams in the nation with a .487 season field goal percentage.

McKinney posted his fifth game of the season with 20-plus points after the senior finished with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 2-of-3 from the 3-point line and 3-for-3 from the free throw line. He also added four assists and three rebounds in just 24 minutes before fouling out with 2:25 remaining in the game. The team co-captain is now averaging 17.4 points per game, the third best mark in the conference.

Senior guard Dylan Garrity continued his torrid pace by finishing with 18 points, a career-high tying six rebounds, a season-best nine assists, zero turnovers and one steal in 35 minutes. He shot 7-of-12 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. Over his last three games, the reigning Big Sky Player of the Week is averaging 24.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists on .667 (20-30) shooting from the field, .667 (12-18) from the 3-point line and .909 (20-22) from the free throw line.

Joining McKinney and Garrity in double figures for the Hornets were junior Cody Demps (14 points, six assists and two steals), sophomore Eric Stuteville (12 points and a career-high five blocked shots in just 18 minutes), and senior Zach Mills (11 points, three rebounds and two steals). The Hornets also received six points and a season-high seven rebounds from senior Alex Tiffin, and six points and season-high tying eight rebounds from sophomore Nick Hornsby.

Four Southern Utah players scored in double figures, comprised of A.J. Hess (17), James McGee (11), Casey Oliverson (11) and Trey Kennedy (11). Amazingly, seven different Thunderbirds connected on at least one 3-pointer as the team went 9-of-22 from distance.

The Hornets return to action next week as they embark upon their first Big Sky road trip of the season. That includes games on Thursday at North Dakota (5:05 p.m. PST) and Saturday at Northern Colorado (6:05 p.m. PST).

NOTES -- The Hornets are one of four teams in the Big Sky with a 2-0 league record, including Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana…Garrity now has 481 career assists, and is just 21 assists shy of surpassing DaShawn Freeman's mark of 501, and becoming the program's all-time assists leader.