McKINNEY DROPS 27 IN 2ND HALF, MEN'S HOOPS WINS IN OGDEN FOR 2ND TIME

McKINNEY DROPS 27 IN 2ND HALF, MEN'S HOOPS WINS IN OGDEN FOR 2ND TIME

OGDEN, Utah -- Sacramento State senior guard Mikh McKinney put on a show yet again, scoring 27 of his career-high 33 points in the second half to lead the Hornets to a 78-71 road win at Weber State on Saturday evening at the Dee Events Center.

McKinney, who was just named to the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Watch List, played all 40 minutes of the game while shooting 10-of-16 from the floor, 5-of-7 from the 3-point line and 8-of-10 from the free throw line. He also had a game-high seven assists with zero turnovers and a steal.

The third-year senior and team co-captain put on a shooting display in the second half, going 8-of-9 from the floor, 5-of-5 from the 3-point line and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. He scored 27 of the Hornets' 41 points in a second half which saw Sacramento State outscore the Wildcats, 41-34, after the game had been tied, 37-37, at halftime. McKinney scored 19 of the Hornets' final 22 points, and over the final 10:42, he went 5-of-5 from the field, 3-of-3 from distance and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. He buried late 3-pointers at the 4:01, 2:19, and 0:53 marks, the last of which came after he pulled an offensive rebound and buried the dagger which put the Hornets up, 75-69, with 53 seconds to play.

It was less than two weeks ago that McKinney put up the same amount of second-half points (27) in a 32-point effort in the Hornets' 79-76 home victory against Idaho on Jan. 15. His 33 total points surpassed his previous career high of 32, which he set on a pair of occasions this year. He has now gone over the 30-point plateau three times this season, and the 20-point plateau on eight occasions.

With the victory, Sacramento State improved to 13-6 overall, 7-1 in the Big Sky Conference, and the team remains all alone atop the league standings. The Hornets' 13-6 overall record matches the team's best mark after 19 games in the Div. I era (1991-pres.) and the last 27 years. The last time a Hornet squad was better than 13-6 after 19 games came during the Div. II era when the 1987-88 squad was 15-4 (the 2005-06 and 1988-89 teams were also 13-6).

The 7-1 Big Sky mark is the best for the Hornets since joining the league in 1996-97, the team won for just the second time ever in Ogden, Utah (2-20), and Sacramento State is now 5-5 on the road. Prior to tonight, the Hornets' lone win in Ogden came on Jan. 14, 2006.

In addition, the Hornets have won four straight, eight of their last nine overall, four of their last five road games, and the five road victories are already the third most in the Div. I era. With 10 conference games remaining, Sacramento State has never been in first place this late in the season since joining the Big Sky, and the team will likely improve upon its school-record No. 25 ranking in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major top 25 poll.

"It feels so good to finally get a win on Weber's home floor," McKinney said. "However, in reality, we can't get too hyped because this game didn't win us a conference championship. We followed the game plan tonight, made the right adjustments, and we were able to come out on top. I scored some buckets, but this was a team effort. Everyone had a hand in this victory."

In a game which featured eight ties, eight lead changes, and no team leading by more than seven points the entire way, it was Sacramento State that finished the game shooting .596 (28-47) from the field, .588 (10-17) from the 3-point line and .667 (12-18) from the free throw line. The Hornets shot a blistering .737 (14-19) from the field in the second half, including 6-of-8 from distance.

After a Cody Demps layup put the Hornets up, 64-63, with 5:52 remaining, Sacramento State never trailed the rest of the way. McKinney's three late triples extended Sacramento State's lead to 69-65 with 4:01 remaining, 72-67 with 2:19 left, and 75-69 with 53 seconds left. The Hornets made their final three free throws during the last 16 seconds to help put the game away.

Weber State held advantages in points in the paint (32-22), points off turnovers (17-8), second-chance points (19-15) and points off the bench (14-7), but could not overcome the Hornets' proficiency from the floor. In fact, the Wildcats (8-11, 3-5) also shot well from the field, converting on .474 (27-57) of their attempts, but just 6-of-21 from the 3-point line and 11-of-17 from the charity stripe.

Not only was McKinney on fire all evening, his backcourt mate, senior guard Dylan Garrity, scored 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, 4-of-6 from the 3-point line and 4-for-6 from the free throw line. Together, McKinney and Garrity combined to score 51 of Sacramento State's 78 points. It was Garrity that buried four 3-pointers during the first 13 minutes of the contest, and scored 15 of the Hornets' 37 first-half points.

"I was really happy the way our players stayed the course and didn't get intimidated by the shifts in momentum throughout the game," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "We were able to execute under pressure, score some big buckets late in the game, and that was the difference.

"Nothing Mikh (McKinney) does on the floor surprises me. Same with Dylan (Garrity). A lot of people like to call them the best backcourt in the Big Sky, and they really made a statement tonight. Weber State has a great coach, and has been the class of the league along with Montana for years, so this was definitely a noteworthy win. However, we have a lot of work to do, a lot of games left, and we're going to keep grinding."

Joining McKinney and Garrity in double figures for the Hornets was sophomore Eric Stuteville who had 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Demps added eight points, a season-high tying 10 rebounds and five assists. He was a game-high +12 in plus/minus ratio and finished the game 4-of-6 from the field go along with a blocked shot and a steal.

Four Weber State players scored in double figures, including Joel Bolomboy (21 points, 13 rebounds), Jeremy Senglin (15 points), Chris Golden (11 points) and Jaelyn Johnson-Coston (10 points and two steals).

Sacramento State returns home next week to what should be a soldout and jubilant Nest when the team hosts both Montana State on Thursday and Montana on Saturday. Both games tip at 7:05 p.m. The Hornets are 8-1 on the home floor this year, including 4-0 against Big Sky opposition.