1ST PLACE SHOWDOWN SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE NEST: MEN'S HOOPS VS. MONTANA

1ST PLACE SHOWDOWN SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE NEST: MEN'S HOOPS VS. MONTANA

Sacramento State Game Notes (pdf)
Big Sky Conference standings

GAME PREVIEW

• Winners of five straight, and nine of the last 10, Sacramento State (14-6, 8-1) will take on Montana (11-8, 7-1) on Saturday night at the Nest. Tip is 7:05 p.m.
• The winner of Saturday's game will sit in sole possession of first place in the conference standings, setting the scene for the biggest game at the Nest in years.
• The Hornets' 14-6 overall record is the best mark in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and the best since the 1988-89 team was also 14-6.
• The 8-1 Big Sky record is the best mark in program history, and the Hornets have never been in first place this late in the year since joining the league in 1996-97.
• The five-game winning streak matches the team's longest winning streak in the Div. I era (2005-06 team) and the last 28 years (the 1987-88 squad won six straight).
• The Hornets are currently ranked 20th in the nation in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major top 25 poll, the highest ranking in school history.
• ESPN Bracketology predicts the Hornets to represent the Big Sky in this year's NCAA Tournament in a play-in game vs. North Florida with the winner taking on Kentucky.
• Should the Hornets win on Saturday, the potential 15-6 record would be the team's best since the 1987-88 squad was 16-5 after 21 games. That 1987-88 team, part of the Div. II era, was also the last team to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
• Should the Hornets win Saturday and increase their winning streak to six games, that would be the longest streak since the 1987-88 squad won six consecutive games.
• A win on Saturday would also tie the high water mark for most victories during the Div. I era as the 2005-06 squad finished the season 15-15. The Hornets have never finished with an overall record above .500 during the Div. I era (1991-pres.).
• A win on Saturday would give Coach Katz his most victories with the Hornets.
• Trailing Sacramento State (8-1) in the Big Sky standings are Montana (7-1) and Eastern Washington (6-1). Every other team has at least three conference losses.
• Sacramento State is 9-1 at home this season, including 5-0 in Big Sky play. Dating back to last year, the Hornets have won 13 of the last 15 home games vs. league teams.
• Montana has won a league-best six straight games, including Thursday's impressive 73-54 road victory at Portland State. The Grizzlies are 3-6 on the road this year.
• In a series that dates back to 1992, Montana is 36-5 all-time against the Hornets.
• The Hornets have dropped 15 straight games to the Grizzlies with the last win coming at home (80-72) on Jan. 4, 2007. Coach Katz has never defeated Montana since taking over the head coaching duties at Sacramento State prior to the 2008-09 season.
• The Hornets are 4-16 all-time when playing the Grizzlies in Sacramento.

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

• Playing in front of an energetic overflow crowd at the Nest, Sacramento State defeated Montana State on Thursday night by a 75-59 score.
• The Hornets used a 16-3 run late in the second half to push a 57-52 lead all the way to a 73-55 advantage with 1:24 remaining.
• In a game where neither team led by more than five points the first 32 minutes of the contest, Sacramento State was finally able to break free with the late run.
• Four Hornets scored in double figures, including Mikh McKinney (23 points, eight assists, five steals), Dylan Garrity (18 points, four 3-pointers and five assists), Nick Hornsby (12 points, team-high seven rebounds) and Cody Demps (10 points).
• The Hornets shot .519 (28-54) from the field, and .471 (8-17) from the 3-point line.

A PROFICIENT SHOOTING TEAM FROM EVERYWHERE

• Sacramento State is one of just four teams in the nation to rank among the top 11 squads in both field goal percentage (11th, .495) and 3-point percentage (6th, .412).
• For good measure, the team is also 27th in the nation in free throw percentage (.740).
• The Hornets have shot at least .500 from the field on 12 occasions this year, and are 11-1 in those games. In addition, the Hornets have shot better than .590 four times, including a .596 percentage last Saturday at Weber State
• Of the Hornets' top eight scorers, five are shooting better than .480 from the field.
• The program record for single-season field goal percentage is .491 (1985-86), and 3-point field goal percentage is .418 (1987-88).

HOME SWEET HOME

• Dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Sacramento State is 30-8 at the Nest. That includes an 9-1 home mark this season, 11-3 last year, and 10-4 inside the friendly confines in 2012-13.
• The Hornets have won 13 of their last 15 home games against Big Sky teams, including a school-record seven-game home winning streak against Big Sky teams last year.
• This season, the Hornets are winning their home games by an average of 13.6 points.
• Overall, Sacramento State has won 17 of its last 19 home games.
• At home, the Hornets are shooting a blistering .545 (293-538) from the field and .436 (65-149) from the 3-point line. Of the 10 home games, Sacramento State has shot at least .500 from the floor on eight of those occasions.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES

• The Hornets are 4-0 in games decided by three points or less, 5-1 in games decided by five points or less, and 7-1 in games decided by single digits.
• Of the Hornets' eight conference wins, five have come by seven points or less.
• The Hornets are 8-1 in league despite outscoring the opposition by average of just 5.8 points per contest.

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. Seven of the eight players on the rotation are averaging at least 4.9 points per game.
• Katz has used the same starting lineup in 18 of 20 games thus far, consisting of Garrity and McKinney at guard, Demps at swingman, Hornsby at forward, and Stuteville at center. That lineup has produced an 14-4 record this year.

WINNING STREAKS

• Sacramento State has three winning streaks of at least four games this year.
• A win on Saturday would increase the Hornets' current winning streak to six games, which would tie for the seventh longest streak in school history (1948-pres.).
• Here is a look at the longest winning streaks in school history:  
12 - 1969-70;  11 - 1952-53;  8 - Three teams;  7 - 1975-76;  6 - Seven teams. The most recent team to win six straight was the 1987-88 squad.

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 ON THE SAME SQUAD

• Earlier this season, senior guards Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney became the 12th and 13th players, respectively, in school history to score 1,000 career points.
• The two are currently within seven points of each other as Garrity is seventh in school history with 1,224 points and McKinney is eighth with 1,217 points.
• 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 SETS PROGRAM RECORD FOR CAREER ASSISTS

• With 504 career assists, senior guard Dylan Garrity is Sacramento State' new all-time leader, surpassing the previous mark of 501, set by DaShawn Freeman (2002-06).
• In addition, Garrity is just two assists shy of moving into sixth place in Big Sky history.
• Garrity, who has become more of a scorer than a distributor during his career, had 193 assists as a freshman, 143 as a sophomore, 107 as a junior, and 61 this season.
• Garrity has become a long range marksman, currently shooting better than 40 percent from distance for the third straight season.
• Among players averaging at least 2.5 made 3-pointers per game, Garrity's current season percentage of .446 ranks as the 16th best percentage in the nation.
• His career 3-point percentage of .429 is the third best mark in school history.
• He has raised his scoring average every year of his career, from 8.1 ppg as a freshman, to 11.6 ppg, 13.2 ppg, and currently 13.9 ppg this year.

McKINNEY PUTTING TOGETHER A HUGE YEAR

• Including his game winner at North Dakota and 27-point second halves in wins over Idaho and Weber State, senior guard Mikh McKinney has been incredible this season.
• He became the first player in school history to be named to the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Watch List. He is one of two players from the Big Sky (Tyler Harvey).
• He is averaging 19.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game while shooting .540 (132-248) from the field, .420 (34-81) from the 3-point line and .769 (60-78) from the free throw line. He is also a team-best +107 in plus/minus ratio.
• Amazingly, he ranks among the nation's top 50 players in nine different categories, including sixth in steals per game, 28th in points per game, 33rd in both assists per game and field goals made, and 42nd in field goal percentage.
• Perhaps the most impressive stat from his line is the field goal percentage (.540), which is the fourth best mark in the nation among guards.
• He ranks among the Big Sky's top three players in five categories, including first in steals, second in scoring, minutes and assists, and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.4).
• Has scored at least 11 points in 17 straight games, and in 18 of the 19 games he's appeared. McKinney has scored in double figures in 63 career games.
• Has started all 78 games in which he's played in a Sacramento State uniform.

DEMPS PLAYING AT A HIGH LEVEL IN CONFERENCE PLAY

• After averaging 7.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on .391 shooting in non-conference play, junior guard Cody Demps has ramped those numbers up to 11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists on .574 shooting in Big Sky play
• In league play, he ranks among the Big Sky's top seven players in three categories, including tied for second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5), sixth in field goal percentage, and seventh in free throw percentage. He is tied for 11th in assists per game (3.9).
• He has shot at least 50 percent from the field in eight of the nine league games.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Sophomore Nick Hornsby has pulled at least seven rebounds in six of the last eight games, and is eighth in the Big Sky with a  team-high 6.4 rpg in league play.
• Junior guard Dreon Barlett is shooting .500 (14-28) from distance this season. If he had enough makes to qualify, his career .444 (36-81) 3-point percentage would rank third in school history.
• Centers Eric Stuteville (.623) and Alex Tiffin (.548) are combining to shoot .595 (50-84) thus far in Big Sky play.
• Over his last four games, Stuteville is shooting .800 (16-20) from the field.
• In league play, five different Hornet regulars are shooting at least .540 from the field.