FIRST PLACE ON THE LINE IN MEN'S HOOPS GAME THURS. AT EASTERN WASHINGTON

FIRST PLACE ON THE LINE IN MEN'S HOOPS GAME THURS. AT EASTERN WASHINGTON

Sacramento State Game Notes (pdf)
Eastern Washington Game Notes (pdf)
Big Sky Conference standings

GAME PREVIEW

• Winners of seven straight games, the longest winning streak in nearly 40 years, Sacramento State (16-6, 10-1) travels to Cheney for a first-place showdown with Eastern Washington (18-5, 9-1) on Thursday at 6:05 p.m.
• In what could be billed as the biggest road game in many years for the Hornets, the winner of Thursday's game will sit all alone in first place in the Big Sky standings.
• Sacramento State has already played in two games where the winner sits all alone in first place, and came through with home wins over Eastern Washington and Montana.
• Something has got to give as the Hornets have won seven straight and 11 of their last 12, while Eastern Washington has won five straight and 10 of its last 11 games.
• The Hornets' 16-6 overall record is the program's best since the 1987-88 squad was 17-5, and the third best after 22 games in program history (1948-pres.).
• The 10-1 Big Sky record is easily 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.
• Sacramento State has assured itself of the program's first winning season in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and the 16 victories are the high water mark for wins in the Div. I era.
• The Hornets' seven-game winning streak is tied for the sixth longest in school history, and the longest in nearly 40 years (the 1975-76 squad won seven straight).
• The Hornets are currently ranked a school-record 14th in the nation in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major top 25 poll while Eastern Washington is ranked 12th.
• Should the Hornets win on Thursday, the potential eight-game winning streak would tie for the third longest in program history, and longest since the 1970-71 season.
• A win Thursday would allow the Hornets to take a 1.5 game lead in the standings, and own the tiebreaker over EWU should both teams finish the regular season tied for first place. The winner of the regular season title hosts the Big Sky Tournament (Mar. 12-14).
• A victory on Thursday would give the Hornets a 17-6 record, which would tie for the second best mark after 23 games in program history.
• What makes the Eagles' current five-game winning streak so impressive is four of those wins came when either their leading scorer (Tyler Harvey) or second leading scorer (Venky Jois) did not play because of injury.
• Harvey, the nation's leading scorer at 23.4 ppg, missed the last two games (road wins at Montana and Montana State) with a quad contusion.
• Eastern Washington is 11-0 at home this year, and 5-0 against Big Sky teams.
• The Hornets (8th, .493) and Eagles (13th, .488) both rank among the top 15 teams in the nation in field goal percentage. And both teams rank among the top five in 3-point field goal percentage - Hornets are 3rd at .417; Eagles are 5th at .415.
• Hornet head coach Brian Katz is 5-2 against Eagle head coach Jim Hayford.
• Eastern Washington is 27-14 all-time against the Hornets, including 17-3 in Cheney. However, two of those three Hornet wins in Cheney have come in the last three years.

A LOOK AT THE TWO TEAMS LAST MEETING

• Sacramento State shot a Div. I-era single-game high .633 (31-49) from the field in the Hornets' 90-77 victory over Eastern Washington at the Nest on Jan. 17.
• The Hornets led the final 17:47 of the game, and outscored the Eagles, 49-36, in the second stanza after the game had been tied at halftime, 41-41.
• The Hornets scored on six of their final seven possessions to help put the game away.
Cody Demps finished with a career-high 22 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Mikh McKinney had 14 points and a career-high 12 assists to go along with six steals in 39 minutes. Box score on page 10 of the notes.

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 PROFICIENT SHOOTING TEAM FROM EVERYWHERE

• Sacramento State is one of just three teams in the nation to rank among the top 10 squads in both field goal percentage (8th, .493) and 3-point percentage (3rd, .417).
• In addition, the team is 32nd in the nation in free throw percentage (.734).
• 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.
• Of the Hornets' top eight scorers, four are shooting better than .510 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).

ROAD WOES NO LONGER

• While a 5-5 record on the road is hardly anything to brag about, its a pretty big deal at Sacramento State, where road wins have been hard to come by in the Div. I era.
• Amazingly, five road wins are already the third best mark since the Hornets joined the Div. I ranks in 1991-92 (the 2005-06 squad had seven; 2002-03 had six).
• The Hornets enter the EWU game as winners of four of their last five road games.
• The Hornets entered the season with, brace yourself, a 41-282 road record (.127 winning percentage) since joining the Div. I ranks.
• That included a 39-game road losing streak which stretched from Dec. 30, 2006, until it was snapped with a 65-63 win at Oregon State on Nov. 21, 2009.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES

• The Hornets are 5-0 in games decided by three points or less, 7-1 in games decided by five points or less, and 9-1 in games decided by single digits.
• Of the Hornets' 10 conference wins, seven have come by seven points or less.
• The Hornets are 10-1 in league despite outscoring the opposition by an average of just 5.2 points per contest.

LEAN YEARS NOW IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR

• To put the Hornets' 16-6 and 10-1 records into context, one has to understand how far this program has come this season after some dubious years in the Div. I era.
• Since joining the Div. I ranks prior to the 1991-92 season, the Hornets had never finished with an overall record above .500 until Saturday's win against Portland State assured the Hornets of their first Div. I winning season.
• Prior to this season, Sacramento State's overall record in the Div. I era was 189-475 (.269 winning percentage), and 86-211 (.266) in Big Sky Conference play.
• At one point, the Hornets lost 34 straight games, which lasted from Dec. 22, 1997 until the streak was snapped with a 60-57 home win against Montana on Jan. 27, 1999.

WINNING STREAKS

• A win on Thursday would increase the Hornets' current winning streak to eight games, which would tie for the third 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 - 2014-15, 1975-76;  6 - Seven teams. The most recent team to win eight straight was the 1970-71 squad.

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 make up the team's top eight scorers.
• Katz has used the same starting lineup in 20 of 22 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 16-4 record this year.

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.

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 two points of each other as McKinney is sixth in school history with 1,252 points and Garrity is seventh with 1,250 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 509 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 now sixth in Big Sky history in that category.
• 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 66 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 13th best percentage in the nation.
• His career 3-point percentage of .429 (199-464) is the 3rd 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 13.8 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 has won Big Sky Player of the Week honors four times this season.
• He is averaging 18.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.9 steals per game while shooting .541 (146-270) from the field, .422 (38-90) from the 3-point line and .761 (67-88) from the free throw line. He is also a team-best +116 in plus/minus ratio.
• Amazingly, he ranks among the nation's top 50 players in eight different categories, including fifth in steals per game, 31st in points per game, 35th in assists per game, 40th in field goals made, and 43rd in field goal percentage.
• Perhaps the most impressive stat from his line is the field goal percentage (.541), which is the third best mark in the nation among guards.
• He ranks among the Big Sky's top three players in five categories; first in steals, second in scoring, minutes and assists, and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.3).
• Has scored at least 11 points in 19 straight games, and in 20 of the 21 games he's appeared. McKinney has scored in double figures in 65 career games.
• Has started all 80 games in which he's played in a Sacramento State uniform.

DEMPS PLAYING AT A HIGH LEVEL IN CONFERENCE PLAY

• Though guards Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity get a lot of pub, opponents can't overlook the third part of the Hornets' three-guard monster in junior Cody Demps.
• After averaging 7.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on .391 shooting in non-conference play, Demps has ramped those numbers up to 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists on .575 shooting (46-80) in Big Sky play.
• In league play, he ranks among the Big Sky's top nine players in four categories, including 6th in free throw percentage (.829), 7th in field goal percentage (.575), and 9th in both assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.0) and minutes per game (33.8).
• He has shot at least 50 percent from the field in nine of the 11 league games.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Over his last six games, center Eric Stuteville is shooting .724 (21-29) from the field, and now ranks third in the Big Sky in field goal percentage and fifth in blocked shots per game (1.5) vs. conference competition.
• Forward Nick Hornsby has combined for seven steals in the last two games, including four vs. Montana. That included a huge steal with 31 seconds remaining vs. the Grizzlies.
• The team's 7-game winning streak is tied for the 7th longest active streak in Div. I.