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LATE RUN GIVES MEN’S BASKETBALL A 66-63 UPSET WIN AT ARIZONA STATE

LATE RUN GIVES MEN’S BASKETBALL A 66-63 UPSET WIN AT ARIZONA STATE

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Sacramento State went on a 19-8 run over the game's final six minutes, sparked by senior Cody Demps' eight points during the final 1:54, as the Hornets knocked off Arizona State, 66-63, in the season opener for both teams.

The win not only spoiled the head coaching debut of Bobby Hurley at Arizona State, but it also gave Sacramento State its third win over a Pac-12 Conference opponent in six years. Each of those victories came with reigning National Mid-Major Coach of the Year Brian Katz at the helm, including wins at Oregon State (2009) and Utah (2012).

In a game where neither team led by more than 10 points, and both squads held leads for over 10 minutes of game clock, it was Sacramento State that made late, clutch shots to shock a crowd of 5,275 spectators.

With the Hornets trailing, 55-47, and 6:42 to play, Sacramento State, which has two fourth-year seniors and three third-year juniors on the roster, began its decisive run. The spurt spanned the final 5:58 of the contest and saw four different Hornets score, including Demps (11), Marcus Graves (5), Eric Stuteville (2) and Nick Hornsby (1).

In fact, it was those four players who combined to score 58 of the Hornets' 66 points as Demps matched his career high with 22 points, Graves easily set his career high with 20 points, and both Hornsby and Stuteville had eight points. Graves never scored more than eight points or played more than 16 minutes during his freshman season of 2014-15, but the sophomore came up large tonight, posting five rebounds and five assists in a game-high 39 minutes. That included shooting 8-of-15 shooting from the field and a pair of 3-pointers.

"We didn't quit," Katz said. "We got down eight or nine points in the second half, they came roaring out. Give them credit, they played well and Coach Hurley made some nice adjustments. They took it right at us. I just liked the fact our guys stayed the course and didn't give in."

After free throws from Hornsby and Demps, and an 18-foot jumper from Stuteville got the Hornets back within, 55-51, with 5:48 to play, it was an Arizona State free throw followed by a Graves 3-pointer that had Sacramento State down just two points (56-54) with 3:56 left. Stuteville had two blocked shots on ASU's next possession, the Hornets eventually took back the ball and Demps' subsequent jumper tied the game at 56-56.

The lead would exchange hands three more times as an Arizona State jumper would be followed by a Demps' 3-pointer with 1:54 to play. The Sun Devils would take their last lead of the game on an Eric Jacobsen layup with 1:41 left, before Demps buried his second 3-pointer in a 30-second span to give the Hornets the lead for good at 62-60 with 1:28 remaining.

Sacramento State would later add a jumper from Graves (0:51) and two huge free throws from Demps (0:24). Arizona State's Gerry Blakes attempted a well-contested 3-pointer late, but the shot bounced off the rim and Graves pulled down the rebound as time expired.

The Hornets converted each of their final five field goal attempts and both free throw attempts in a clutch performance that saw Sacramento State outrebound Arizona State, 41-34. The win was a nice way to start the season as the program is coming off a record-breaking 2014-15 campaign that saw the team go 21-12 overall and 13-5 in the Big Sky Conference.

Sacramento State took its largest lead of the game came at 29-21 with 54 seconds remaining in the first half. However, Arizona State would go on a 27-9 run spanning 8:49 of both halves to take its largest lead of the game at 48-38 with 11:37 left. The Sun Devils would score just 15 points the rest of the way.

Sacramento State finished the game shooting .464 (26-56) from the field, .353 (6-17) from the 3-point line and .571 (8-14) from the free throw line. Of the Hornets' 41 rebounds, 11 came on the offensive glass, and Sacramento State outscored the Sun Devils in points off turnovers (18-13) and fast break points (6-0). Arizona State, which attempted 13 more free throws, finished the game shooting .418 (23-55) from the field, and just 2-for-17 from distance.

The guard combination of Demps (22 points, 8-of-15 shooting) and Graves (20 points, 8-of-15 shooting) was on display all evening as the two combined to play 77 minutes. Demps had 14 of his points in the second half while Graves poured in 13 points after halftime. The two combined for 42 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

"We just tried to play off our guards," Katz said. "Going into the season, we felt our guards were going to be underrated, and I think they are (underrated). Marcus (Graves) didn't play much last year because he was backing up a four-year starter and a three-year starter on the greatest team in school history. Cody (Demps) was our starting three for three-and-a-half years. So to see the guards step up was really nice. But you have to play the whole season and this is just one game."

Hornsby had eight points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in 29 minutes before fouling out with 5:05 to play. Stuteville had eight points, three rebounds and a game-high three blocked shots. All three of those blocks came during the last four minutes of the contest while playing with four fouls. Justin Strings had five points and five rebounds and Dreon Barlett had three points and three rebounds. The Hornets used 10 players in the game, including nine minutes from true freshman Jeff Wu.

For Arizona State, four players scored in double figures, comprised of Tra Holder (17 points, five assists), Blakes (13 points, three steals), Jacobsen (12 points) and Willie Atwood (11 points, 11 rebounds).

"This win gives our guys some confidence," Katz said. "But we have to play Seattle on Sunday and we're leaving first thing in the morning. That's not going to be an easy game."

The Hornets will take on Seattle on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. Sacramento State then opens a season-long four-game homestand that includes contests against Holy Names (Nov. 20), UC Davis (Nov. 24), South Dakota (Nov. 28) and Pacific (Nov. 29).