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HOME OPENER FOR MEN'S HOOPS THIS FRIDAY VS. HOLY NAMES AT 7 PM

HOME OPENER FOR MEN'S HOOPS THIS FRIDAY VS. HOLY NAMES AT 7 PM

Sacramento State Game Notes (24 pages) - pdf
Big Sky Conference standings

GAME PREVIEW

• After road wins at Arizona State and Seattle, Sacramento State (2-0) will play its home opener this Friday against Holy Names inside the Nest at 7:05 p.m.
• Holy Names (1-2) is a Div. II school from Oakland, Calif., and is a member of the PacWest Conference.
• Friday night is Ernest Tschannen Appreciation Day as the philanthropist who donated $750,000 to the Power of 1,000 Hornets campaign will be honored at halftime.
• The Hornets are seeking just their third 3-0 start to the season in the school history (1948-pres.). Both of the previous 3-0 starts have come during the Div. I era (1991-pres.) in the 2012-13 and 1999-00 seasons. The best start to a season in school history was 4-0 when the 1999-00 squad accomplished that feat.
• The Hornets will look forward to a homecourt advantage that saw the team go 13-2 inside the Nest last season, tying for the most single-season home wins in program history.
• The Hornets are 15-9 in home openers during the Div. I era, and have won four straight, and 14 of the last 16 home openers.
• Friday is also the first of a season-long four-game homestand that will see the Hornets play UC Davis (Nov. 24), South Dakota (Nov. 28) and Pacific (Nov. 29).
• Sacramento State and Holy Names have never played during the regular season, but the two teams faced each other in an exhibition game on Nov. 4, 2014. Behind a game-high 14 points from Eric Stuteville, the Hornets beat the Hawks, 68-45 (box on pg. 10).
• Holy Names is 1-2 after an 81-73 home loss to Sonoma State on Tuesday night.
• Sacramento State is currently one spot out of the Mid-Major Top 25 poll, and is receiving the most votes of any team currently not in the top 25.
• The Hornets are coming off a season in which the team went 21-12 overall and 13-5 in the Big Sky while securing its first overall record above .500, first postseason appearance in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and first postseason win in 53 years.
• The Hornets return 10 players from last season's team, including three starters in senior guard Cody Demps, junior center Eric Stuteville and junior forward Nick Hornsby. Demps and Hornsby are team co-captains.

RADIO/VIDEO STREAM/LIVE STATS

• Beginning on Friday, free HD video streams will be provided for every home game this season via www.WatchBigSky.com. In addition, all road games played in a Big Sky Conference venue will be streamed free.
• Every game this year will be broadcast live on KTKZ 1380 AM The Answer with 19th-year play-by-play man Steve McElroy calling all the action.
• Fans outside the Sacramento area can listen to every game via www.hornetsports.com.
• Links for all multimedia options, including live stats, can be found next to each game on the men's basketball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.

RECAP OF THE SEATTLE VICTORY

Marcus Graves scored 21 of his game-high 24 points during a 51-30 run over the final 15:09 as Sacramento State defeated Seattle, 77-65, on Sunday afternoon at KeyArena.
• The Hornets had failed to win three times previously in Seattle (2014, 2010, 1968), but snapped that streak with Sunday's victory.
• The Hornets shot just 31 percent in the first half, and found themselves down nine points (35-26) after a William Powell bucket with 15:16 left in the game.
• Sacramento State, however, scored on six of its next eight possessions, which included a pair of 3-pointers from both Jeff Wu and Graves.
• By the time Graves striped his second 3-ball of the run, the Hornets held a 42-39 advantage with 11:36 left. Sacramento State would never trail again, as the team had at least a five-point advantage the final 8:04 of the contest.
• Rather than slowing the tempo late in the game to preserve the lead, the Hornets continued to put the pressure on, resulting in four lay-ups during the final 4:27 of the contest.
• After a rough shooting start to the game, the Hornets shot .531 (17-32) in the second half while outscoring the Redhawks, 52-38, after halftime.
• The Hornets finished the game shooting .422 (27-64) from the field, .310 (9-29) from the 3-point line and just .519 (14-27) from the free throw line.
• Although Sacramento State was outrebounded, 54-40, the Hornets limited the Redhawks to .353 shooting (24-68) from the field, and just 4-for-27 from the 3-point line.

HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE

• Sacramento State went 13-2 at home last season, including a nine-game home winning streak. They were the lone team in the Big Sky to go undefeated at home in league play (9-0).
• Dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Sacramento State is 34-9 (.791 winning percentage) at the Nest. Each of the final six home games of last season were sold out.
• Dating back to the 2013-14 season, the Hornets have won a school-record 10 straight home games vs. the Big Sky. Overall, the Hornets have won 21 of their last 24 home games.
• Sacramento State has won 28 straight games at home against a non-Div. I program. That streak dates back to the 1999-00 season.

PAC-12 CONFERENCE SLAYERS

• With the win at Arizona State, Sacramento State has now defeated a Pac-12 Conference team three times in the last six years, including victories at Oregon State (2009) and Utah (2012). Each of those wins have come during head coach Brian Katz's tenure with the team.
• The Hornets are still just 4-36 all-time against the Pac-12's current affiliates, but are now 3-5 against the league since 2009.

WHO IS THIS GUY?

• Sophomore Marcus Graves was named the Big Sky Player of the Week, and was the recipient of National Mid-Major Player of the Week honors by two media outlets after averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 39.0 minutes per game last week.
• While the Hornet coaching staff and teammates were not surprised by that output, many observers were shocked as Graves averaged just 1.2 points, 0.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 5.3 minutes in 13 games last year as a true freshman.
• Graves dropped 20 points at Arizona State, and added 24 more points at Seattle.
• In fact, Graves already has more points, rebounds, assists and minutes than all of last year.
• The reason for last year's lack of playing time is he played behind a four-year starter (Dylan Garrity) and three-year starter (Mikh McKinney) at the guard spots.

COMING OFF A RECORD-BREAKING SEASON

• Sacramento State finished the 2014-15 season with a 21-12 overall record and a 13-5 mark in the Big Sky Conference. Prior to last season, the Hornets had never finished with an overall record above .500 since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92.
• The 21 victories were tied for the second most in program history (1948-pres.), and the 13 conference wins were the most in school history (regardless of conference). All of this from a program that had just three winning seasons the previous 38 years.
• The Hornets advanced to the postseason for the first time in the Div. I era, and won at Portland in the first round of the CIT, the program's first postseason win in 53 years.

COACH KATZ THE REIGNING MID-MAJOR COACH OF THE YEAR

• Head coach Brian Katz was named by CollegeInsider.com as the 2015 National Mid-Major Coach of the Year after having already received District 6 Coach of the Year and Big Sky co-Coach of the Year honors.
• He became the first men's hoops coach in school history to win those awards.
• A graduate of Sacramento State, Coach Katz recently signed a contract extension that will keep him at the helm of the program through at least the 2019-20 season.

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, 10-10 in 2013-14, and finally 13-5 last season.

PERIMETER DEFENSE

• Amazingly, the Hornets' two opponents this year have combined to shoot just 6-for-44 (.136) from the 3-point line. That includes a current streak of 14 straight misses.
• Arizona State shot just .118 (2-for-17) from distance, and Seattle wasn't much better, hoisting from distance at a .148 clip (4-for-27).

HORNETS RETURN 10 PLAYERS, INCLUDING 3 STARTERS

• The Hornets return 10 players from last season's team, including three starters in senior guard Cody Demps, junior center Eric Stuteville and junior forward Nick Hornsby.
• Each of those three players started at least 30 games last season, and ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, on the team in scoring.
• All 10 returners have at least one year of playing experience in a Sacramento State uniform, including a pair of fourth-year seniors (Demps, guard Dreon Barlett) and three third-year juniors (Hornsby, Stuteville, guard Trevis Jackson).
• The Hornets were selected to finish in a tie for fourth out of 12 teams in the Big Sky preseason media poll, but were selected 10th in the coaches poll.

FREE THROW PERCENTAGE NEEDS TO GET BETTER

• Last year's Hornet squad shot its free throws at a .736 clip, 36th best in the nation.
• Though still very early, this year's edition of the Hornets has struggled from the charity stripe, shooting freebies at just .537 (22-for-41).
• Sacramento State has shot below 58 percent from the line in both games thus far, and outside of Trevis Jackson (.750, 3-for-4), no one on the team is shooting better than .600.
• Of the seven Hornets with at least two free throw attempts, five are shooting their freebies at .500 or below.

STRINGS MAKING MOST OF INCREASED PLAYING TIME

• Like Marcus Graves, sophomore forward Justin Strings did not play much last year, but has taken full advantage of his increased playing time this season.
• Strings is averaging 9.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 27.5 minutes per game after averaging just 0.8 points, 0.7 rebounds and 4.2 minutes last season.
• Strings' 13 points, six rebounds and 29 minutes at Seattle were all career bests, and marked the first game of his career he scored in double figures.
• Strings (6-foot-7, 235 pounds), who grew an inch and added 25 pounds in one year, has shown the ability to score on the inside and on the perimeter.

DEMPS STILL DOING IT ALL

• Fourth-year senior Cody Demps, who has started 65 straight games dating back to his sophomore season, was anointed a team co-captain this year.
• The best defender on the team, Demps, who can play four positions, is currently averaging 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 30.5 minutes per game.
• The quiet leader averaged 9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 33.5 minutes last year when he was the team's third leading scorer.
• Demps, who is one of the most underrated players in the Big Sky Conference, has been playing minutes at the point this year after spending the last couple years as a swingman.

STAT SHEET STUFFING HORNSBY

• Junior Nick Hornsby, who can play three positions (2, 3 and 4), is currently averaging 8.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 blocked shot and 1.0 steal in 30.5 minutes per game while shooting .500 (7-14) from the field.
• He has tallied at least eight points and seven rebounds in both games thus far, including nine points and nine rebounds in Sunday's win at Seattle.
• Has started 32 of the last 35 games, and has 34 steals over the previous15 games dating back to last year. Hornsby has added 30 pound of muscle since his freshman season.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Freshman guard Jeff Wu, the first men's basketball player from Taiwan to receive a Div. I scholarship, broke out with 14 points (three 3-pointers) in 20 minutes at Seattle.
• Fourth-year senior Dreon Barlett has played in 71 straight games, but last week marked the first two starts of his career.
• Sophomore guard Jiday Ugbaja posted career highs in points (5), assists (4) and minutes (12) in the win at Seattle. He helped spark the Hornets' second half rally with two offensive rebounds in back-to-back possessions resulting in five second-chance points.
• Sacramento State's bench has outscored the opposition, 40-24, through two games.
• The Hornets have allowed just six fast-break points this year, and are averaging 14.5 points per game off opponent turnovers.