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MEN'S BASKETBALL LOOKS FOR SEASON SWEEP OF UC DAVIS ON WEDNESDAY

MEN'S BASKETBALL LOOKS FOR SEASON SWEEP OF UC DAVIS ON WEDNESDAY

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

GAME PREVIEW

• Sacramento State (5-1) and UC Davis (3-2) will play for the second time in eight days, and the 114th time in a long-standing rivalry on Wednesday night at The Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.
• The Hornets defeated the Aggies on Tuesday, Nov. 24, at the Nest by an 84-79 score in a game that featured eight ties and 11 lead changes.
• This year marks the first time the rivals have played each other twice in the same year since the 1991-92 season (the teams split that series). The Hornets are seeking their first season sweep of the Aggies since the 1988-89 team beat UC Davis twice.
• On Wednesday, fans are encouraged to bring an unwrapped new toy to The Pavilion as part of UC Davis' holiday toy drive. Anyone donating a toy will have an opportunity to win Sierra-at-Tahoe lift tickets. Fans can donate as many items as they wish.
• The Hornets defeated Pacific on Sunday, 79-71, and have now defeated the two closest Div. I schools in proximity to Sacramento this year.
• Sacramento State's 5-1 record is tied for the best start to a season in school history (1948-pres.) as only six previous Hornet squads have accomplished the feat.
• Only the 1985-86 team has started the season with a 6-1 record.
• Sacramento State has scored at least 79 points in four straight games for the first time in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and first time since the 1990-91 season.
• Since becoming Hornet head coach in 2008, Brian Katz is 5-2 vs. UC Davis, including a 3-0 mark when playing the Aggies in Davis.
• Overall, Sacramento State is 66-47 all-time against UC Davis, and the 113 meetings with the Aggies marks the longest standing rivalry for the Hornets against any team.
• The last meeting at The Pavilion came on Nov. 26, 2013, a 73-67 Hornet win in which Mikh McKinney scored a game-high 25 points.
• Wednesday's game will mark the Hornets' fourth in a span of eight days, including wins vs. UC Davis (Nov. 24) and Pacific (Nov. 29), and a loss to South Dakota (Nov. 28).
• Sacramento State just wrapped up a 3-1 homestand, and will play six of its next eight games on the road. That includes just two home games during the month of December.
• The Aggies are 3-2 after an 82-70 road win at Utah Valley on Saturday. UC Davis is 2-1 at home, but has not played at The Pavilion since beating Fresno Pacific on Nov. 18.

RADIO/VIDEO STREAM/LIVE STATS

• A free video stream of Wednesday's game will be provided at www.bigwest.org/tv.
• 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 venue will be streamed free on www.WatchBigSky.com.
• Like every game this year, Wednesday's game 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.

NOTABLES ON THE HORNETS-AGGIES, PART I

• Five Hornets scored in double digits, led by Cody Demps' game-high 22 points, as Sacramento State beat UC Davis, 84-79, in the teams' first meeting on Nov. 24 at the Nest.
• Sixteen of Demps' career-high tying 22 points came in the second half, as the senior buried seven free throws in the final two minutes to help the Hornets preserve the lead.
• In fact, Sacramento State, which entered the game shooting just .571 from the free throw line, went 9-of-12 from the charity stripe over the final 1:47.
• In a highly entertaining game that featured eight ties and 11 lead changes, the Hornets led the final 3:55 and scored on six of their final eight possessions of the game.
• UC Davis could have tied the game late with a 3-pointer, but Marcus Graves came up with a steal on the Aggies' Darius Graham with six seconds to go, and Graves buried two subsequent free throws to put the game away.
• The Hornets' largest lead of the game was 10 points (38-28) at the 3:18 mark of the first half, but the Aggies immediately responded by going on a 20-2 run.
• By the time Nolan Berry buried a 3-pointer with 16:41 left in the game, UC Davis held its largest lead at 48-40. However, the Hornets chipped away at the lead and eventually tied the game on a Jiday Ugbaja jumper (52-52) with 11:31 remaining.
• Neither team led by more than five points the rest of the way, as the Hornets held five-point advantages at the 0:48 and 0:32 second marks of the contest.

OFFENSE LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD

• After averaging 71.5 points through the first two games of the season, the Hornet offense has scored at least 79 points in four straight games, the longest stretch with at least 79 points in the Div. I era (1991-pres.).
• During that four-game stretch, the Hornets are averaging 87.2 points on .514 (125-243) shooting from the field, .432 (35-81) from distance and .727 (64-88) from the charity stripe.
• Four players are averaging at least 11 points during the stretch, comprised of Cody Demps (18.3 ppg), Justin Strings (13.3), Marcus Graves (12.8) and Eric Stuteville (11.0).
• Overall, the Hornets, who were expected to feature more of a grind it out type offense, are second in the Big Sky with an average of 82.0 points per game.
• Since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991, the Hornets have never averaged more than 75.8 points per game in a single season.

HORNETS WIN DESPITE THREE LARGE 2ND HALF DEFICITS

• Of Sacramento State's five wins this season, three have come despite the Hornets trailing by eight points or more in the second half.
• That includes a 10-point deficit at Arizona State (11:37 to play), nine points at Seattle (15:16 to play), and eight points vs. UC Davis (16:41 to play).

BEING SMART WITH THE BALL

• Sacramento State is currently first in the Big Sky in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.5) and second in turnover margin (+2.2). The Hornets have committed 12 turnovers or less in three straight games, including six against UC Davis.
• The Hornets are averaging a league-best 19.0 assists per game (15th best in the nation), and currently have two of the top three assist players in the Big Sky in guards Cody Demps (1st; 6.2 apg) and Marcus Graves (3rd; 5.8 apg).

PRODUCTION FROM THE BENCH

• Sacramento State has gotten nice production from the bench this season, as reserves are averaging 24.8 points per game.
• Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz has primarily used a rotation of 10 players, the most depth for the program in recent memory.
• Leading the way has been sixth-man Justin Strings who is third on the team averaging 11.8 points on .644 shooting (29-45) from the field.
• Sacramento State has received at least 28 points from its bench in three of the six games thus far, including 35 points at Seattle and 28 vs. South Dakota.

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.

IMPROVEMENT EVERY YEAR UNDER COACH KATZ

• Sacramento State has improved its conference record every year since head coach Brian Katz took over the program in 2008-09, including last year's 13-5 mark.
• Last year, Coach Katz was named as CollegeInsider.com's National Mid-Major Coach of the Year, District 6 Coach of the Year and Big Sky Conference co-Coach of the Year.
• 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.

DEFENDING THE 3-POINT LINE

• Sacramento State leads the Big Sky at defending the 3-point line, limiting the opposition to just .283 (39-138) from distance. The Hornets have held opponents to .250 shooting or less in four of the six games. Sacramento State is 5-0 when limiting the opposition to .409 shooting or less from distance (UC Davis shot .409).

WHO IS THIS GUY?

• Sophomore Marcus Graves, who received Big Sky Player of the Week and National Mid-Major Player of the Week honors during the first week, is averaging 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.8 steals, has a 2.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
• While the Hornet coaching staff and teammates have not been surprised by that output, many observers have been....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, who has scored 13 points or better in all but one game, had eight steals in the win over Pacific, tying for the second-best single-game mark in school history.
• Graves, who played behind Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity last year, is now ninth in the nation with his average of 2.8 steals per game.

HORNETS RETURN 10 PLAYERS, INCLUDING 3 STARTERS

• Though the Hornets lost two of the best players in program history in guards Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity, the Hornets still return 10 players from last season, including three starters in guard Cody Demps, center Eric Stuteville and forward Nick Hornsby.
• Entering the season, all 10 returners had 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 just 10th in the coaches poll.

CHECKING THE PLUS/MINUS RATIO

• The plus/minus ratio, a statistic that has picked up steam in basketball circles over the last few years, measures how a team has fared when a certain player is on the court.
• All 12 active members of the Hornet roster currently have a positive plus/minus ratio.
• The top Hornets in terms of plus/minus this season are Nick Hornsby (+48), Justin Strings (+41), Marcus Graves (+37), Jeff Wu (+37) and Jiday Ugbaja (+36). So, the Hornets have outscored the opposition by a team-high 48 points when Hornsby is on the floor.
• In nearly 174 minutes played, Sacramento State is outscoring opponents by a 367-319 margin when Hornsby is in the game.

INSIDE OR OUTSIDE, STRINGS HITS SHOTS

• 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.
• Currently the team's sixth man, Strings is third on the team with 11.8 points per game while also pulling 5.0 boards per contest.
• He is shooting .644 (29-45) from the field, the fourth best mark in the Big Sky.
• Strings creates matchup problems as the 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward can score underneath and on the perimeter as his .421 (8-21) 3-point field goal percentage attests.
• He has scored at least 13 points four times, including 14 against UC Davis.

DEMPS STUFFING THE STAT SHEET

• Fourth-year senior and team co-captain Cody Demps has produced an impressive stat line of 16.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting .453 (34-75) from the field, .438 (7-16) from 3-point line and .667 (22-33) from the FT line.
• The best defender on the team, Demps has played four positions during his career with the Hornets, and has received the majority of this year's minutes at point guard.
• The quiet leader has started 69 straight games dating back to his sophomore season.
• Demps ranks among the Big Sky's top 12 players in eight different categories, including first in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.5), and eighth in scoring.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Junior Nick Hornsby has at least eight points and seven rebounds in all but one game.
• Eric Stuteville is averaging 11.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg on .667 FG% over the last four games.
• Freshman Jeff Wu is the first men's hoops player from Taiwan to receive a Div. I scholarship.
• Fourth-year senior Dreon Barlett, who has played in 75 straight games, is 10-for-17 from 3-point land over the last three games. For his career, he is shooting .450 (54-120) from distance, the third best mark in program history (among players with 50 makes).
• 6-foot-11 forward Mason Stuteville has buried five of his last nine 3-point attempts.