MEN'S BASKETBALL TRAVELS TO WEBER STATE FOR THURSDAY NIGHT GAME

MEN'S BASKETBALL TRAVELS TO WEBER STATE FOR THURSDAY NIGHT GAME

Sacramento State Game Notes (pdf)
Big Sky Conference standings

GAME PREVIEW

• With just eight games remaining in the regular season, Sacramento State (10-11, 3-7) will hit the road for two games this week, beginning on Thursday at Weber State (16-7, 8-2). Tip-off at the Dee Events Center is set for 6:05 p.m. PST.
• The Hornets are coming off a pair of home games that both went down to the wire, an 83-79 win over Montana, and a 79-76 loss to Montana State.
• Sacramento State is 3-7 on the road this year, including 1-4 against Big Sky foes. The Hornets split their last road trip, defeating Idaho, 65-63, and falling to Eastern Washington, 74-67.
• Sacramento State has been without the services of team co-captain and fourth-year senior point guard Cody Demps each of the last nine games because of injury.
• The Hornets have played without a starter due to injury in 11 of the last 12 games, and the team is 3-8 during that 11-game stretch.
• The Hornets have won three straight Thursday games, including home wins over Idaho State and Montana, and the road win at Idaho. Overall, the team is 3-1 on Thursday.
• This comes in stark contrast to the Hornets' 0-8 record on Saturday.
• Sacramento State sits in 10th place in the 12-member league, and the third through the 10th place squads all sit within 3.5 games of each other.
• A sophomore (Justin Strings, Marcus Graves or Jiday Ugbaja) has led the Hornets in scoring each of the last six games.
• Weber State defeated Sacramento State earlier this season at the Nest, 84-75, despite  Hornet sophomores Strings and Graves both scoring 23 points.
• In a series which dates back to 1969, Weber State has ownership over Sacramento State, posting a 37-6 all-time record against the Hornets.
• The Dee Events Center, Weber's home floor, has been a house of horrors for the Hornets. Sacramento State is 2-20 on Weber's home floor, and last year's 78-71 victory for the Hornets snapped an eight-game losing streak in Ogden. In that game, Mikh McKinney scored 27 of his career-high 33 points in the second half.
• The Wildcats currently sit in second place in the league standings, a half game behind Montana (9-2). Weber State is 9-1 at home, including 5-0 against conference teams.

RADIO/VIDEO STREAM/LIVE STATS

• Free live video streams will be provided for every game the rest of the season via www.WatchBigSky.com. All home games will be streamed in HD.
• Thursday'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.
• Live stats will be available for every game the rest of the way. All multimedia links can be found next to each game on the men's basketball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.

RECAP OF THE LAST GAME VS. WEBER STATE

• Despite 23 points apiece from sophomores Justin Strings and Marcus Graves, the Hornets could not withstand a barrage of 3-pointers from Weber State in an 85-74 Wildcat victory at the Nest on Jan. 16.
• Weber State buried 11-of-22 (.500) attempts from the 3-point line while the Hornets went just 2-for-10 from distance. That proved to be the difference in the game as the Hornets converted one less field goal than the Wildcats while burying the same amount of free throws (18).
• Sacramento State was proficient from the field (.482), but Weber State knocked down 57 percent of its field goal opportunities (28-of-49), including the 11 triples.
• The Wildcats, who jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first two and a half minutes, led for 37:45 of game clock, and held at least a six-point advantage the entire second half.
• Sacramento State cut a 16-point deficit (71-55) with 6:36 left down to six points (76-70) on a Jeff Wu 3-pointer with 3:11 remaining, but the Wildcats went 7-for-9 from the free throw line over the final three minutes to put the game away.
• That snapped the Hornets' 11-game home winning streak in conference play.
• Perimeter defense was a problem for Sacramento State as Weber State consistently got good looks at 3-point attempts, many of which fell late in the shot clock.
• Six different Wildcats hit at least one 3-pointer, and four different players buried at least two triples. Weber State also got significant production from its bench (34 points).

INJURIES STINGING THE HORNETS

• Sacramento State has played 11 of the last 12 games without an injured starter, and the team has posted a 3-8 record during those 11 contests.
• The team has played all 10 conference games without an injured starter.
• Guard Dreon Barlett did not play at Stanford, forward Nick Hornsby did not suit up in the Big Sky opener at Portland State and guard Cody Demps has missed the last nine games with injury. Barlett and Hornsby returned to health, but Demps remains injured. Demps re-aggravated his lower body injury in the conference opener at Portland State (playing just eight minutes in that game), and has yet to return.

SATURDAY BLUES

• Sacramento State is 0-8 when playing on Saturdays this year, and is being outscored in those games by 10.0 points per contest.
• That includes home losses to Montana State (79-76), Portland State (81-63), Weber State (85-74) and South Dakota (96-90), and road losses at Portland (81-73), Portland State (76-68), Montana (77-58) and Eastern Washington (74-67).
• The Hornets' worst losses of the year were to Portland State (at home), Portland, Montana (road) and Weber State as the Hornets did not have any chance at winning those games late.

GOING SMALL

• The Hornets have decided to start a small lineup each of the last four games, taking 6-foot-11 center Eric Stuteville out of the starting lineup for the first time all year. The team is 2-2 during that four-game stretch.
• Stuteville was replaced in the starting unit with 5-foot-11 sophomore guard Jiday Ugbaja, who has made the first four collegiate starts of his career.
• The Hornets have started three guards (Ugbaja, Marcus Graves, Dreon Barlett) and two forwards (Justin Strings, Nick Hornsby) during the four-game stretch. None of the guards stand taller than 6-foot-3, and both forwards are 6-foot-7.
• Ugbaja is averaging 10.0 ppg in those four games, and Stuteville had a big game off the bench vs. Montana, finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds in 34 minutes.

SEVEN LOSSES THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT OUTCOMES

• In seven of the team's 11 losses, the Hornets trailed by three points or less, or held a lead during the final 3:30 of the contest. Here is the breakdown of those seven losses.
- 96-90 loss to South Dakota - led, 81-80, with 4:39 left/one possession game in last minute.
- 66-61 loss at UC Davis - tied, 61-61, with 1:12 left/one possession game in final minute.
- 70-60 loss at Stanford - tied, 56-56, with 5:10 remaining/trailed, 63-60, with 3:21 left.
- 76-68 loss at Portland State - led 55-53 with 4:30 remaining.
- 71-64 loss at Montana St. - led, 61-60, with 2:30 left/one possession game in last minute.
- 74-67 loss at Eastern Washington - trailed, 70-67, with 17 seconds remaining.
- 79-76 loss to Montana State - trailed, 77-76, with 3 seconds remaining.

TAKING CARE OF THE BALL BETTER OF LATE

• After a rash of turnovers to start the conference season, the Hornets have been much better of late, turning the ball over 11 times or less in each of the last four games.
• Through the first six league games, the Hornets averaged 13.5 turnovers per game and the opposition was averaging 17.5 points per contest off those miscues.
• Over the last four games, however, the team is averaging just 9.8 turnovers, and the opposition is averaging 11.0 points per contest off those miscues.

BLOCK PARTY

• Sacramento State's 4.4 blocked shots per game ranks first in the 12-team Big Sky.
• The Hornets have three players ranked among the top 15 in blocked shots, comprised of center Eric Stuteville (2nd; 2.0 bpg), and forwards Nick Hornsby (T-10th; 0.8 bpg) and Justin Strings (T-10th; 0.8 bpg).

SHOOTING PROFICIENCY

• Sacramento State is shooting a proficient .455 from the field this year, and has shot at least .400 from the floor in 12 straight games, the second longest streak in the league. Weber State has shot at least .400 in a Big Sky-best 14 consecutive games.

ITS PRONOUNCED JI-DAY YOU-BAW-JUH

• Get used to saying that name as sophomore guard Jiday Ugbaja has started four straight games and responded by averaging 10.0 points, 1.5 steals and 23.8 minutes over that four-game stretch.
• That included a breakout game against Montana when he posted career highs in points (18), free throws made (8) and attempted (10), and minutes (28).
• Ugbaja played in only five games last season, and had averaged just 1.9 points and 7.3 minutes through the first 17 games this year.

STRINGS BECOMES BIG SCORING THREAT

• Though just a sophomore, and a player that averaged only 0.8 points and 4.2 minutes last season, Justin Strings has made a dramatic jump in production.
• Strings, a 6-7, 235-pound forward who can play on the inside and the perimeter, has scored in double figures in 14 of the last 15 games and leads the team with scoring averages of 14.4 points overall, and 15.5 points in conference play.
• That 15.5 ppg in league play is the second best mark among all Big Sky sophomores.
• He has started each of the last 10 games, leads the team with 18 double-figure efforts, has a team-high tying three double-doubles and is shooting .500 from the field.
• He had scored in double figures in 12 straight games until that streak came to an end when he tallied eight points at Eastern Washington.

GRAVES....ANOTHER SOPHOMORE MAKING HIS MARK

• A similar story to Justin Strings is another sophomore in guard Marcus Graves, who went from playing sparingly last year to the team's second leading scorer.
• After averaging 1.2 points and 5.3 minutes last season, Graves is averaging 13.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.9 steals and 34.5 minutes this season.
• He has scored in double figures 15 times, including four games with at least 20 points.
• Graves had scored in double figures in six straight games and was averaging 17.2 points over that span, but that run came to an end when he had six points vs. Montana St.
• He ranks among the Big Sky's top five players in assist-to-turnover ratio (3rd; +2.0), minutes (4th), assists (4th) and steals (5th).

FIRST PLAYER FROM TAIWAN TO RECEIVE DIV. I SCHOLARSHIP

• Not only does guard Jeff Wu have the title of first men's basketball player from Taiwan to receive a Div. I athletic scholarship, but he has become the Hornets' sixth man as a true freshman.
• Wu, who hails from Taipei City, Taiwan, is averaging 6.9 ppg while shooting a proficient .496 (56-of-113) from the field despite most of shots coming from the perimeter.
• In conference play, he's upped those marks to 8.3 ppg while shooting .516 (32-62) from the field and .407 (11-27) from the 3-point line.
• He has scored at least eight points in six of the Hornets' 10 conference games, including double figures on four occasions.

STARTING STREAK FOR DEMPS COMES TO AN END

• Team co-captain Cody Demps has produced an impressive stat line of 12.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting .448 (52-116) from the field and .423 (11-26) from the 3-point line.
• Demps has played four positions during his career with the Hornets, and has assumed the point guard duties for the first time this season.
• The quiet leader had started 75 straight games and played in 104 straight games until missing the last nine games due to a lower body injury.

HORNET NOTABLES

• After starting 48 of 50 games, junior center Eric Stuteville has come off the bench each of the last four games. He has scored in double figures once in the last nine games, and that came on Thursday when he had 15 points and 9 rebounds vs. Montana.
• Dreon Barlett buried a career-high five 3-pointers vs. Montana State, and is now shooting a career .415 (78-of-188) from distance, the sixth best mark in school history.
• Junior Nick Hornsby has raised his scoring and rebounding average every year of his career, and now averages 7.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.