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MEN'S HOOPS TRAVELS TO POCATELLO FOR SATURDAY GAME AT IDAHO STATE

MEN'S HOOPS TRAVELS TO POCATELLO FOR SATURDAY GAME AT IDAHO STATE

Sacramento State Game Notes (pdf)
Big Sky Conference standings

GAME PREVIEW

• With just seven games remaining in the regular season, Sacramento State (10-12, 3-8) travels to Pocatello for a Saturday evening matchup with Idaho State (12-11, 7-4). Tip-off at Holt Arena is set for 6:05 p.m. PST.
• The Hornets are coming off a 63-50 loss at Weber State on Thursday night in which both teams scored a season low in points.
• Sacramento State will attempt to win its first Saturday game of the season. Amazingly, the Hornets are 0-8 on Saturdays and 10-4 every other day of the week.
• Idaho State is currently all alone in fourth place in the 12-team Big Sky while the Hornets sit in 10th place. All 12 teams qualify for this year's Big Sky Tournament in Reno (March 8-12), and the top four teams receive a first round bye.
• One positive that came out of Thursday's loss to Weber State was the return of senior guard and team co-captain Cody Demps, who had missed nine straight games with injury. Demps had eight points, six rebounds, two assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes.
• Thursday's game at Weber State marked the first time during the entire conference season that Sacramento State played with a healthy roster. In fact, the team had played without an injured starter in each of its first 10 conference games.
• The Hornets are 3-8 on the road, including 1-5 against conference opposition. Sacramento State opened the season with road wins at Arizona State and Seattle, but has since dropped eight of nine away from home.
• The Hornets beat Idaho State earlier this year by an 82-71 score at the Nest. Sacramento State scored 53 points in the second half, and led the final 16:28 of the contest.
• Since that loss, however, Idaho State has been one of the hottest teams in the league, winning six of its last seven games. That includes an 88-71 home win over Portland State on Thursday night.
• The Bengals are 8-2 at home this year, and 5-1 against league opposition.
• In a series which dates back to the 1951-52 season, Sacramento State is 18-27 all-time against Idaho State, including an 8-15 mark when playing in Pocatello.
• Ten of the last 15 meetings between the teams have been decided by six points or less.
• The Hornets have won four of the last five meetings, including a 62-59 victory last season in Pocatello (that game was played at Reed Gym).

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.
• Saturday'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. IDAHO STATE

• Four Hornets scored in double figures, and the Hornets poured in 53 points in the second half on the way to an 82-71 victory over Idaho State on Jan. 14 at the Nest.
• After trailing at the break, 33-29, the Hornets outscored the Bengals in the second half by a 53-38 margin. The 53 points are the Hornets' second most this season as the team shot .583 (14-of-24) from the field and .870 (20-23) in the second half.
• Many of those free throws came during the final 2:36 when the Hornets went 16-of-18 from the charity stripe to put the game away.
• Sacramento State began the second half on an 8-2 run and did not trail the final 16:28 of the contest. Sparking the second half surge was guard Dreon Barlett, who finished with career highs in points (18), rebounds (8) and blocked shots (2). Amazingly, all 18 of his points came in the second half.
• Joining Barlett in double figures were Nick Hornsby (14 points, 10 rebounds), Justin Strings (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Marcus Graves (13 points, five assists)
• A 13-3 run that spanned 3:24 of game clock late in the second half put the game away, and gave the Hornets a 70-57 lead with 2:22 to play. Five different Hornets scored during the spurt, including Barlett (4), Strings (3), Hornsby (2), Graves (2) and Jeff Wu (2).
• Overall, Sacramento State shot .520 (26-of-50) from the field, and .400 (8-for-20) from the 3-point line.

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).

SLOW STARTS LEADING TO BIG 1ST HALF DEFICITS

• Sacramento State has gotten off to a number of slow starts lately that has put the team in a hole early and led to large first half deficits.
• In each of the last four games, Sacramento State has found itself down big early and failed to eclipse the 10-point mark until there were 11 minutes or less remaining in each 1st half.
- Trailed at Weber State, 18-8, did not eclipse 10 points until 7:06 left in the first half.
- Trailed at home vs. Montana State, 19-10, did not eclipse 10 points until 9:12 left in half.
- Trailed at home vs. Montana, 21-6, did not eclipse 10 points until 9:47 left in the half.
- Trailed at Eastern Washington, 14-6, did not eclipse 10 points until 10:58 left in the half.
• Sluggish first halves have been a problem all year as the Hornets average just 32.9 points in the first half compared to 39.2 points in the second half.
• The Hornets are being outscored in the first half by an average of 2.1 points, but have outscored the opposition in the second half by an average of 2.2 points.

INJURIES STINGING THE HORNETS

• Sacramento State has played 11 of the last 13 games without an injured starter, and the team has posted a 3-8 record during those 11 contests.
• Prior to Thursday, the team had played its first 10 league games minus 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 missed nine straight games. All three have returned to health as Demps made his return Thursday night at Weber State.

SEVEN LOSSES THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT OUTCOMES

• In seven of the team's 12 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 each of the last five 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 five games, however, the team is averaging just 9.8 turnovers, and the opposition is scoring just 10.6 points per contest off those miscues.

BLOCK PARTY

• Sacramento State's 4.3 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 (3rd; 2.0 bpg), and forwards Nick Hornsby (T-10th; 0.8 bpg) and Justin Strings (T-10th; 0.8 bpg).

HALFTIME SCORE USUALLY TELLS THE TALE

• So far, the halftime score has been a good indication of what the final outcome will be in the majority of Sacramento State's games this season.
• When tied or leading at the half, Sacramento State is 7-1. And when trailing at the half, the Hornets are 3-11.
• That includes a 5-1 mark when leading at the half, and 2-0 when tied at the half.

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 15 of the last 16 games and leads the team with scoring averages of 14.2 points overall. In conference play, he leads the Hornets in both scoring (15.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg).
• The scoring and rebounding in league play are the second best marks in the Big Sky among all sophomores.
• He has started each of the last 11 games, leads the team with 19 double-figure efforts, and has a team-high four double-doubles in league play.

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 13.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 34.4 minutes this season.
• He has scored in double figures 16 times, including four games with at least 20 points.
• He has scored in double digits in seven of the last eight games, and is averaging 15.0 points over that span.
• He ranks among the Big Sky's top five players in assist-to-turnover ratio (4th; +1.9), minutes (4th), assists (4th) and steals (5th).

DEMPS BACK FROM INJURY

• After missing nine straight games with a quad injury, fourth-year senior and team co-captain Cody Demps returned to action Thursday night at Weber State, and put up eight points, six rebounds, two assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes.
• Demps, who has played four positions during his career, assumed the point guard duties for the first time this season.
• Its no secret the Hornets ran a crisper offense when Demps was healthy as the team was averaging 76.1 points and shooting .462 from the field prior to his injury. Since his injury, which coincided with the beginning of conference play, Sacramento State is averaging just 68.2 points on .434 shooting from the field.
• In 13 games, Demps is averaging 12.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 29.3 minutes per game while shooting .444 from the field and .423 from the 3-point line.
• The quiet leader had started 75 straight games and played in 104 straight games until the injury.

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' first or second man off the bench as a true freshman.
• Wu, who hails from Taipei City, Taiwan, is averaging 6.6 ppg while shooting a proficient .479 (56-of-117) from the field despite most of shots coming from the perimeter.
• In conference play, he's upped those marks to 7.6 ppg while shooting .485 (32-66) from the field and .393 (11-28) from the 3-point line.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Sophomore guard Jiday Ugbaja (pronounced Ji-Day You-Baw-Juh) had started four straight games at guard prior to coming off the bench Thursday night in Weber State. Over the last five games, he is averaging 9.0 points and 22.4 minutes after averaging 1.9 points and 7.3 minutes the first 17 games of the season.  
• After coming off the bench in four straight games, center Eric Stuteville was back in the starting lineup on Thursday at Weber State. Stuteville, who has scored in double figures just once in the last 10 games, has now started 49 of the last 55 games for the Hornets.
• Guard Dreon Barlett, who is a career .415 shooter from the 3-point line, did not attempt a 3-pointer for just the third time this season on Thursday at Weber State.
• Junior Nick Hornsby, who averages 7.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 27.6 minutes, came off the bench for the first time all year on Thursday. He had started each of the first 20 games he's appeared in this season.