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MEN'S HOOPS BACK AT THE NEST ON THURSDAY, HOSTS EASTERN WASHINGTON

MEN'S HOOPS BACK AT THE NEST ON THURSDAY, HOSTS EASTERN WASHINGTON

Sacramento State Game Notes & Stats (pdf
Big Sky Conference standings

GAME PREVIEW

• Fresh off a tough 66-64 road loss at Idaho State, Sacramento State (10-13, 3-9) returns home to face Eastern Washington (15-10, 9-4) on Thursday evening at the Nest. Tip-off between the Hornets and Eagles is set for 7:05 p.m.
• The Hornets have dropped three straight games, two of which have come by three points or less. That includes Saturday's loss to Idaho State in which the Hornets finished the game on a 17-8 run, but fell just short.
• Sacramento State is 7-4 at home third year, but just 2-3 against Big Sky opposition inside the friendly confines. The Hornets' two home wins over league foes came against Montana (83-79) and Idaho State (82-71).
• With six games remaining in the regular season (four at home), the Hornets currently sit 10th in the 12-team conference with a 3-9 league record. All 12 teams qualify for this year's Big Sky Tournament in Reno (March 8-12).
• The Hornets are looking to avoid their first four-game losing streak since the 2011-12 season.
• Sacramento State has won three of its last four Thursday games, which comes in stark contrast to the team's baffling 0-9 record on Saturdays.
• Fourth-year senior and team co-captain Cody Demps has played each of the last two games after missing nine straight games with a quad injury. Last week, he averaged 8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 26.0 minutes per game.
• Eastern Washington defeated the Hornets in Cheney earlier this year by a 74-67 score, and is in the midst of a conference-best six-game winning streak.
• During that winning streak, every outcome has been a double figure victory except the game against Sacramento State.
• The Hornets are 14-30 all-time against Eastern Washington, including an 11-10 mark when playing at home. That includes a three-game winning streak for Sacramento State over the Eagles inside the Nest.
• Overall, EWU has won three straight against the Hornets, including last year's 91-83 victory in the Big Sky Tournament semifinals in Missoula.
• EWU has the highest scoring offense in the Big Sky (83.2 ppg) and ranks sixth in the nation in both field goal percentage (.499) and 3-pointers made per game (10.6).

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. EASTERN WASHINGTON

• Sacramento State closed the game on a 23-13 run, but never had an opportunity to tie late in a 74-67 loss at Eastern Washington on Jan. 30.
• The Hornets trailed by a game-high 17 points (61-44) with 9:18 remaining in the contest, but had that lead sliced to single digits at 62-55 after Marcus Graves buried one of his career-high four 3-pointers at the 5:11 mark. From there, it was a single digit game the rest of the way.
• A Graves layup at the 17-second mark had things at a one-possession game (70-67) for the first time since a 15-13 Eastern Washington lead at the 10:23 mark of the first half. However, the Hornets never had a chance to tie as the Eagles converted on four free throws during the final 16 seconds to provide the final score.
• The Eagles never trailed the entire way, and held a lead for all but 1:35 of the contest. That included EWU scoring each of the game's first six points and never looking back.
• Sacramento State was able to stay within striking distance by limiting Eastern Washington to 1-for-20 shooting from the 3-point line
• However, Eastern Washington controlled the inside, outscoring the Hornets, 50-32, in points in the paint. Eastern Washington also took advantage of a massive whistle disparity that saw the Hornets called for 11 more fouls that the Eagles (23-12). The Hornets were never in the bonus while the Eagles were in the bonus for a combined 15:37.

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 four of the last five 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 38.9 points in the second half.
• The Hornets are being outscored in the first half by an average of 2.2 points, but have outscored the opposition in the second half by an average of 2.2 points.

SATURDAY BLUES

• Amazingly, Sacramento State is 0-9 when playing on Saturdays this year, and is being outscored in those games by 9.1 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), Eastern Washington (74-67) and Idaho State (66-64).

HORNETS FINALLY HEALTHY

• Sacramento State has finally returned to health after playing 11 games without a starter because of injury. Prior to the injuries, Sacramento State was looking good with a 7-3 record. However, by the time the injury bug went away, the Hornets were 10-11.
• 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.
• With Cody Demps return from injury last Thursday, the Hornets are back to health, but still working out the kinks of a team playing together again for the first time in a while.
• Prior to Thursday, the team had played its first 10 league games minus an injured starter.

EIGHT LOSSES THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT OUTCOMES

• In eight of the team's 13 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.
- 66-64 loss at Idaho State - trailed, 60-59, with 3:00 to play.
- 79-76 loss to Montana State - trailed, 77-76, with 3 seconds remaining.
- 74-67 loss at Eastern Washington - trailed, 70-67, with 17 seconds remaining.
- 71-64 loss at Montana St. - led, 61-60, with 2:30 left/one possession game in last minute.
- 76-68 loss at Portland State - led 55-53 with 4:30 remaining.
- 70-60 loss at Stanford - tied, 56-56, with 5:10 remaining/trailed, 63-60, with 3:21 left.
- 66-61 loss at UC Davis - tied, 61-61, with 1:12 left/one possession game in final minute.
- 96-90 loss to South Dakota - led, 81-80, with 4:39 left/one possession game in last minute.

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 six straight 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 six games, however, the team is averaging just 9.7 turnovers, and the opposition is scoring just 10.7 points per contest off those miscues.

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 3-12.
• That includes a 5-1 mark when leading at the half, and 2-0 when tied at the half.
• Sacramento State has trailed at the half in five straight, and 11 of the last 12 games. In fact, the Hornets have trailed at the break in all but one of their conference games.
• The only lead at halftime in a conference game came, 37-21, at Idaho on Jan. 28.

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 16 of the last 17 games and leads the team with an average of 14.7 points overall. In conference play, he leads the Hornets in both scoring (15.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg). That includes a 24-point performance on Saturday at Idaho.
• 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 12 games, leads the team with 20 double-figure scoring 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 13.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 34.3 minutes this season.
• He has scored in double figures 16 times, including four games with at least 20 points.
• Graves is the only Hornet to start all 23 games this year.
• He ranks among the Big Sky's top five players in assist-to-turnover ratio (4th; +1.9), minutes (4th), assists (5th) and steals (5th).

DEMPS IS BACK

• After missing nine straight games with a quad injury, fourth-year senior and team co-captain Cody Demps returned to action last week and played in both games.
• 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 67.8 points on .429 shooting from the field.
• Demps, who has season averages of 11.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists, averaged 8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in two games last week.
• Demps had started 75 straight games and played 104 straight games prior to the injury.
• Demps, who has played four positions during his career, assumed the point guard duties for the first time this season.

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 .468 (58-of-124) from the field despite most of his shots coming from the perimeter.
• In conference play, he's upped those marks to 7.5 ppg while shooting .466 (34-73) from the field and .382 (13-34) from the 3-point line.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Over the last two games, Sacramento State is averaging just 57.0 points on .354 shooting from the field. Prior to last Thursday's game at Weber State, the Hornets had gone 12 consecutive games shooting at least .400 from the field.
• With the return of Cody Demps, Jiday Ugbaja has played a combined 18 minutes over the last two games. Prior to Demps' return, Ugbja had started four straight games.
• Junior Nick Hornsby grabbed 10 rebounds on Saturday at Idaho State, marking the 10th time a Hornet has secured double figures in rebounds this year (Strings 4x, Hornsby 3x, Eric Stuteville 3x).
• Sacramento State has been outrebounded in seven of the last eight games. The Hornets are 5-1 when outrebounding their opponent this year.
• Guard Dreon Barlett has connected on seven 3-pointers over his last three games, and is shooting .386 from the 3-point line this year, and .410 from distance for his career.
• Sacramento State has used six different starting lineups this season. The starting unit that has been used most (10 games) consists of Graves, Demps and Barlett at guards, Hornsby at forward and Eric Stuteville at center.