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MEN’S BASKETBALL SEASON ON THE HORIZON, FIRST OFFICIAL TEAM PRACTICE IS FRIDAY

MEN’S BASKETBALL SEASON ON THE HORIZON, FIRST OFFICIAL TEAM PRACTICE IS FRIDAY

2019-20 Quick Facts (pdf)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento State men's basketball team, guided by 12th-year head coach Brian Katz, begins its preseason practice schedule this Friday, Sept. 27.

Practice will continue five days a week leading up to the team's opener - a home exhibition game on Wednesday, Oct. 30, against Westcliff. The regular season begins with a pair of home games on Nov. 8 vs. Simpson and Nov. 15 against UC Riverside. Each of the Hornets' first three regular season games will take place in Sacramento, including the annual matchup with UC Davis at the Golden 1 Center on Nov. 20.

The Hornets will play nine non-conference games (four at home, four on the road, one neutral) before opening the 20-game Big Sky Conference portion of the schedule on Dec. 28 at Montana State.

Below are some notes on the program heading into the 2019-20 season.

QUICK HITS

• Sacramento State is coming off a 2018-19 season in which the team finished 15-16 overall and 8-12 in the Big Sky Conference. The 15 wins tied are the second largest output during the program's Div. I era (1991-pres.). The Hornets were never better than four games above .500, or worse than one game below .500 during the entire season.

• Sacramento State returns 11 players (one redshirt), including four starters, from a year ago. That list includes six of the team's top seven scorers. Gone is leading scorer and second team all-conference selection Marcus Graves (16.8 ppg), but the Hornets still return a huge chunk of their scoring production. In fact, with the exception of Graves, every player on the roster that averaged at least four points per game is back.

• The list of returners includes center Joshua Patton (12.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg), guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa (8.5 ppg, 1.5 spg), forward Ethan Esposito (8.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg), guard Bryce Fowler (8.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg), forward Osi Nwachukwu (6.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and forward Chibueze Jacobs (4.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg). Patton started all 31 games last season and was the only center in the Big Sky to garner all-league accolades when he was named to the third team. Mauriohooho-Le'afa (26), Fowler (20) and Nwachukwu (17) also started over half of the team's games.

• Only Graves and Patton started all 31 games a year ago. In addition, either Graves or Patton led or tied for the team lead in scoring in all but three games during the season. Patton has never missed a game during his career (94 straight games), and has made 63 consecutive starts.

• Sacramento State has 18 players on its roster this season, the most in the program's Div. I era (1991-pres.). Of those 18 players, there are five seniors, six juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. That includes seven newcomers, four of which are walk-ons. The Hornets have 11 players that could see time at guard, six forwards and one at center.

• Of the Hornets' 22 games against Big Sky opposition (including two conference tournament games) a year ago, 11 were decided by six points or less. During those 11 games, Sacramento State was 4-7. In six of those losses, Sacramento State held a lead with under 3:15 to play in four of them.

• Sacramento State defeated Northern Arizona, 72-60, in the first round of last year's Big Sky Tournament, and lost by just six points in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Montana (79-73). The Hornets have now won at least one conference tournament game in four of the last five seasons. Prior to that five-year stretch, Sacramento State had combined for two tourney wins during its first 18 years in the Big Sky.

• Prior to Sacramento State's 79-73 loss to Montana on a Thursday in the Big Sky Tournament, the Hornets had won seven straight games on a Thursday. However, and remarkably, the team lost each of its last 12 games on a Saturday. That included all 11 Saturday contests against a Big Sky opponent. Overall, Sacramento State was 8-3 on Thursdays and 2-12 on Saturdays. The Big Sky plays the majority of its conference games on Thursday and Saturday.

• Sacramento State went 9-5 at home last season, and is now a combined 67-30 (.691 winning percentage) inside the Nest dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season.

• Sacramento State is the only public university in California to ever receive the NCAA Public Recognition Award for academic progress rate scores in men's basketball. And the Hornets have accomplished the feat each of the last three years. Currently, Sacramento State has a 3.035 team grade point average. Moreover, of the 39 Hornets that have expired their eligibility during Coach Katz's tenure, 38 have graduated.

• All regular season home contests, and road games played at a Big Sky Conference venue can be seen live and free via web stream on Pluto.TV channel 533. There will be no live video stream for the exhibition game. All multimedia links (video, live stats, audio) can be found next to each game on the men's basketball schedule at hornetsports.com.

• Sacramento State will feature the same coaching staff for the seventh straight year, comprised of head coach Brian Katz, associate head coach Brandon Laird, assistant coaches Chris Walker and Nate Smith, and director of basketball operations Ajay Riding.

• The Sacramento State Men's Basketball Hall of Fame Banquet is set for Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the Alumni Center on campus where alums Joel Jones, Jack Heron, Paul Hayes, Rob Richards and Monte White will be honored. Both Jones and Heron will be inducted into the Sacramento State Men's Basketball Hall of Fame. Hayes, Richards and White will be among the eighth round of inductees into the Coaches Circle, a wing of the Hall of Fame to honor area coaches that graduated from Sacramento State. If you are interested in attending or for more information, please click here for online registration.