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Feb. 14, 2007 Game Notes vs. Montana State
MEN'S BASKETBALL WELCOMES MONTANA STATE TO THE NEST ON VALENTINE'S DAY
A Brief Preview
After dropping back-to-back road games last week to the Montana schools, the Sacramento State men’s basketball squad (8-17, 3-9) plays the first of two remaining home games this Wednesday, Feb. 14, vs. Montana State at 7:05 p.m. The game against Montana State will mark the second meeting in six days between the two schools as the Hornets lost in Bozeman, Mont., last week by the score of 74-59.
With just four games remaining on the regular season schedule, Sacramento State still has an outside shot of reaching the Big Sky Tournament for the fifth straight year. The top six teams in the nine-member league reach the league’s postseason event, and the Hornets are currently eighth, three games behind sixth-place Portland State. Sacramento State, Montana and Eastern Washington entered the season as the only three Big Sky teams to reach the postseason each of the last four years, and that streak could end for both the Hornets and Eagles. Montana is just one victory shy of clinching its fifth straight appearance.
In order for the Hornets to reach the tournament, they would have to win their remaining four games, hope that Portland State (7-7) loses its final two games, and need seventh-place Eastern Washington (6-8) to win no more than one of its two remaining games. The Hornets play both Portland State and Eastern Washington on the road next week, having already defeated Portland State at home earlier this season. Should all three teams finish with 7-9 records, Sacramento State would win the tiebreaker by virtue of having a better combined head-to-head record among the three teams. If the Hornets lose one of their final four games, they would be eliminated from playoff contention.
As tough a scenario as that may sound, Sacramento State also closes the year at home against the current first-place team in the conference (Weber State on March 26). In addition, the Hornets have lost nine of their last 10 games after beginning the conference season with a 2-1 record. Since that point, however, the Hornets have struggled offensively (shooting .387), defensively (allowing the opposition to shoot .532) and in the rebounding department (-11.2 rebounding disparity per game) over the team’s last 10 contests.
Montana State (10-15, 7-5 Big Sky) has played well during the conference season under first-year head coach Brad Huse. The Bobcats have won six of their last eight games, including last Thursday’s 15-point victory at home over the Hornets. However, Montana State has struggled on the road posting a 3-9 record away from the friendly confines, including four losses in their last five road games. In addition, the Hornets had won six consecutive games against Montana State in Sacramento until a heartbreaking 78-75 loss last season. The Bobcats own an 18-10 record in the all-time series between the two teams.
Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live on hornetsports.com and bigskytv.org with Steve McElroy calling all the action. McElroy is in his 10th season as radio voice of Hornet basketball.
Sacramento State head coach Jerome Jenkins has used a different starting lineup seven times in the last 10 games trying to find a good combination of players to right the ship.
All 13 players that have appeared in a Sacramento State uniform have started at least one game this season. Overall, Jenkins has used 11 different starting lineups. Senior Alex Bausley has been the only constant in the lineup, starting all 25 games this season.
A Close Game, What’s That?
With the exception of four games that have been decided by four points or less (the Hornets are 3-1 in those contests), every other Sacramento State game this season has been decided by at least seven points. Sixteen of the team’s 17 losses have come by seven points or worse, and five of the eight wins have come by at least eight points. This comes in sharp contrast to last season when the Hornets finished 5-8 in games decided by five points or less.
Second Half Woes
One major reason for the Hornets’ slide over the last 10 games has been the team’s inability to put together a good second half. Despite keeping things close at halftime of nearly every game, Sacramento State has struggled mightily in the second stanza. Over the last 10 games, opponents have combined to shoot 58.7 percent (145-247) from the field in the second half, with six of those teams shooting better than 60.0 percent. Conversely, the Hornets have shot 36.0 percent (123-342) in the second half, while failing to shoot anything better than 42.5 percent in any of the 10 games.
For the complete version of Sacramento State's game notes, click on the link above the story.