MEN'S BASKETBALL LOOKS TO EVEN RECORD AGAINST SOUTHERN IN THE SECOND ROUND OF THE GUARDIANS CLASSIC
After a tough three-point loss to Samford on Tuesday, Sacramento State looks to get back on track against the Southern Jaguars in the second round of the Guardians Classic on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. PST. Southern lost to host and second-ranked Texas on Tuesday night by the score of 89-56. The Hornets will face Southern in the regional consolation game while Texas will take on Samford in the regional championship game and the right to advance to the championship round in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 21-22.
The Guardians Classic consists of 16 teams from 16 conferences playing at four regional sites, with each site hosting a four-team regional. Sacramento State is 0-3 all-time at the Guardians Classic, including an 0-2 record during the 2001-02 season when the team lost to both Old Dominion and Wofford in Memphis, Tenn.
Sacramento State''s game against Southern will be televised live on ESNPU, marking the first time in program history that the Hornet men''s basketball program will have a game televised by the ESPN network. The game will also be broadcast on both KTKZ 1380 AM and www.hornetsports.com with Brian Berger calling the action. Wednesday''s game will be broadcast live on www.hornetsports.com, but will be aired on a tape-delay basis on KTKZ (7:00 p.m.).
On Tuesday, the Hornets had a one-point lead (47-46) with 1:12 remaining in the contest, but Samford closed the game on a 6-2 run including a pair of clutch free throws from both J. Robert Merritt and Curtis West. Sacramento State had a chance to tie the game with 11 seconds remaining, but Jason Harris'' three-point attempt fell off the mark. Hornet senior point guard DaShawn Freeman scored a game-high 18 points, including 13 in the second half, in the losing effort.
Sacramento State, which has improved its Big Sky Conference record five-consecutive years (2-14 in 2000-01; 3-11 in 2001-02; 5-9 in 2002-03; 7-7 in 2003-04; 8-6 last year), enters the season with the highest expectations since the team joined the league in 1996-97. Behind the strength of nine returners (including four starters), the most returners since the program joined the Div. I ranks in 1991-92, Sacramento State is searching for its first Big Sky title.
Sacramento State, which recorded its highest placing in the Big Sky standings in 2003-04 (tied for second), has been selected anywhere from first through third by numerous preseason publications. Combine that with nearly every publication naming Harris as its preseason conference player of the year, and the Hornets are entering the season amidst some of the highest expectations in years. Sacramento State has posted double figures in overall wins (including 12-16 last year) each of the last three years after failing to accomplish the feat during the school''s first 11 years of Div. I play.
Leading the list of returners are team captains Harris (6-4, 220 pounds), Freeman (5-11, 175 pounds) and junior forward Alex Bausley (6-6, 235 pounds). Each player was instrumental in the Hornets finishing the 2004-05 regular season as winners of four in a row, seven of the last nine, and nine of the last 13 games.
Harris, who became the first Hornet to earn Big Sky Newcomer of the Year honors, averaged 17.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 7.9 trips to the free throw line per game.
The second-longest tenured player on this year''s roster, Freeman has already established himself as one of the top point guards in program history. An honorable mention all-Big Sky selection, Freeman was ninth in the nation last season with 2.9 steals per game, and is the Hornet Div. I leader in both assists (340) and steals (202). He is just eight steals shy of the program record of 210, held by Pat Wallace.
After shedding 35 pounds prior to last season, Bausley responded by averaging 10.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 three-pointers and 1.2 steals per game.
Also returning are two post players who combined to start 26 games last year in seniors Chris Lange (5.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and Aaron Perry (3.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 20 blocked shots). Senior center Zane Beekman returns after finishing with an average of 1.4 blocked shots per game against conference competition.
Sophomores Davon Roberts (6-6, 205-pound forward ), Randy Adams (6-8, 220-pound forward) and Jason Gilzene (6-6, 200-pound swingman) also return to the lineup.
For all nine pages of the game notes for the Southern game, please click on the link above the story.