MEN'S BASKETBALL OPENS BIG SKY PLAY THURSDAY AT MONTANA STATE
Complete game notes (26 pages) - pdf
After nine non-conference games, Sacramento State (4-5) will finally open Big Sky Conference play on Thursday at Montana State (5-6)…tip-off at Worthington Arena is set for 6:05 p.m. PST…the Hornets will open the 20-game league schedule with four straight road contests, including a Saturday evening tilt against Montana in Missoula…the Hornets have improved their conference record every year of head coach Brian Katz's tenure with the team: 1-15 in 2008-09, 3-13 in 2009-10, 4-12 in 2010-11, 5-11 in 2011-12, and 8-12 last season…the top seven teams in the 11-member league qualify for the Big Sky's postseason event, and the Hornets finished in a three-way tie for sixth last year, but missed out on the playoffs because of a tiebreaker…last season, Sacramento State opened the Big Sky season with a 62-57 home win against Montana State, snapping a six-game losing streak in conference openers…since joining the Big Sky in 1996-97, the Hornets are 4-13 in their Big Sky openers, and 0-7 when those openers come on the road…Sacramento State is coming off Sunday's 69-67 home win over UC Riverside in which a pair of Dylan Garrity free throws with eight seconds remaining delivered the win…the Hornets are 1-4 on the road this season with the lone victory coming at rival UC Davis on Nov. 26…Thursday will mark the first time in 10 days that Montana State has played a game as the team's last contest was a 70-55 loss at UTEP on Dec. 23…the Hornets are 15-26 all-time against Montana State, including a 5-17 mark when playing in Bozeman…in a series that includes an abundance of close games, the Hornets have won just once in Bozeman over the last seven years, and that came in a 74-71 win during the 2010-11 season…one of those losses in Bozeman came in last year's regular season finale which eliminated the Hornets from Big Sky Tournament contention and prevented the team from finishing with its first overall record above .500 during the Div. I era…like every game the rest of the season, Thursday's contest can be seen live and free on www.WatchBigSky.com…the game can also be heard over the airwaves on KTKZ 1380 AM The Answer and on the internet at www.hornetsports.com with 17th year play-by-play announcer Steve McElroy calling the game...live stats for the game are available via www.msubobcats.com.
557 AND COUNTING
Sacramento State has converted at least one three-pointer in 557 straight games. It has been over 20 years since the Hornets failed to convert a three ball. The last time the program was blanked from beyond the arc came on Nov. 28, 1993, when the Hornets went 0-for-6 in a loss on the road at Montana State.
MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Though last year's Big Sky Conference record isn't glaring, Sacramento State has improved its league record each of the last four years. The Hornets went 8-12 last season against Big Sky teams, improving upon a 5-11 record in 2011-12, 4-12 in 2010-11, 3-13 in 2009-10, and 1-15 in 2008-09. Last year's 8-12 conference record also included four heartbreaking one-point losses.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A HALF MAKES
Through the first nine games of the season, Sacramento State has been a much different team in the first half compared to the second half. In fact, the team has outscored the opposition by an average of 3.1 points in the first half compared to being outscored by more than six points (6.1 ppg) in the second half. The second half slump has been most evident in the team's last two games when the Hornets squandered an eight-point halftime lead in a loss at Cal State Fullerton and nearly squandered a 10-point halftime lead in the two-point home victory against UC Riverside on Sunday.
FOULS ON THE RISE
Last May, the NCAA men's basketball rules committee voted on changes intended to cut down the amount of physical play and encourage a more open style of play. The NCAA warned that more fouls would likely be called. In Sacramento State's case, that has certainly rang true. Through nine games, the Hornets have been whistled for 202 fouls, or 22.4 per contest. In comparison, last year's team finished the season with an average of 16.0 fouls per game. Sacramento State has now committed at least 22 fouls in six consecutive games. A Hornet has fouled out of a game nine times already this season after finishing with six foul outs in 29 games last year.
FREE THROW ATTEMPT DISPARITY
With the Hornets averaging more than 22 fouls per game, the opponents have taken advantage, going to the free throw line a ridiculous 251 times. That breaks down to a robust 27.9 free throw attempts per game, which is partially to blame for the Hornets' 4-5 record. Opponents have shot at least 20 free throws in all but one game, and at least 29 freebies on five occasions. The opposition has attempted 89 more free throws (251-162) and converted 50 more of those freebies (164-119) than Sacramento State.
PRODUCTION FROM THE NEWCOMERS
Over the last three games, the production from Hornet newcomers has spiked considerably. During that three-game stretch, Sacramento State's primary newcomers Alex Tiffin, Zach Mills, Eric Stuteville, Nick Hornsby and Case Rada have combined to average 26.0 points, 17.0 rebounds and 76.3 minutes per game. This comes after that fivesome combined for 15.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 58.3 minutes during the first six games.
Sacramento State is 4-0 when outrebounding the opposition, and 0-5 when being outrebounded. The Hornets are also 4-0 when scoring at least 69 points in a game, and have won all four games in which they had a lead with five minutes to play.
Academically, of the 18 Hornets that have expired their eligibility under head coach Brian Katz, 14 have graduated, and three more are on pace to graduate during the 2013-14 academic year.
IN SHARP CONTRAST
Sacramento State's offensive production of 63.4 points per game ranks 10th in the Big Sky and 325th in the nation out of 345 Div. I teams. However, defensively, the Hornets are allowing just 66.4 points per contest, which ranks tied for second in the Big Sky and 85th in the nation. Last season, Sacramento State allowed opponents 65.7 points per game, the best mark for the program in over 40 years.
As far as a starting lineup goes, one thing is pretty certain....head coach Brian Katz will start Dylan Garrity at point guard, Mikh McKinney at shooting guard, Cody Demps at swingman and Alex Tiffin in the post. Junior Zach Mills has garnered the start at forward each of the last three games while four other players have started in that spot comprised of
Joey Quigley (3 times), center Eric Stuteville (2), and forward Jordan Salley (1).
Junior point guard Dylan Garrity, who has been the Hornets' starting point guard the moment he stepped foot on campus two and a half years ago, continues to impress. Already fourth in school history in career assists (363), Garrity has increased his scoring average from 8.1 ppg as a freshman, to 11.6 ppg as a sophomore, and currently 12.2 ppg this season. He is shooting .449 (22-49) from beyond the 3-point line, and averaging 2.4 makes per game, both the third best marks in the Big Sky. Most impressive, however, is the fact he's turned the ball over just nine times in 282 minutes (one every 31.3 minutes) despite playing a highly demanding position. His 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is currently the best mark in the Big Sky and 28th best in the nation.
STAT SHEET STUFFING McKINNEY
Junior shooting guard Mikh McKinney, who shares the team captain duties with Dylan Garrity, is currently averaging 14.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting .444 (44-99) from the field and .941 (32-34) from the free throw line. He has scored in double figures in all but one game, including a season-best 25 points at UC Davis, and 22 more at UTEP. The Union City, Calif., native has started all 38 games during his Sacramento State career after transferring from Ohlone College. He has scored in double figures in 27 of those games. That includes his current streak of six straight games with double figures in points. Overall, his .941 free throw percentage this year is easily the best mark in the Big Sky and fourth best in the nation.
BIG STRIDES FOR DEMPS
Last season as a true freshman, swingman Cody Demps averaged 3.0 points and 1.8 rebounds in 13.8 minutes of playing time. What a difference a year makes. This season, Demps is not only getting bigger minutes (26.6 per game), he is making the most of the added playing time, averaging 7.1 points and a team-high 4.2 rebounds per game. All of this despite fouling out of four games this season, including a streak of three foul outs in the last four contests.
After going 1 for his first 10 from beyond the 3-point line, sophomore Case Rada has buried 3 of his last 5 attempts from distance spanning the last three games…10 of junior Joey Quigley's 23 rebounds have come on the offensive end. Despite averaging just 12.1 minutes per game, his 10 offensive rebounds are second most on the team…junior forward Zach Mills has started the last three games and is averaging 23.0 minutes over that stretch after averaging just 11.0 minutes the first six games of the year…junior Jordan Salley is 1 for his last 6 from the field, lowering his team-high field goal percentage to .588…freshman Nick Hornsby has pulled 15 rebounds in the last two games after combining to grab 13 rebounds his first six games…over the last three games, junior Alex Tiffin is averaging 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds on .619 shooting (13-21) from the field.