SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Junior Mikh McKinney had 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, and true freshman Eric Stuteville added 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to lead Sacramento State to a 79-58 victory over Northern Colorado on Saturday evening at The Nest.
Playing their best basketball in over two decades, and arguably the hottest team in the Big Sky Conference, the Hornets (13-12, 9-7) have won three straight and seven of their last eight games. The team defeated a Northern Colorado squad (16-9, 10-6) that had won three straight and was sitting in second place in the league standings.
With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Hornets find themselves in a three-way tie for third place with Montana and North Dakota. Sacramento State is also just one game back of second place Northern Colorado and three games behind conference-leading Weber State (12-4). The top seven teams in the 11-member league qualify for the Big Sky Tournament, a place the Hornets haven't been since the 2005-06 season. Likely two more wins would allow the Hornets to qualify for the postseason event.
Below are some more facts about Sacramento State's current run....
• The Hornets have won seven straight games at home, matching the longest run in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and tied for the fourth longest home winning streak in school history.
• The team's seven-game home winning streak against Big Sky competition is easily the longest since joining the league in 1996-97.
• The team is now 10-2 at home this year (7-1 in league), and the 10 wins match the Div. I era record for most home victories in a season.
• Overall, the Hornets have won seven of their last eight games, matching the 2005-06 squad for the best eight-game run in the team's Div. I era.
• The Hornets' nine conference wins are the most since joining the Big Sky in 1996-97. The previous record was eight, set by the 2004-05 and 2012-13 squads.
• At 13-12, the Hornets have a shot to finish the season with an overall record above the .500 mark for the first time since joining the Div. I ranks.
• At 9-7, the Hornets have the opportunity to finish with a Big Sky record above .500 for just the second time since joining the league in 1996-97. The 2004-05 squad finished 8-6 in league.
In tonight's game, Sacramento State shot .481 (25-52) from the field and .828 (24-29) from the free throw line while limiting Northern Colorado to just .311 (19-61) shooting from the floor and 3-of-17 from the 3-point line. Perhaps more importantly, Sacramento State dominated the rebounding department (45-34) against a Northern Colorado squad that is easily the Big Sky's top rebounding team and entered the game outrebounding opponents by 4.6 boards per game. The 45 rebounds for the Hornets were a season best and the 79 points were the fourth highest mark of the year.
Sacramento State outscored the Bears by at least 10 points in both halves and led by double figures the final 21:14 of the contest. In fact, the Hornets opened up a lead as large as 25 points late in the second half, and were never threatened after halftime. That included leading by 19 points or more the final 7:41 of the contest.
"The key to this game was rebounding, and we outrebounded them pretty handily. Not only are they the best team in the conference on the glass, they are one of the best teams in the nation in that department," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "We have great kids on this team. They love each other, they believe in each other, they understand their roles, they want to be coached, and they want to win. We are playing very good basketball right now, and we need to keep getting better."
McKinney continues to impose his will on anything resembling an opponent's jersey, finishing just four assists shy of a triple-double while playing a game-high 38 minutes and knocking down 11-of-12 free throws. His 29 points were one shy of a career high, his 11 rebounds were a career best, and the shooting guard has now tallied at least five assists in five straight games. In fact, McKinney's 29 points were more than Northern Colorado scored the entire first half (26). The likely Big Sky Player of the Week is now tied for fifth in the conference with an average of 17.3 points per game against league opposition.
Stuteville's double-double was his first of the season as the 14 points matched a season best and the 12 rebounds were a season high. The true freshman shot 4-of-7 from the field and 6-of-8 from the free throw line in 26 minutes. Dylan Garrity added nine points and six assists, Zach Mills had eight points, Jordan Salley seven points and five rebounds, and Cody Demps had seven points and three assists. Of the Hornets' 45 rebounds, 13 came on the offensive glass, including four from Stuteville.
Northern Colorado had one player in double figures as Jordan Wilson's 17 points were nine more than any other Bear. Derrick Barden, who entered the game as the team's leader in scoring at 14.1 points per game, was limited to just eight points.
Of Sacramento State's four remaining regular season games, two will come on the road, including next week at Weber State (Feb. 27) and Idaho State (March 1).
May 23, 2014 HORNET HOOPS GOLF TOURNAMENT SET FOR MONDAY, JUNE 9
April 28, 2014 MEN’S HOOPS TO HOST SEASON WRAPUP/SIGNING PARTY ON MAY 8
March 10, 2014 TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR BIG SKY MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
February 28, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS FINAL REGULAR SEASON ROAD GAME SATURDAY AT IDAHO ST.
February 27, 2014 WINNING STREAK SNAPPED, MEN'S BASKETBALL FALLS AT WEBER STATE, 79-67
February 26, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS TRAVELS TO WEBER STATE ON THURSDAY, SEEKS 4TH STRAIGHT WIN
February 24, 2014 VOTE GARRITY’S 75-FOOT SHOT FOR GEICO PLAY OF THE YEAR
February 24, 2014 McKINNEY NAMED BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR A SECOND TIME
February 22, 2014 MEN’S BASKETBALL CONTINUES TO ROLL AFTER CRUSHING NORTHERN COLORADO
February 21, 2014 FREE WHITEOUT SHIRTS TO THE FIRST 500 FANS AT SATURDAY’S HOOPS GAME
February 21, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS SEEKS 7TH STRAIGHT HOME WIN SATURDAY VS. NORTHERN COLO.
February 19, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS SEEKS 6TH STRAIGHT HOME WIN THURSDAY VS. NORTH DAKOTA
February 14, 2014 MEN'S BASKETBALL TRAVELS TO PORTLAND STATE ON SATURDAY
February 13, 2014 MEN’S BASKETBALL HAS WINNING STREAK SNAPPED AT EASTERN WASHINGTON
February 12, 2014 WINNERS OF FOUR STRAIGHT, MEN'S HOOPS TRAVELS TO EASTERN WASHINGTON
February 10, 2014 MEN’S HOOPS BEATS SOUTHERN UTAH, COMPLETES HOMESTAND WITH 4-0 RECORD
February 9, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS SEEKS 4TH STRAIGHT WIN, HOSTS SOUTHERN UTAH ON MONDAY
February 6, 2014 WINNING STREAK AT THREE AFTER MEN’S HOOPS DISMANTLES NAU, 87-70
February 5, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS BACK AT HOME THURSDAY NIGHT VS. NORTHERN ARIZONA
February 3, 2014 McKINNEY NAMED BIG SKY MEN’S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
January 31, 2014 MEN’S BASKETBALL’S SIXTH-ANNUAL ALUMNI GAMES TAKE PLACE SATURDAY
January 31, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS HOST BIG SKY-LEADING WEBER STATE ON SATURDAY NIGHT
January 29, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS OPENS LONG HOMESTAND THURSDAY VS. IDAHO STATE
January 25, 2014 BIG DISPARITIES HURT IN MEN’S HOOPS LOSS AT NORTHERN COLORADO
January 24, 2014 ROAD WEARY MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS AT NORTHERN COLORADO ON SATURDAY
January 23, 2014 NORTH DAKOTA USES LATE RUN TO BEAT MEN’S BASKETBALL
January 21, 2014 MEN'S BASKETBALL BACK ON THE ROAD THURSDAY AT NORTH DAKOTA
January 18, 2014 MEN’S BASKETBALL KNOCKS OFF EASTERN WASHINGTON AT HOME, 75-64
January 17, 2014 MEN'S BASKETBALL HOSTS EASTERN WASHINGTON ON SATURDAY NIGHT
January 15, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS FINALLY RETURNS HOME, HOSTS PORTLAND STATE ON THURSDAY
January 11, 2014 MEN’S HOOPS CRUSHES SOUTHERN UTAH, ENDS ROAD TRIP IN A BIG WAY
January 10, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS ROAD TRIP COMES TO AN END SATURDAY AT SOUTHERN UTAH
January 8, 2014 MEN'S HOOPS CONTINUES ROAD TRIP THURSDAY AT NORTHERN ARIZONA
January 2, 2014 MEN’S BASKETBALL DROPS BIG SKY OPENER AT MONTANA STATE
December 31, 2013 MEN'S BASKETBALL OPENS BIG SKY PLAY THURSDAY AT MONTANA STATE
December 29, 2013 LATE FREE THROWS HELP DELIVER 69-67 MEN’S HOOPS WIN OVER UC RIVERSIDE
December 27, 2013 AFTER LONG LAYOFF, MEN'S HOOPS HOSTS UC RIVERSIDE SUNDAY AFTERNOON
December 21, 2013 BIG SECOND HALF FUELS CAL STATE FULLERTON TO VICTORY OVER MEN’S HOOPS
December 19, 2013 MEN'S BASKETBALL PLAYS AT CAL STATE FULLERTON ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON
December 14, 2013 MEN’S HOOPS CRUISES TO 85-54 WIN OVER WILLIAM JESSUP
December 12, 2013 MEN'S BASKETBALL HOSTS WILLIAM JESSUP ON SATURDAY AT 7 P.M.
December 7, 2013 UTEP USES HEALTHY FREE THROW ADVANTAGE TO BEAT MEN’S BASKETBALL
December 4, 2013 MEN'S HOOPS TRAVELS TO EL PASO FOR FIRST EVER MEETING WITH UTEP
November 30, 2013 UC IRVINE USES BIG SECOND HALF TO DEFEAT MEN’S BASKETBALL
November 29, 2013 MEN'S BASKETBALL HOSTS UC IRVINE SATURDAY NIGHT AT 7 P.M.
November 26, 2013 MEN'S BASKETBALL COMES THROUGH WITH CLUTCH WIN AT UC DAVIS, 73-67
November 25, 2013 MEN'S HOOPS AND UC DAVIS TO PLAY FOR THE 112TH TIME ON TUESDAY
November 18, 2013 MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS TO #22 UCLA
November 15, 2013 MEN'S BASKETBALL TRAVELS TO #24 UCLA ON MONDAY
November 13, 2013 MEN’S BASKETBALL SIGNS MIRA COSTA HIGH SCHOOL FORWARD JUSTIN STRINGS
November 13, 2013 BAKERSFIELD HOT FROM DISTANCE IN 74-66 WIN OVER MEN’S BASKETBALL
November 12, 2013 MEN'S BASKETBALL BEGINS ROAD TRIP WEDNESDAY AT CSU BAKERSFIELD
November 8, 2013 MEN’S BASKETBALL BEATS UC SANTA CRUZ, 73-43, IN SEASON OPENER
November 6, 2013 MEN'S BASKETBALL GETS UNDERWAY FRIDAY NIGHT VS. UC SANTA CRUZ
November 5, 2013 2013-14 MEN’S BASKETBALL MEDIA GUIDE NOW AVAILABLE
October 28, 2013 2013-14 MEN'S BASKETBALL SEASON OUTLOOK
October 17, 2013 BIG SKY MEN’S BASKETBALL COACHES AND MEDIA PRESEASON POLLS RELEASED
September 24, 2013 MEN’S BASKETBALL SEASON COMING FAST, FIRST OFFICIAL PRACTICE ON FRIDAY
July 23, 2013 MEN’S BASKETBALL RELEASES ITS 2013-14 SCHEDULE