GAME NOTES: North Dakota hits the road for back-to-back Big Sky Conference bouts, beginning with a meeting against the Sacramento State Hornets tonight in the Golden State.
Even though the team is two games under .500 on the season overall, North Dakota finds itself sitting in a tie for third place in the league standings with Northern Arizona at 8-6, trailing only Weber State and Northern Colorado entering play on Thursday. UND has won two of the last three outings, the latest triumph coming against Montana last Saturday, 74-69.
Meanwhile, the Hornets are a team that have played very well at home this season (8-2), which is good news for the program heading into action tonight. One of five teams tied for fifth place in the Big Sky with a record of 7-7, Sacramento State is coming off a 72-65 victory versus Portland State on the road Saturday, the fifth win in six tries for the squad.
UND owns a slim 3-2 advantage in the all-time series, thanks to an 82-71 victory against the Hornets in Grand Forks in the first meeting of the season last month.
Against Montana at the Sioux Center, North Dakota was guided by Troy Huff who tallied 18 points, adding six rebounds, four steals and three assists in the five-point home victory. Also scoring in double figures was reserve Jaron Nash who accounted for a game-high 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting form the floor off the bench. The team survived a mere 2-of-10 showing behind the 3-point line by forcing 17 turnovers and generating 21 points off those miscues.
Scoring in double figures in all but two games this season, Huff is averaging 19.6 ppg and has produced 15.9 ppg in his career. He now needs just 177 points to reach 2,000 for his career and is already fifth on the school's all-time scoring list. Also scoring in double figures on the season for UND are Nash (11.3 ppg) and Aaron Anderson (10.8 ppg), as the team posts 73.7 ppg.
The Hornets allowed Portland State to make good on an impressive 53.7 percent from the floor, but at the same time the visitors converted a sizzling 61.7 percent from the field in order to capture the road win. Mikh McKinney logged a double-double for Sacramento with 18 points and 11 assists, followed by fellow starters Cody Demps and Dylan Garrity with 16 and 15 points, respectively, the latter coming dangerously close to a dubious double-double as he turned the ball over eight times. Shooting a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, Eric Stuteville dropped in 12 points off the bench.
In conference play, McKinney is the top man in the scoring department with his 16.4 ppg, thanks to 50.6 percent shooting from the floor and 80.3 percent accuracy at the free-throw line. But more than just a scorer, McKinney is also the leader in assists in those 14 games with 67 dishes, against 32 turnovers, while Garrity (13.7 ppg) follows close behind with another 57 assists for the program.
As long as Huff can find some open looks at the basket and create his own scoring opportunities off the glass, expect UND to give the Hornets all they can handle.
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