GAME NOTES: Out on the road where they've won just three times this season, the Sacramento State Hornets try to put together a positive effort at Reed Gym tonight as they clash with the Idaho State Bengals in a Big Sky Conference showdown.
The Hornets enter the weekend as one of four teams tied for fifth place in the conference standings with a record of 9-8, which means there is plenty of movement yet to come before the conference tournament begins. Sacramento State had been enjoying a three-game win streak until meeting up with Weber State two nights ago in Utah and suffering a 79-67 loss.
While the Hornets still have a chance to advance in the standings rather dramatically, the Bengals are currently next-to-last in the Big Sky with a record of 7-10 and would need a lot of help to dig out from those depths. Working against Idaho State is a three-game win streak that it rode out the month of February on, losing to Northern Arizona at home by just a single point on Thursday night, 66-65.
The Bengals, who won the first meeting of the season with the Hornets in late January by a score of 84-78 on the road in California, own a 26-16 advantage in the all-time series.
Mikh McKinney came away with 21 points, shooting 8-of-16 from the floor, and nine of his team's 12 assists, but clearly he did not get the support needed in order to get the Hornets over the hump at Weber State a few nights back. The only other player to score in double figures was Eric Stuteville who did so with 18 points, adding eight rebounds, off the bench.
One of four players to have started all 17 conference games for the Hornets this season, McKinney is shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and 80.2 percent at the free-throw line as he generates 17.5 ppg. More than just a scorer though, McKinney is also responsible for 4.0 rpg and a team-best 88 assists. Second in the passing department is Dylan Garrity with 66 assists, posting 12.4 ppg as well.
Trailing by as many as 13 with under eight minutes to play in the second half against visiting NAU, the Bengals gave it a good effort down the stretch but came up just a point short Thursday night at home. Every starter except for Ayibakuro Preh scored in double figures, beginning with Tomas Sanchez with his 17 points, followed by Andre Hatchett and Chris Hansen with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Jeffrey Solarin registered a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds in the loss.
Taking the lead in the scoring department this season for the Bengals is Hansen as he drops in 16.6 ppg overall, boosting it slightly in conference play to 17.0 ppg as he shoots a shade over 40 percent behind the 3-point line. Sanchez checks in with 15.0 ppg and while he is converting only 39.9 percent of his field goal tries, it might be easier to overlook that aspect of his game given that he has handed out 110 assists thus far.
The center of attention for the Sacramento State offense, as long as McKinney can create quality shots for himself and the defense for the visitors can tighten up, the Hornets have a good shot at a rare road win tonight.
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