Northern Colorado (5-12) at Sacramento State (9-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 10:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Nest (1,200) -- Sacramento, California. Television: None. Home Record: Northern Colorado 4-3. Sacramento State 6-2. Away Record: Northern Colorado 1-9, Sacramento State 3-6. Neutral Record: Northern Colorado 0-0, Sacramento State 0-0. Conference Record: Northern Colorado 3-6, Sacramento State 4-4. Series Record: Northern Colorado leads, 9-3.
GAMES NOTES: In a Big Sky Conference brawl at the Nest the Sacramento State Hornets will play host to the Northern Colorado Bears on Saturday night.
Northern Colorado is coming off a tough 67-65 loss to Northern Arizona. The Bears had won back-to-back games before the setback and are now sporting just a 5-12 overall mark that includes a 3-6 ledger against Big Sky foes. Playing on the road has not helped Northern Colorado at all this season with the squad just 1-9 away from Greeley. The Bears return home for back-to-back contests next against Idaho State and Weber State.
A 67-58 win over North Dakota in the first half of this two-game homestand ended a short two-game slide for Sacramento State. The win pushed the Hornets back above .500 on the season (9-8), while leveling their conference record at 4-4. Sacramento State has done a good job of defending the Nest with six wins in eight tries this season. Sacramento State will play on the road against Southern Utah next before a three-game homestand .
A year ago these teams split the season series with the visiting team coming away with a victory in each meeting. Northern Colorado has largely had the upper hand all-time though with a 9-3 mark against Sacramento State.
After Tevin Svihovec nailed a 3-pointer with four seconds remaining it looked like Northern Colorado would be able to force overtime against Northern Arizona. However Michael Dunn was able to get his last second shot to sink the Bears.
Even though its record might say otherwise Northern Colorado has actually been one of the better offensive teams in the Big Sky this season. The Bears rank fourth in the conference in scoring (68.5 ppg) and third in field-goal percentage (.451). Balance keys the offense for Northern Colorado with three players scoring in double figures but none more than Tate Unruh (12.6 ppg). Unruh was held in check against Northern Arizona, managing just seven points leaving it to Svihovec (10.7 ppg) and Derrick Barden (11.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg) to pick up the slack. The duo answered the bell with Svihovec scoring a team-high 16 points, while Barden posted his fourth double-double in the last five games.
A 50-percent shooting effort in the second half, not to mention a 16-3 edge from the free-throw line carried Sacramento State to its win over North Dakota. The Hornets also held a sizable 39-22 edge on the boards which helped make up for its 23-7 deficit in points off turnovers.
Four players scored in double figures in the win, which matches with the Hornets' production this season as a whole. John Dickson (13.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is the top scoring threat among the quartet of Hornets putting up double digit point totals on average. Behind him is Mikh McKinney (12.5 ppg), Dylan Garrity (12.3 ppg, 5.1 apg) and Konner Veteto (11.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg). Garrity has been more than a scorer though with his ability to distribute as he leads the conference in assists. Joe Eberhard (7.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) has been known more for his work on the glass but the 6-foot-6 forward can score when need be as he proved with his team-high 15 points on Thursday. As a team, Sacramento State is just a shade behind Northern Colorado in terms of scoring (67.8 ppg), while managing to be the second best rebounding squad in the conference (37.2 rpg).
The road woes for Northern Colorado have been well documented. That doesn't bode well for the Bears. The Hornets' balanced scoring attack added to what has been a solid homecourt advantage will carry Sacramento State in this contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Sacramento State 69, Northern Colorado 61
01/26 10:32:48 ET