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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 9, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Walkup Skydome (7,300) -- Flagstaff, Arizona. Television: None. Home Record: Sacramento 3-1, NAU 2-1. Away Record: Sacramento 1-6, NAU 2-6. Neutral Record: Sacramento 0-0, NAU 0-2. Conference Record: Sacramento 0-2, NAU 1-1. Series Record: Northern Arizona leads, 32-10.
GAME NOTES: Playing in front of the hometown crowd for just the fourth time this season, the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks prepare for the arrival of Big Sky Conference foe Sacramento State on Thursday in Flagstaff.
The Lumberjacks, winners of just four games in 13 tries, are back home after a three-game road swing that saw them defeat Montana (73-65) in the middle outing, but fall to top-ranked Arizona (77-44) to start out and then suffer a 68-66 setback to Montana State over the weekend.
As for the Hornets, they too have a total of just four victories thus far and only two of those have come against Division I foes. The last triumph was a 69-67 final versus UC Riverside near the end of December, with defeats against Montana State and Montana following to kick off the new calendar year.
NAU owns a commanding 32-10 advantage in the all-time series, winning the most recent meeting by just a single point (62-61) last February.
The Hornets were paced by Zach Mills with 14 points, Mikh McKinney 11 and Jordan Salley 10 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench as the Hornets took the loss against Montana over the weekend. Sacramento State scored a mere 27 points in the first half of the meeting, but battled back after the break to make it competitive as the squad shot 50.0 percent from the field for the entire game, although an 11-of-18 showing at the free-throw line did not help matters.
McKinney paces the Hornets in scoring through 11 games with his 13.5 ppg, although his 29.8 percent effort behind the 3-point line is definitely lacking. Dylan Garrity checks in with another 11.8 ppg, the only other double- digit scorer for the program, while the pair combines for 67 of the unit's 133 assists. Garrity is also one of the more reliable perimeter shooters for the Hornets with a team-best 25 conversions on 59 attempts.
In a game that featured eight ties and 10 lead changes, the 'Jacks fell behind by as many as 10 points in the first half against Montana State on Saturday, but managed to create a 14-point swing over the course of five minutes before suffering the two-point loss. Aaseem Dixon scored a team-best 18 points and handed out five assists for the visitors, followed by Gaellan Bewernick with 15 points. Quinton Upshur pitched in with 11 points and three blocks, while Kris Yanku tallied 10 points in 17 minutes off the bench.
NAU is being held to just 65.5 ppg, so it is understandable to find just three double-digit scorers on the roster in Upshur (14.1 ppg), Max Jacobsen (13.7 ppg) and Dixon (12.8 ppg). Upshur and Dixon provide the program with a decent perimeter presence on offense, combining to make 53 of the unit's 75 3-point baskets, but both players are converting less than 41 percent of their field goal attempts at the moment.
Both of these teams are struggling. Combine the fact that the Hornets have been disappointing on the road and NAU is dying to perform in front of a favorable crowd, this has all the markings of a victory for the home team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Arizona 68, Sacramento State 65
01/09 10:34:13 ET
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