Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - A battle between two Golden State schools takes place tonight, as the Sacramento State Hornets come calling on the UCLA Bruins.
Sacramento State opened the season with a 73-43 rout of UC Santa Cruz, but dropped a 74-66 decision at CSU Bakersfield five days later. The Hornets are hoping to make some noise in the Big Sky Conference this season, and it's games like this that will hopefully have the team better prepared for the rigors of league play, which gets underway at Montana State on Jan. 2, 2014.
UCLA has kicked off the Steve Alford era in fine fashion, winning each of its first two games, both at home, over Drexel (72-67) and Oakland (91-60). The Bruins are in the midst of a five-game homestand to open the season, and won't play their first official road game until traveling to Missouri on Dec. 7. They do have a pair of neutral-site affairs coming up as part of the Las Vegas Invitational on Thanksgiving. UCLA will take on cross-town rival USC in the Pac-12 Conference opener on Jan. 5, 2014.
This bout marks only the second meeting all-time between these two, with the Bruins winning the first at home, 86-56, on Dec. 23, 2005.
Sacramento State's strength in the early going has been it's play at the defensive end of the floor, as opponents are scoring just 58.5 ppg in hitting their field goals just 39 percent of the time. Those same foes are actually shooting better from 3-point range (.424), but have also struggled from the free-throw line (.581). Offensively, the Hornets haven't exactly lit it up, netting 69.5 ppg behind a shooting effort of .476 overall, but only .333 from beyond the arc. Dylan Garrity (16.5 ppg) and Mikh McKinney (12.5 ppg) are the only two double-digit scorers at the moment, and the former adds 4.0 apg and 3.0 rpg to his stat line.
Garrity hit for 22 points, draining 4-of-6 3-point attempts along the way, and McKinney and Cody Demps added 11 and 10 points, respectively, but the Hornets lost at Bakersfield in their second game of the young season. Sacramento State shot just 40.4 percent from the floor, while the hosts were closer to 50 percent (.490), converting 9-of-16 long-range tries (.562) and 17-of-21 free throws (.810).
While obviously very early in the season, and not having faced what most would consider top-flight competition, the Bruins boast five double-digit scorers, each of whom helps the team put up an average of 81.5 ppg. Jordan Adams paces the unit with 19.0 ppg, while the other four net between 10.0 and 13.5 ppg. Kyle Anderson is averaging a double-double with 10 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest, and he also has nearly twice as many assists (13) than his closest teammate (Norman Powell, seven). Defensively, the Bruins are allowing just 63.5 ppg, and they are outshooting the opposition by a wide margin (.492 to .344). They have struggled from long range (.286), but so have their enemies (.229).
Adams hit for 22 points, Tony Parker posted career-highs with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Powell tallied 18 points for the Bruins, who rolled over visiting Oakland last week, winning by 31. UCLA drained 52.5 percent of its total shots, despite missing 16 of its 21 3-point attempts, while the Golden Grizzlies were only 30.8 percent effective overall and 24.0 percent efficient out on the perimeter. The Bruins easily won the rebounding battle (49-28), dominating the paint in scoring as well (46-26).