As the competition was elevated, the Sacramento State men’s basketball team stepped its game up with an 85-67 victory over CSU Bakersfield Wednesday.
CSU Bakersfield is the first Division I opponent the Hornets have faced in the 2012-2013 season.
The first-half was close as the Hornets looked to find their rhythm. The team opened up the game 1-6 on field goals, but after a few adjustments in the lineup things settled down.
Junior college transfer Mikh McKinney, who missed his first three shots, was pulled out of the game early due to foul trouble. When he checked back in he seemed to have found his shooting stroke.
McKinney scored six points in the span of a minute toward the end of the half. He led all scorers with 23 points in addition to a perfect 7 for 7 from the free throw line. McKinney’s quickness and aggressive play once again paved the way to a stellar output.
“My mindset is if I start off missing a couple shots I have to remain aggressive because that’s my game,” McKinney said. “I just kept going to what I know best and the game just came to be.”
Sac State went into halftime leading by a slim 6-point margin, but most of it was due to being 4-14 from 3-point range.
The second half was a different story.
The Hornets were able to stop Bakersfield’s main scoring threat Javante Maynor, who scored 18 points in the first-half. Maynor was held in check for all of the second half. He did not score until there were only four minutes left in the game. He finished tied for the game-high 23 points.
Second year point guard Dylan Garrity proved there would be no sophomore slump for him. He scored 14 of his career high 21 points in the second half and he led the team with seven assists.
“Last year I didn’t know what to expect,” Garrity said. “This year I know where everyone is going to be and the game is slowing down so it has become a lot easier.”
With 10 minutes left in the game Bakersfield went over the foul limit, which put Sac State into the bonus. The Hornets hit on 25 free throw attempts in the half and finished better than 80 percent for the game.
Sac State outscored Bakersfield 51-39 to close out the game and cruise to a win.
Head coach Brian Katz said he was happy about the team’s ability to limit turnover and fouls. The Hornets only had 14 personal fouls compared to the opponents 25. They also limited their turnovers to 10 after averaging 12 per game last season.
Sac State also had four players score in double figures. McKinney and Garrity both scored over 20, but senior forward John Dickson had 15 points and junior Jackson Carbajal added 10 more.
The road only gets rougher from here.
On Friday, the Hornets will travel to Salt Lake City to take on Pac-12 opponent Utah. This is considered Sac State’s first real test of the young season.
Joe Davis can be reached on twitter @famousjoe530.