It figured that someone who grew up watching the Kings would christen Golden 1 Center on Monday night.
UC Davis senior guard Darius Graham, a former Sacramento High School standout, made the first basket in the first men’s college basketball game at the Kings’ new home – a 3-pointer from the left side 10 seconds into the Aggies’ 115th meeting with Sacramento State.
“It was crazy looking back at it,” said Graham, who finished with 10 points and four assists in the Aggies’ 81-72 Causeway Cup win. “I wasn’t really thinking about it much during the game. Now looking back on it, the first college game… it goes down in the record books. I can always tell my grandkids.”
UCD senior forward J.T. Adenrele, who played at Oakmont High School, also said the game was special for him.
“It was big for me,” saud Adenrele, who had 10 points and five rebounds. “Going back to my high school years and playing at Arco, that was big for me. Coming back here and playing at the Golden 1 Center was almost the same feeling. Excitement, nerves, all that stuff. I’m glad we got the win.”
Graham and Adenrele were among five Aggies in double figures. Senior guard Brynton Lemar led the way with a career-high 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Junior forward Chima Moneke added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and freshman forward Mikey Henn had 13 points and six rebounds.
The Aggies shot 50.0 percent (29 of 58).
“There are a lot of places we can go to get productivity,” UCD coach Jim Les said. “They really enjoy playing with each other. Brynton got the hot hand, and I thought everybody ramped up their ability to screen for him.”
Grant Dressler topped Sac State with a career- high 15 points, Nick Hornsby added 14, and Justin Strings and Marcus Graves scored 12 apiece. But the Hornets shot just 37.3 percent (25 of 67).
In a back-and-forth first half, the lead changed hands eight times and the score was tied four times. Graham’s 3-pointer at the buzzer put the Aggies up 36-34.
UCD never relinquished that lead in the second half as Lemar scored 14 consecutive points at one point.
“We challenged our team at halftime,” Les said. “I thought (Sac State) had some second-chance points and got some 50-50 balls. But these guys responded by ramping up their physicality and their intensity.”
By the end of the game, the lower bowl was nearly filled as fans streamed in for the nightcap between Cal and San Diego State. The announced attendance was 10,104.
Sac State coach Brian Katz said playing at Golden 1 Center was a tremendous experience for his players, the fans and the community.
“I don’t think we could do anything better in terms of perception, recruiting, the excitement, the whole thing. It’s tremendous,” he said after the first of four annual meetings between the teams at the new facility.
UC Davis (4-1), which has won four in a row, will head to Anchorage, Alaska, to play defending Big Sky Conference champion Weber State in the opening round of the Great Alaska Shootout on Thursday.
Sac State (1-3) also will be on the road this week, at the Eastern Washington tournament. The Hornets face USF on Saturday and Denver on Sunday in Cheney, Wash.