Men's Basketball

Opening against No. 13 Gonzaga is no sweat for Sacramento State’s Brian Katz

Sacramento State’s three-game winning streak in season openers is likely to end tonight at No. 13 Gonzaga.

But Hornets men’s basketball coach Brian Katz said it will be a great learning opportunity against the heavily favored Bulldogs in one of two “money” games Sac State is playing this season.

“Now that I’ve been here awhile, I like to open against a high major school because it exposes your warts right now,” said Katz, in his seventh season. “You are going to know what you aren’t good at, and what you need to improve on. And whatever we can do well against Gonzaga, then we’ll know we can probably do that against anybody.”

While the likelihood of an upset is remote – Gonzaga is 45-2 at home the past three seasons – the Hornets may have their best team in school history, and they have produced a couple of major upsets since Katz took over.

Two years ago, Sac State won 74-71 at Utah and in 2009 the Hornets edged Oregon State 65-63 in Corvallis.

But it’s a different story against basketball’s top teams. Since elevating to Division I in 1991-92, the Hornets are 0-13 against ranked teams, including an 86-50 loss last season at No. 22 UCLA.

Sac State is 2-2 all-time against Gonzaga. The Hornets beat the Bulldogs 76-74 in Sacramento in 1971-72 and topped them in Spokane 73-58 a year later. Gonzaga beat the Hornets 66-44 in their last meeting, in 1996 in Spokane, a year after slipping past Sac State 77-72 in overtime in Sacramento.

Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.