Former Aggies assistant hopes to best Utah State in final meeting
Back in January, Don Verlin was sure he had it: His first victory as a visitor in Logan. Those tend to be rare, even for former Utah State assistants.
But then Preston Medlin took over, hitting a buzzer-beater to force overtime, then setting the pace in the extra period for an Aggies win.
For the crowd at the Spectrum, it will probably be remembered as the most exciting home game of the season. Verlin and his Idaho team were left with one of their most miserable defeats.
"That was very hard on our team," Verlin said of the 82-75 overtime game at the Spectrum on Jan. 5. "It was the first time we played well enough to win. There was never another time we went in there thinking we had a chance to beat them like that trip. My guys played extremely hard."
For Idaho, that loss contributed to another loss, a big slide for the Vandals in WAC play. But Idaho is looking to regain its form at home, behind big center Kyle Barone. And in what might be the last meeting between Stew Morrill and Verlin as opposing head coaches, Verlin is still looking to one up the man he used to work for.
That doesn't mean there isn't some tenderness between the two.
"Even though I try like heck to beat him, I hate to see one team lose to another in that game," Verlin said. "It's tough because we're family. It is what it is."
Morrill, who has an 8-2 edge in the series over the last five seasons, says he's similarly grateful that the bi-annual even is ending on Thursday, excepting the possibility of meeting in the WAC tournament.
"Moscow is a wonderful place, but I have probably been there enough," Morrill said. "I think both [myself and Verlin] would like nothing more than for this to be our last time playing each other."
Idaho has won the last two contests at the Cowan Spectrum. The Vandals will look to vigorously defend their homecout again, especially with the talents of perhaps the WAC's best big man, Kyle Barone.
Barone had a monster two games last week, helping the Vandals beat UTSA in Moscow. He's second in WAC-only scoring and tops in rebounding. But Verlin said he wouldn't be surprised if Morrill, a former big man himself, has a few designs to hold up Barone.
Last game, he was held to 13 points and 10 rebounds in overtime, still below his WAC averages.
"Utah State always does a great job of guarding Kyle," Verlin said. "They do some things to slow him up. I'm sure Stew has a good plan for him."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon