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Utah State basketball faces tough game prep for Denver

Published February 12, 2013 2:24 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There's no one way to beat the Princeton offense, Stew Morrill knows. Sometimes, you can do a few things right and not win.

"It's more than multiple," Morrill joked during his Tuesday press conference. "Keep going."

Utah State knows all to well the pitfalls of going against a well-engineered Princeton offense, and the Aggies are going to have to be better prepared against Denver than they were last time.

To be fair, it was Utah State's first game without Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed. But on Jan. 19, the Pioneers ran over the Aggies with three-point shooting and turnover-less, efficient basketball. On defense, they frustrated the Aggies into 17 takeaways while only giving up the ball themselves three times.

Put it this way: That game isn't going to be on USU's season highlight tape.

"They give you fits defensively ... no one really seems to know what their rules are," Morrill said. "Last time we played them, they basically carved us up."

At least this time, Utah State has the benefit of having a long week to prepare for the complexities of Denver's system, and they'll be at home for Valentine's Day. But the Princeton system is nearly impossible to simulate, all the more because Utah State has to have team managers playing on the scout team due to lack of depth.

Morrill acknowledges there are times when the Princeton makes him scratch his head. A well-oiled unit like the Pioneers has responses to almost every defensive adjustment that still allows them to get open jumpers or easy cut-ins for layups.

In their last meeting, Denver showed a particular propensity for squeezing out the clock for the last shot - the Pioneers play one of the slowest paces in the country.

It's also tough to pinpoint one main threat. Four players average between 12.5 points and 9.7 points per game. Four starters shoot better than 34.4 percent from 3-point range.

It's a puzzle, Morrill said. And it's one he seemed not particularly eager to be tackling again.

"[Denver coach] Joe Scott is in the Princeton inner circle," Morrill said. "You don't see those guys running clinics and giving away their secrets."

- Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon