Utah State basketball: Ags seeking defensive answers
Logan • It was hard to swallow on Saturday night, Preston Medlin said.
The way Pacific, a team with seven seniors, cut through Utah State's defense was hard to take. But with the team's first loss at The Spectrum this season in the rearview mirror, Medlin hopes it's what the Aggies needed: a lesson learned, the hard way.
"They're really physical and really experienced, and that's what we needed to face," the senior guard said. "They came in here, showed us how it's done. They beat us. It's a tough loss, but we have to focus on our next game."
Defensive issues have been haunting the team in one way or another since its first exhibition game, in which it gave up 88 points to Central Methodist. But the Aggies' problems on that end have emerged front and center in back-to-back losses to BYU and the Tigers.
Against Pacific, the Aggies were down early after giving up drives into the paint and easy twos, then struggled in the second half to guard the 3-pointers. Studying tape, Medlin said, it's not about the schemes it's about the execution.
"It's not that our technique is wrong, it's just that we're not doing it hard enough or doing it long enough," he said. "We're figuring things out. Coaches are coaching us really hard."
Poor shooting in their last three halves hasn't helped Utah State, which hasn't been as effective in transition and off of misses as the coaching staff would like.
But coach Stew Morrill said after the loss that his players weren't worried enough about the defensive end in general, and the Aggies have spent the week in between games trying to switch their mindsets.
"We're gonna work on our defense and our offensive and defensive rebounding," freshman forward Jalen Moore said. "No middle drives that kind of killed us the other day, as everybody saw. But we're going to work on it."
Moore relishes first start
It wasn't exactly months in the works. Moore only learned he would start for Kyle Davis shortly before playing Pacific. He asked his injured teammate for advice.
"He told me to just contain my energy that I usually have coming off the bench," Moore said. "It's a lot different starting the game than coming in at 13 minutes. He just told me to play physical and be ready. That's what I tried to do."
There's little doubt the Aggies missed Davis' presence, as he's emerged in the last two games as a scoring threat close to the basket and a tireless rebounder. But Moore did his best with his shot, getting eight points, six rebounds and two assists with a block and a steal.
Davis is dealing with knee soreness, which is a day-to-day injury. When he's ready to go, Davis will be back in the starting lineup, and Moore knows it. The freshman said he's not worried about his role.
Still, it was pretty cool to start, he said.
Utah State vs. Utah Valley
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • None.