Logan • The Aggies had some positive news to report about their leading rebounder Monday morning, but they still may be missing him when they travel to Las Vegas to face one of the scrappiest frontcourts in the conference.
Sophomore Kyle Davis should bounce back from injuring his right knee against Boise State on Saturday night. Coach Stew Morrill explained that his kneecap had to be reset after Davis went down with roughly 10 minutes remaining and didn’t return to the game.
Although he is expected to be back on the court, Utah State isn’t yet sure when he might be available. Morrill said Davis wouldn’t practice Monday and may not be able to play against UNLV on Wednesday.
“Obviously that causes some soreness and discomfort, but nothing structural at this point,” he said.
Morrill added that the kneecap injury was unrelated to the knee sprain that caused Davis to miss a game earlier this season.
With a team-leading 8.6 boards per game, Davis would be missed sorely if he could not play against the Rebels. UNLV boasts elite rebounders in Roscoe Smith (12.4 rpg) and Khem Birch (9.6 rpg). By percentage, KenPom.com ranks Davis as one of the most effective rebounders in the nation, No. 20 on offensive boards and No. 53 on defensive boards.
Davis’ absence on the glass was a void against the Broncos. Boise State center Ryan Watkins was able to grab 10 offensive rebounds in the game, and Utah State got only four total rebounds after Davis was injured.
Smith, the No. 1 rebounder in the nation in per-game average, could be even more tenacious than Watkins.
“Very active, very athletic, relentless kind of — more athletic than Watkins, so that’s the good news,” Morrill said. “The one thing is they’re not shooting a great percentage in league, so there are a lot of second shots. But they’re finding a way to gobble them up.”
The odd Mountain West schedule may be taking a bit of a toll on the Aggies, who find themselves with another short turnaround into a game. They leave Tuesday morning to get to Las Vegas.
Morrill talked at length about the disadvantages of flying commercial with a schedule that often has Utah State alternating home and road games. While some teams have moved to charter, Utah State often finds itself having to leave Logan early and return late, which eats up energy and preparation time.
While Morrill stopped short of saying it had been a factor in any of the team’s losses on the road, it certainly hasn’t helped.
Morrill confirmed that senior center Jarred Shaw lost a tooth at Boise State while fighting for a rebound, but it won’t affect his status for Wednesday’s game. ... Morrill will face one of his former assistants this weekend. UNLV coach Dave Rice was an Aggies assistant for the 2004-05 season. ... Freshman Viko Noma’aea will be back in his hometown this week. The 6-foot guard was a two-time all-state honoree at Sierra Vista High in Las Vegas.