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Aggieville: USU Sports
Steve Luhm and Lya Wodraska
Steve Luhm and Lya Wodraska cover Utah State athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. Lya Wodraska is on twitter at @LyaWodraska, Steve Luhm is on twitter at @sluhm

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Utah State's Jarred Shaw falls backwards while being guarded by New Mexico's Nick Banyard (23) and Obij Aget during an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/Herald Journal, John Zsiray)
Utah State notebook — Kyle Davis solid in return, plus more

I thought I'd add a few extra notes on the game last night and to supplement the Tribune's follow-up story, including some personnel adjustments and additions that probably turned a few heads.

Kyle Davis solid in return

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Going into Tuesday's game, Stew Morrill had suggested it would be "a little bit" before Kyle Davis returned. And it was.

Maybe about 8 minutes or so.

The sophomore forward didn't start, but he did make his presence felt. In 19 minutes, he put in 10 points, five rebounds, two blocks and a pair of assists. He was also perfect from the free throw line, which has been rare for him this year. His post presence - his first appearance since Jan. 18 - helped the Aggies pick up in the second half.

"Coming out of halftime, Jarred and Kyle had some momentum and got some easy shots," Preston Medlin said. "Some of their guys weren't getting as much into the post, so they took advantage of that."

He had trouble guarding Cameron Bairstow, but so did everyone on the team. Morrill said in his postgame comments to KVNU that he didn't expect Davis to play the minutes he did, "but he kept doing good things."

There is still pain in his knee, Davis said, but it subsided a bit once he was playing more.

"It felt good to be back out there and playing," he said. "It was a little painful at the beginning, but it started feeling better as we went on."

Viko Noma'aea in, Marcel Davis out

For the first time this season, sophomore point guard Marcel Davis didn't play.

Instead, the Aggies opted for freshman Viko Noma'aea to step in. The Vegas native only got seven minutes, shooting only his second career field goal and knocking down a free throw. He didn't have an assist, but also didn't turn the ball over.

Morrill said he was pleased with Noma'aea's first half effort, but had to pull him in the second half when he showed trouble guarding the Lobos - something Morrill acknowledged the whole team struggled with.

"Second half he couldn't guard them," he said. "Drove by him all the time. We have a really hard time guarding them off the bounce."

Morrill didn't say Wednesday why Davis was pulled from the rotation or if he would return to it soon. Davis has struggled this season averaging 3.9 points and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 38.7 percent from the field, numbers which are down across the board.

Defensive rebounding an issue

One common trait through Utah State's losses has been how opponents have been crashing the offensive boards. What was once one of the Aggies' core strengths has weakened in the last four games.

Utah State has a season defensive rebounding rate of 72.4, which is the fourth-best mark in the Mountain West. In conference play, however, that rate has dropped dramatically to 66.9 percent, which is No. 9 in the Mountain West.

The past four games have not helped. Boise State had a 41.2 percent offensive rebounding rate against USU, UNLV was 30.8 percent, San Diego State was 38.9 percent, New Mexico was 38.7 percent. In three of the four games, the opponent got an offensive rebound on more than one third of all opportunities.

Granted that all of those teams are within the top 107 offensive rebounding teams in the country, but the Aggies have definitely slipped at protecting the defensive glass - somewhat unusual considering Utah State is also one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the conference.

— Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



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