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BYU basketball: Eleven weeks later, Cougs, Ags ready to rumble

By Jay Drew

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 18 2013 07:14PM
Updated Feb 19, 2013 08:34AM

Provo • As much as their respective fans don’t want to admit it, the BYU and Utah State basketball teams have a lot in common, similarities that go beyond their Navy blue and white jerseys. From the types of players they recruit, to their proud, highly successful coaches and passionate fan bases, the in-state rivals could almost be accused of being joined at the hip.

This year, their seasons are a lot alike as well, only BYU’s key losses due to injury came before the first game, while USU’s came in the middle of the year.

Making up a game that was supposed to be played Dec. 5, but was postponed when USU guard Danny Berger went into cardiac arrest the day before, the Cougars and Aggies will collide on Tuesday night at the Marriott Center, with both teams hoping to continue the momentum garnered last Saturday in key conference wins.

"Both [teams] have good, inside-scoring post players, and pretty good guards," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "I believe that both teams go into every game believing they are going to win, and have been very successful programs. I see a lot of similarities between these teams."

Both coaches — Rose and USU’s Stew Morrill — said Monday that the nonconference game will be just as hotly contested as it would have been last December, and that in-state bragging rights are at stake.

"Same challenges that you always have when you play BYU, especially playing them in Provo," said Morrill. "They always have guys who can really score, they are always extremely well-coached, and we come off a weekend where we played two really good teams in our conference and turn around and travel down there."

BYU (19-8) is pretty much the same team as it was in early December, but USU (18-6) is not, causing Cougar coaches to throw out their pre-Christmas scouting report and start anew on Monday. Guard Preston Medlin and forward Kyisean Reed both suffered season-ending injuries in the second half at New Mexico State, Medlin fracturing his wrist and Reed tearing an ACL in his knee.

After dropping the Jan. 17 NMSU game and the next three, the Aggies have won four of their last five with Spencer Butterfield and Marcel Davis emerging as bigger offensive threats.

"I think we are both on a better track now, and kind of finding ourselves now," BYU’s Brock Zylstra said of both teams. "Everybody is ready to play."

Twitter: @drewjay

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