Logan • Utah State hasn’t faced struggles like this in more than a decade. And it doesn’t get any easier as the Aggies face an unforgiving conference schedule.
Thursday’s matchup against Hawaii at the Spectrum presents another imposing frontcourt, offering coach Stew Morrill’s crew another fresh batch of problems.
Hawaii at Utah StateAt the Spectrum (Logan)
Tipoff » 7 p.m.
TV » Altitude
Radio » 97.5 FM
Records » Hawaii 11-8, 3-2; Utah State 10-10, 2-3
Series » Utah State leads 12-4
Last meeting » Utah State, 89-84 (Jan. 29, 2011)
About the Warriors » Former Utah guard Jace Tavita is sitting out as a transfer. … Zane Johnson ranks as one of the top shooters in the WAC. … Hawaii has wins this season over Xavier and Clemson. … The Warriors are the only team in the league to beat New Mexico State this season. … Gib Arnold is in his second season as Hawaii’s coach.
About the Aggies » Utah State has lost two consecutive games. … The Aggies have recorded a 10-game winning streak in each of the last two seasons. ... USU’s record of 12 straight 23-win seasons is in jeopardy. … The Aggies are 9-2 this season when leading at the half.
The Aggies will once again have a difficult time scoring with a hobbled Morgan Grim, and Kyisean Reed’s inconsistency. Brockeith Pane and Preston Medlin remain USU’s only two reliable threats.
"It’s going to be like playing Nevada and New Mexico State," Morrill said. "They have that kind of size and talent. They have Zane Johnson, who is a premier shooter. They have the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league as well."
Utah State is 10-10, 2-3 in Western Athletic Conference play. With Nevada coming up on the road next week, this weekend’s two home games have become important.
At this point, it’s unlikely and almost impossible for USU to win the WAC, or even finish second. But positioning themselves for the league tournament in just over a month is a priority if the Aggies hope for a miracle run.
The Aggies expect to see a zone defense from the Warriors, as well as a box-and one defense that will center on Medlin. If they can’t negotiate that and have guys miss open looks, offense could continue being a problem for USU.
"Right now, we’re an average team," Morrill said. "What we have to try to do is become better than average. We have nine league games left, 11 overall, and these are the games that we can do something about."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.