Logan • Four games into the season, Utah State is undefeated and has wins over Pac-12 and SEC opponents.
Here comes the hard part.
The Aggies (4-0) face in-state opponents Weber State and BYU this week away from the friendly atmosphere of the Spectrum. Starting with the Wildcats (0-2) on Tuesday night in Ogden, Utah State should be facing the toughest games of its nonconference schedule.
"In-state games are always tough," coach Stew Morrill said. "I grew up in this state, and have a great appreciation for the basketball here. It's been a good basketball state for a long time. These two games should have a special meaning to our players."
Weber State is not just a rivalry but familial warfare, as far as Morrill is concerned. Former Aggies assistant Randy Rahe has coached the Wildcats for the last eight seasons, and the years that have gone by hasn't made it easier for Morrill to take on his longtime staffer, he said.
"Coach Rahe is his own man, and he always gives me too much credit," Morrill said. "I love him to death, I respect the heck out of him as a coach. His teams will guard the heck out of you, they're going to rebound. I'm looking forward to seeing him tomorrow, but not looking forward to coaching against him. It's always hard when it's family."
The biggest challenge, however, won't be overcoming feelings when Utah State visits the Dee Events Center.
The preseason pick to win the Big Sky Conference, Weber State is as talented as ever, despite having lost its first two games. Center Kyle Tresnak and forward Joel Bolomboy form a formidable frontcourt tandem, and guard Davion Berry is leading four double-digit scorers with 17.5 points per game.
Last year, Utah State managed to edge the Wildcats in an ugly 65-55 game, but the Aggies are only 1-2 in their last three visits to Weber State. Also, the Wildcats have had 10 days between games to prepare.
Utah State's own offense will look to be the winning factor again. The team has averaged 81.5 points per game with a 13-plus average rebounding margin. With Preston Medlin, Jarred Shaw and Spencer Butterfield, the Aggies have three double-digit scorers who can attack the basket in different ways. Three-point shots have also been big, as the squad is shooting at a 46.6 percent clip from beyond the arc.
Still, Morrill said his team won't get cocky going against a foe it is very familiar with.
"It's not like you're walking in against a team that's not picked to be very good," he said. "We're walking on their court against the best team in the Big Sky."
Utah State at Weber State
P Dee Events Center, Ogden
Tipoff • 7:30 p.m.
Radio •Â 1280 AM The Zone
Records • Utah State (4-0); Weber State (0-2)
Series history • USU leads 39-26
Last meeting • Nov. 24, 2012 at USU; USU 65, WSU 55
About the Aggies • Utah State is shooting 46.6 percent from three-point range, good for No. 6 in the country. â¦ The Aggies added points this week in the USA Today/Coaches Poll with five points, which ranks them at No. 42. â¦ Stew Morrill will be coaching in his 500th game for Utah State on Tuesday night, and is 370-129 in his 15th season.
About the Wildcats • Weber State has four double-digit scorers led by Davion Berry, who averages 17.5 points per game. â¦ The Wildcats have already faced two future Utah State opponents in BYU and Colorado State, falling to both. â¦ Weber State head coach Randy Rahe, Stew Morrill's assistant for 13 seasons, is 2-6 against his old mentor with both wins coming at the Dee Events Center.