Often for Utah State, December qualifies as the most wonderful time of the year when the Aggies are at home.
Utah State is 78-3 under coach Stew Morrill when taking on opponents at the Spectrum in the last month of the year. But what has the team worried lately is that one of those losses was last week, the second of back-to-back defeats for the team.
Hosting Utah Valley University (4-5) on Saturday night, Utah State (5-2) is seeking a return to its winning ways.
"We've been in a little bit of a funk the last couple games, we're just trying to bounce out of it," Morrill said. "It's a long season, there's always going to be some highs and lows, and we're just trying to get back on track playing good basketball."
The short explanation for the recent dip is defense, or a lack thereof. In USU's two losses, it has allowed BYU and Pacific, respectively, to drive inside and get easy buckets. Rough shooting games haven't helped matters.
Another in-state loss, particularly to UVU, would be just about unthinkable. The Aggies are 8-0 against the Wolverines in series history and have won 28 straight in-state competitions at the Spectrum dating back to 2000.
Still, Morrill said, they won't take the game lightly.
"Sometimes you hear people talk about it isn't as big a game to us as it is to them, and I think that's hogwash," Morrill said. "Especially when we've been in a little bit of a funk, I think an in-state game is an in-state game and that should be just as big to either team."
UVU is coming off its biggest win of the year against in-state foe Weber State, which gave the Aggies a stiff test. The Wolverines bring back leaders in guard Holton Hunsaker and forward Ben Aird, but also have new talent with forwards Zach Nelson, Hayes Garrity and former Utah State player Mitch Bruneel.
The Aggies will have to win the paint against Utah State's size and commitment to rebounding. The Aggies themselves are led by senior center Jarred Shaw in that department, and they hope to return Kyle Davis for the game as well.
Davis is suffering from knee soreness, and the Aggies are evaluating his condition day-to-day. If he's unable to play against the Wolverines, Jalen Moore will start.
Men's basketball Utah Valley at Utah State
O Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, Logan
Tipoff • 7 p.m.
Radio • 1280 AM, 960 AM
Records • USU (5-2), UVU (4-5)
Series history • USU, 8-0
Last meeting •Â Dec. 15, 2012 at UVU; USU 69, UVU 63
About the Aggies • Utah State is hoping to continue a 28-game win streak against in-state opponents at the Spectrum. The last Utah-based team to beat the Aggies at home was BYU in 2000.
About the Wolverines • Utah Valley is playing its first season in the WAC, the league Utah State played in for eight years before joining the Mountain West.