Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah State Aggies guard Preston Medlin (13) drives to the basket as Utah State University hosts Colorado State, NCAA basketball, Wednesday January 15, 2014 in Logan.
Aggies face tough stretch
USU basketball » Starting with Boise State, Mountain West challenges loom.
First Published Jan 17 2014 01:02 pm • Last Updated Jan 18 2014 03:48 pm

Logan • Taken in all at once, it can be seen for the gauntlet it is.

At Boise State. At UNLV. Back home for San Diego State and New Mexico.

At a glance

Utah State at Boise State

O Taco Bell Arena, Boise

Tipoff »  Saturday, 7 p.m.

Streaming »  ESPN3

Radio »  1280 AM

Records »  USU (12-4, 2-2); BSU (12-5, 2-2)

Series history »  USU leads, 28-8

Last meeding »  March 3, 2011 in WAC championship; USU 77, BSU 69.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The Utah State basketball team is standing on the precipice of its toughest games stacked back to back. Coach Stew Morrill is as aware of how daunting it will be to face the four teams voted at the top of the conference preseason in a row, so he’s trying to keep his players focused on the game ahead.

"It’s about as tough a stretch as you’re gonna get," he said. "What we need to do is worry about Boise State, and then worry about the next one after that. You worry about them as a whole group, you get a little overwhelmed at what you have to do."

The Aggies (12-4, 2-2) have been overwhelmed already this season on the road, with losses to Air Force and Nevada to start conference play. Those unexpected defeats have shaken them into the realization that the Mountain West will be no cake walk.

With the Broncos (12-5, 2-2) dead ahead, Utah State begins a true walk through the fire. Boise State returns five starters from its NCAA tournament squad last season, and they can put up points in a hurry.

"They’re drivers, so we’re going to have to stop them from driving," freshman forward Jalen Moore said. "We’re going to just try to do what we can to get to their shooters, because they have a lot of guys who can shoot threes. Our post guys are going to have to get used to guarding outside, because a lot of guys can shoot."

Although Utah State returned plenty of veteran talent itself, its effort has been a question mark at times this season.

More than once, Morrill called out his team’s intensity - or lack thereof - on defense. Seniors said practice wasn’t as consistently buzzing as it needed to be.

Those shortcomings, the team says, were reflected particularly in the team’s last loss to Nevada, when Utah State couldn’t nail a shot to save itself. After the 62-54 defeat, a shocked locker room was forced to look hard in the mirror and see that the team wasn’t doing enough to compete in the league.


story continues below
story continues below

"I think that was kind of a stunner," Morrill said. "We knew we were a little bit deadbeat, but they practiced well and with a lot of energy and carried that [into the Colorado State game]."

At least in the short-term, there has been a positive turnaround. Defense helped the Aggies overcome a slow start Wednesday until they found their footing against the Rams. Passing and 3-point shooting continues to be among the group’s best strengths, while the Aggies have masked their weaknesses - turnovers and guarding penetration - with effort.

Will it be enough to compete with the Mountain West’s elite teams? These next two weeks will tell if Utah State can hang, or if there’s a true talent gap between the newcomers and the Aztecs, Lobos and other top squads.

Ahead of the most challenging games it will face, the Aggies still think they have what it takes - as long as they work to their potential.

"Coach Morrill does a good job of stressing that to us," senior guard Preston Medlin said. "We need to play hard every day, we need to play hard every game. It’s a tough league, and anybody can beat anybody. So we just gotta keep fighting, keep playing hard every game."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.