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Aggies hungry to end skid
Men’s basketball » Slumping USU set to host New Mexico.
First Published Jan 27 2014 11:30 pm • Last Updated Jan 28 2014 09:01 pm

There’s no lingering on a loss in Logan.

Ben Clifford said Utah State basketball has a mantra: "Win our next game." Move on. Play another.

At a glance

New Mexico at Utah State

Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, Logan

Tipoff » 9 p.m.

TV » ESPNU

Radio » 1280 AM

Records » USU 12-5, 2-5; UNM 15-4, 6-1

Series history » Utah State leads 19-4

Last meeting » Dec. 29, 1979, USU 117, UNM 83

About the Aggies » Utah State is looking for a home conference win after losing its past three Mountain West games. … Three Aggies are in the national top 25 for assist-to-turnover ratio: TeNale Roland (No. 8, 3.47), Preston Medlin (No. 11, 3.25) and Marcel Davis (No. 21, 2.90). … After making half of its 3-pointers against San Diego State, Utah State sits at No. 6 in the country in 3-point percentage (41.3 percent).

About the Lobos » Kendall Williams recently became one of two Mountain West players ever to score 1,500 points, dish more than 500 assists and grab more than 150 steals, joining BYU’s Jimmer Fredette. … New Mexico has won all 13 games in which it has led at halftime. … The Lobos have won their first four games on the road, and will be going for the program’s best conference road start since 1978.

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That’s not to say that the Aggies (12-7, 2-5) aren’t even more hungry to find a way to break the three-game losing streak they’re stuck in. Coming off an overtime defeat to the now-No. 5-ranked team in the nation, Utah State is feeling closer and maybe more desperate than ever to get a W.

"We just need to get a team win," Spencer Butterfield said. "It doesn’t matter who steps up, or where it comes from. We need to come together."

The Aggies have a tight turnaround into Tuesday’s game against New Mexico (15-4, 6-1) against some of the most talented players in the conference. When the Lobos are fully healthy, they have arguably the best triple-threat in the league: athletic guard Kendall Williams, skilled big man Alex Kirk and do-it-all forward Cameron Bairstow.

Kirk missed last weeks’ game against Colorado State, but the Lobos still managed to edge out the Rams on the road. Williams was last year’s conference player of the year, while Bairstow is gaining traction to earn the award this year by scoring 20 points per game.

Whether Kirk is ready to go or not, the Aggies are expecting one of the season’s hardest games.

"[Their win against Colorado State] gives you an idea of their talent level," coach Stew Morrill said. "They look a little different when he’s not out there. If he’s out there, they’re extremely big. When he’s not out there, they’re still really good, but just not as big."

Utah State itself is waiting for one of its own to get healthy: sophomore forward Kyle Davis. The team’s leading rebounder has missed two games since dislocating his kneecap at Boise State, both defeats.

Morrill seemed to hint Monday that the Aggies may miss him on Tuesday, saying he may not return "for a little bit still," but adding that he was able to practice Monday.


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But Utah State won’t look for excuses against the Lobos. The Aggies showed improvement rebounding the ball Saturday night against one of the better rebounding teams in the country. With Davis out, Jalen Moore, Danny Berger Clifford — all hovering under or near 200 pounds — have been tapped to work harder on the glass.

Since being outrebounded by 15 against UNLV, that has become more personal.

"For the first time in a few games, we weren’t outrebounded," Clifford said. "Going into SDSU, we knew that wasn’t what Utah State basketball is about. That UNLV game put a fire into our bellies."

Moving forward, the Aggies know that they need to win at home, especially given their road struggles to date. While they couldn’t close out against the Aztecs, facing the Lobos three nights later offers a chance to get the kind of victory they’ve been hard-pressed to eke out.

"We can’t do anything about the ones that slipped away," Morrill said. "We have to go play and have some energy and go compete, and I think we will."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



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