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Utah State basketball: Mountain West is flustering the Aggies

Published January 29, 2014 7:51 pm

College basketball • Utah State not measuring up against Mountain West's elite programs.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • There was a moment when the game seemed close. After the 3-pointer left Preston Medlin's hands well past the 3-point line and sailed in, the Spectrum erupted as New Mexico's lead closed to two points.

It turned out to be the high point Tuesday, one that gave way into a slide back into reality. It's a harsh reality for Utah State, which now finds itself looking up from ninth place in the Mountain West standings.

"That was a big shot, it felt really good," Medlin said. "We got within two and kind of let them just take back over."

During the Aggies' four-game losing streak, there has been a common theme: Utah State has given the conference's best teams a good shot, but has still come up short. USU had a late lead in Boise that it squandered. Last Saturday, the Aggies took No. 7 San Diego State to overtime.

If that effort buoyed the Aggies, it didn't show against the Lobos. The game wasn't that close, and the team seemed overwhelmed. Even a high-effort performance wasn't enough to make up for the gap. And it was never more apparent than when Utah State tried to guard New Mexico's top scorers.

"We have a really hard time guarding them off the bounce," coach Stew Morrill said. "They don't look near as quick as they are. They're really good. That's a really good team."

In Year One of the Mountain West, Utah State has been repeating that refrain over and over after going 2-6 to start league play. They've faced a lot of good teams, and they simply haven't measured up.

Statistics tell the story. In conference play, the team's scoring (64.9 ppg) and shooting percentage (43.5 percent) has gone down while opponents' offensive numbers have gone up. The Aggies also have rebounded less effectively in league play, getting beaten on the glass in five of eight conference games after once cracking the top 10 nationally in rebounding margin before Mountain West play began.

Any dreams of competing at the top of the league all but dried up after the loss to San Diego State. Now, in the wake of the setback against the Lobos, the Aggies are fighting to stay out of the basement.

That fight begins anew Saturday, when the Aggies travel to Laramie for a shot at Wyoming. The Cowboys aren't an elite Mountain West team, but the last few weeks have revealed that Utah State isn't either. At this point, any win will do.

"As a team, we know we can battle back into games," forward Kyle Davis said. "We've done that in our last few games. We just have to figure out how to keep that going and not let them come back on us."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Utah State at Wyoming

O Saturday, 4 p.m.

TV • ROOT Sports —

Sinking in the Mountain West

• The Aggies have lost four straight.

•Â Utah State has yet to win on the road in league play.

•Â Aggies travel to play Wyoming on Saturday. —

New Mexico 78, Utah St. 65

(LATE WEDNESDAY)

NEW MEXICO (16-4)

Greenwood 2-9 1-1 6, K. Williams 5-9 5-7 16, Aget 3-6 1-1 7, Delaney 5-9 0-0 12, Bairstow 7-13 8-9 22, Thomas 1-2 0-0 3, D. Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Neal 4-8 1-1 12, Lindsay 0-0 0-0 0, Banyard 0-3 0-0 0.

Totals 27-59 16-19 78.

UTAH ST. (12-8)

Shaw 6-16 3-3 15, Medlin 5-8 0-0 13, Moore 2-6 2-2 7, Roland 1-5 0-2 3, Butterfield 3-7 2-2 8, Noma'aea 1-1 0-0 3, Berger 2-4 0-0 4, K. Davis 3-5 4-4 10, McGlaston 0-1 0-0 0, Stone 0-1 2-2 2.

Totals 23-54 13-15 65.

Halftime—New Mexico 41-33. 3-Point Goals—New Mexico 8-19 (Neal 3-6, Delaney 2-3, K. Williams 1-2, Thomas 1-2, Greenwood 1-5, Banyard 0-1), Utah St. 6-12 (Medlin 3-5, Noma'aea 1-1, Moore 1-1, Roland 1-3, Berger 0-1, Butterfield 0-1). Fouled Out—Aget. Rebounds—New Mexico 36 (Greenwood 10), Utah St. 30 (Butterfield, Shaw 7). Assists—New Mexico 11 (Greenwood 4), Utah St. 18 (Medlin 9). Total Fouls—New Mexico 16, Utah St. 20. A—9,751.