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Utah State's Jarred Shaw falls backwards while being guarded by New Mexico's Nick Banyard (23) and Obij Aget during an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/Herald Journal, John Zsiray)
Utah State basketball: Aggies feeling ‘urgency’ to win
Notes » Utah State hoping to boost its aggressiveness.
First Published Jan 30 2014 07:24 pm • Last Updated Mar 24 2014 11:37 pm

Logan • There’s some extra pressure in Utah State basketball practice this week, no surprise considering the four-game losing streak the Aggies are trying to break out of.

But desperation? Tension? These aren’t the words players would use to describe that feeling.

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"There’s definitely a heightened sense of urgency," junior forward Ben Clifford said. "I don’t know if ‘tense’ is the right word. We have a lot of urgency to win. We want to get back on track."

At 2-6 in conference play, Utah State is looking for any way to win right now. Wyoming on the road will be the next test for the Aggies, who feel like there’s still reserves they can tap.

One issue, for example, is the intensity they bring to the floor. In their past four games, Utah State has trailed at halftime. Senior guard TeNale Roland said the team has taken a hard look at themselves and felt at least part of that can be traced to effort.

"We’ve been talking a lot about playing more aggressive, because other teams come out more aggressive than us," Roland said. "We haven’t played a whole game without taking some plays off. In this league, you can’t do that."

The Aggies won’t be the only team looking for some redemption Saturday: The Cowboys are also coming off a loss to Fresno State. Of course, before that, they were on a four-game winning streak.

Players know that going to Arena-Auditorium will be challenging, but they are eager to turn around their slide as soon as possible.

"I think there is a lot of motivation to get out of this losing streak and back on a winning streak right now," senior guard Spencer Butterfield said. "Saturday will be a big game for us."


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Guarding Nance top priority

Fresh off getting dominated by one of the conference’s top post players, the Aggies will be forced to play another Saturday.

Larry Nance Jr., a 6-foot-8 junior forward, has powered the Cowboys with a team-best 16.4 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game and 2.0 blocks per game. One of the leading double-double threats in the Mountain West, he’s got a knack for finishing around the rim: His 55.6 shooting percentage in second in the league.

The Aggies just gave up 22 points to New Mexico big man Cameron Bairstow, and they aren’t eager to let another post run wild on them. But it will be a tough match-up, Clifford said.

"He’s an athletic big who has good hands," he said. "He can move, he can finish around the hoop. A lot of times in their offense, he gets a lot of seals right around the basket. We’re going to have to take that away."

kgoon@sltrib.com



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