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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 must regroup after tough start in Mountain West
First Published Feb 02 2014 07:34 pm • Last Updated Feb 02 2014 11:16 pm

Laramie, Wyo. • It was a familiar scene Saturday evening.

The Aggies slipped out from Arena-Auditorium quietly, another road venue that had been the scene of another defeat. The Cowboys dealt Utah State its fifth road loss in Mountain West play, and the fifth straight loss in conference play.

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Having to live it over and over hasn’t made it any easier, either.

"We’re a mess," coach Stew Morrill said. "We can’t play offense, we can’t play defense, we’ve lost our confidence. We’re going to have to have a full flip in the second half to compete in this league."

Utah State (12-9, 2-7) is tied for ninth in the Mountain West, a far cry from where they hoped to be in their first year in the conference. And at the halfway point, it’s hard to know where to start.

At their best, the Aggies have been an offensively efficient team that has sometimes struggled to stop the league’s best athletes. At their worst, they’ve been unable to score, defend or put up much fight in big losses to UNLV and Wyoming.

Inconsistency and a lack of concrete identity has dogged the team so far in the conference, and even the team acknowledges it’s struggled to sort out its issues.

"It’s tough right now," senior guard Preston Medlin said. "We’ve got to find our identity and find what we do."

So far, it’s been tough to determine.

The Aggies are in the bottom half of conference-only statistics in scoring, defense, rebounding margin and turnover margin, among other stats. Morrill has talked about needing a complete game, as his team has put together good shootings games without defending, or good defensive performances without offense.


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The latest adjustments have been to the lineup: The Aggies started Medlin at point guard to bring Kyle Davis and Jalen Moore on the court together. At least against Wyoming, it didn’t have much success.

If there’s a comfort for Utah State, it’s that their second half starts with a pair of games at home to Nevada and Boise State - two teams they were close to topping on the road. In one sense, the midway mark represents a chance to start over, to get out on the right foot and climb back to at least the middle of the standings.

But after another disappointing loss, there is significant concern in Logan. Stuck in their current slide, the Aggies know they can’t repeat the mistakes of the first half of conference play.

"We need to keep fighting on the road, keep finding our identity, and get back to where we were in December and those months," Medlin said. "We’ve can go out and make it it a decent second half or we can make it another miserable one."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



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