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College basketball: Utah State back on winning track, with Boise State up next

Published February 7, 2014 8:30 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

On Thursday morning, Preston Medlin woke up refreshed.

Winning helps a lot of things, his coach said earlier in the week. Even tossing and turning.

"It's a lot better after you win, you even sleep a lot better," he said. "It's a nice change."

The first battle in the Aggies' effort to turn around their season went the right way as Utah State (13-9, 3-7) kicked off the second half of Mountain West play with a victory over Nevada. But the team is looking for something they haven't yet gotten together in their new conference: a winning streak.

On Saturday afternoon, they'll have as good a shot as ever of stringing together some wins: The last game between the two went down to the wire, and the Aggies were in position to top the Broncos in the final minute.

That was, before Derrick Marks went off.

"We were in a position where we could have won it, and we just didn't quite get it done," coach Stew Morrill said. "They made a few more plays than we did. Marks took the game over a little bit and there you go. That one's water under the bridge."

The last loss to Boise State was the start of an 0-5 stretch that Utah State just put to bed earlier this week. The Aggies aren't eager to get started down the same path.

Boise State is similarly trying to distance itself from some frustration as well. The Broncos have lost back-to-back games, the last a shocker against San Diego State. The Aztecs came back from a 14-point second-half deficit for a game-winning 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left.

Utah State knows Boise State will be motivated to come back strong. Morrill hoped that the Aggies will be bringing some extra confidence out of their latest success.

"They have good players and are well-coached," he said. "It'll be a challenging game; hopefully we feel better about ourselves, little more confidence after the other night because we're going to need to play well."

Utah State will need to do a few things well to top Boise — one of which is stopping Marks. The Aggies couldn't stop him in the second-half last timeout, and the help defense was lacking. Utah State has taken time to study the Broncos' screens and handoffs, and the Aggies' forwards will have to step out to the perimeter to prevent penetration and open 3-pointers.

The Aggies' own offensive execution was strong last time out against Boise State as Jarred Shaw had stretches of dominating in the post. Utah State had success driving in on Nevada earlier in the week and will likely look to do it again Saturday to win in the paint and at the line.

"We've got to stay aggressive and seek good shots, Medlin said. —

Boise Stateat Utah State

O Dee Glen Smith Spectrum

Tipoff • 4 p.m.

TV • CBS Sports Network

Radio •Â 1280 AM

Records • USU (13-9, 3-7); BSU (15-8, 5-5)

Series history • USU leads, 28-9

Last meeting • Jan. 18, 2014 at BSU; BSU 78-74

About the Aggies • Utah State is looking to get back to beating the Broncos, having won six straight against Boise State before falling earlier this year.

About the Broncos •Â Coming off a game in which it nearly upset No. 5 San Diego State but gave up a 24-8 run in the last 13 minutes of the game to fall.