Long before he had his own locker in the Spectrum, Jalen Moore was just a fan.
He went with his father to Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho, to watch Utah State take on Marquette in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament. To this day, watching the Aggies take the Golden Eagles to the brink is one of his strongest memories, one of his favorite memories, too.
USU in Mountain West tourneyUtah State vs. Colorado State/Wyoming loser*, Wednesday, 1 p.m., Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
* Teams play Saturday at 2 p.m. MST
Now he’s a bit taller, his hair is a lot bushier, and Moore will play a role in any success Utah State has this March. That starts Wednesday at the Mountain West Tournament.
"It means a lot to be in this position," he said. "Usually, I’ve been the guy watching at home. It’s crazy to be a part of March Madness."
Moore said a lower back injury he suffered against San Jose State should be good to go for the first round at Thomas & Mack Center. Moore said it bothered him more against Wyoming, when he played only four minutes.
The physicality at the college level has been the biggest challenge for Moore, who carries only 190 pounds on his 6-foot-8 frame.
"There’s just better athletes," he said. "I’ve been trying to adjust to that. The biggest thing is the quickness of the game, so you have to prepare."
The Aggies will get a chance Saturday to watch their first-round opponent — either Colorado State or Wyoming. The loser of that game will play Utah State at 1 p.m. Wednesday to kick off the men’s tournament. The Aggies swept the Rams, and they beat Wyoming this week as the Cowboys were without injured Larry Nance Jr.
Moore said the team doesn’t have a preference who it faces.
"They’re both really good teams," he said. "I think either is a nice matchup. We know those teams pretty well. I guess with Colorado State, it’s hard to beat a team three times, but we wouldn’t prefer one team over the other."
Keeping up the stats
While the season has been a bit up-and-down for the Aggies, some of their statistical hallmarks been fairly consistent throughout the year.
Nationally, Utah State is still the third-best 3-point shooting team in the nation, holding relatively steady at 40.7 percent. Passing the ball is also a strength: The Aggies are 11th in assists per game with 16.3, and their assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.48 is No. 12 in the country.
A plus-20 rebound performance against Wyoming helped Utah State in its rebounding statistics for the year: The team has a plus-6.5 average for the year, which is good for No. 15 in the country.
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