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Coaches set to face former teams: Morrill, Eustachy face off in role reversal

assistant sports editor

Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 00:01

Stew Morrill

Delayne Ripplinger

USU head coach Stew Morrill screams during a home game at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Though many current Aggie students may not remember an era before Stew Morrill, there was one. At the helm of that pre-Morrill era was a man named Larry Eustachy, the man who leads Colorado State into the Spectrum on Wednesday to take on Morrill’s struggling squad.

Morril replaced Eustachy in 1999, leaving behind a team he had just won 20 games with: Colorado State. That’s right, there was a time in the ’90s when Morrill was the coach of Colorado State and Eustachy was the coach of Utah State. They will face each other Wednesday in reversed roles.

USU is coming off a 62-54 loss to Nevada in Reno on Saturday. With the loss, the Aggies are 1-2 in Mountain West play. Colorado State is 2-2 in conference play this season, its only losses to perennial Mountain West powers San Diego State and New Mexico. The Rams are also coming off a 76-57 win over Fresno State.

In the loss in Reno, the Aggies shot just 31.3 percent from the field, including going 2-of-16 from behind the arc.

“This might be the time that he really wants to come back,” said Morrill about Eustachy’s return to Logan. “I mean, he’ll look at this team and think, ‘Wow we can beat these guys.’”

Colorado State made the NCAA Tournament last year and won a game in the first round. The Rams are 11-6 with three of those losses coming to ranked teams.

“Larry’s teams are always physical. They always rebound the heck out of the ball. They knock you around, and if we cow-tow and just wilt, it will be a long night,” Morrill said. “We’ve got to buck up and know that that is an issue right now and do the things we need to do.”

Colorado State is lead by junior forward J.J. Avila, who is averaging 18.6 points per game, and junior guard Daniel Bejarano, who is averaging 15.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Avila is playing in his first season with CSU after transferring from Navy.

USU has only lost one game in the Spectrum this season and have won nine. They are struggling on the road, posting a 2-3 record.

This is Colorado State’s third road game in 11 days. However, CSU has won its last two games. This will also be the first time Larry Eustachy has faced USU in his 23-year career.

The key to the game will be shooting for the Aggies. They are coming off their worst 3-point shooting outing of the season, shooting just 12 percent. The team usually shoots 41 percent from three.

They also average a 48 percent field goal percentage on the season and are coming off a game when they shot 31.3 percent.

Rebounding will also be a large factor in the game. Both teams have out-rebounded opponents this year, USU by an average 11.4 and CSU by an average of 5.7.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Twitter: @dahdahusu 

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