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Aggies head to California to take on SJSU

sports editor

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 13:02

 

In its final test of a three-game road trip, the Utah State men’s basketball team travels to San Jose State to face the Spartans.

“I think it’s easy to look at them and say, `Wow, they’re having some struggles and all that in terms of wins and losses,” said head coach Stew Morrill. “All you have to do is look at the second half against Idaho and see them have 21 offensive rebounds in the game. Watch our game when we were in a dogfight here and at full strength. The last thing we need to do is think we’re just going to waltz in there and win. We’re not going to waltz in anywhere and win.”

When the Spartans came to Logan on Jan. 11, they were without two key players in leading scorer James Kinney and St. George native Louis Garrett. It was also the last game prior to Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed going down the next week against New Mexico State.

But despite Kinney’s absence and the presence of Medlin and Reed, the Spartans outscored the Aggies 32-22 in the paint and never trailed by more than nine.

“They are very physical right now, they’re athletic,” Morrill said. “They have a number of players who can step up and have big nights, (Chris) Cunningham in the post, (DJ) Brown on the perimeter, they have (Louis) Garrett back. I’m sure they felt like they were rolling along until they had the suspensions and that has affected their team.”

The Spartans have lost seven straight including the loss in Logan and are sitting at 9-13 overall and 3-8 in conference play.

For the Aggies, staying fresh and rested remains a top priority.

“Obviously with our depth issues and the amount of minutes our guys are playing, trying to do everything you can to keep them fresh is very important,” Morrill said.  “The day between games I told them that I’d never practiced shorter in my coaching career. We did the bare minimum between Idaho and Seattle U games. We had some energy. I don’t know if it was because of that, but we had some energy in both games. It was a good weekend for us.”

Jarred Shaw and Spencer Butterfield both rank in the top-10 in conference play in scoring and rebounding for the Aggies.  Shaw is averaging 13.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in WAC action while Butterfield contributes 12.7 points and 7.1 rebounds.

As a team the Aggies lead the conference in rebounding defense, allowing 29.5 rebounds per game to opponents. USU also ranks third in the WAC in 3-point percentage at 37.5 percent.

“We have to play extremely hard, get better offensively, do the things we need to do to keep ourselves in games,” Morrill said.

Utah State is 50-21 all-time against San Jose State in what is the sixth oldest rivalry in school history.

 

– curtislundstrom@gmail.com

Twitter:@CurtisLundstrom

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