LOGAN – Head coach Stew Morrill said Saturday night’s overtime loss in Las Vegas was “about as tough as it gets,” but the Aggies don’t have much time to think about it with Wyoming coming to town. At 6-1 the Cowboys are currently the top team in the conference and will visit the Spectrum Tuesday night for a game that Morrill hopes will draw a big crowd.
“These are the games everybody wanted in the Mountain West Conference, so here they are. Let’s rally,” he said. “The home courts you find in this league are exceptional and when ours is at its best it’s exceptional.”
Morrill said getting the team mentally prepared after the tough loss and quick turnaround will be as big a factor as anything else. Junior guard Darius Perkins said this game will be a chance for the Aggies to redeem themselves.
“We can’t hang our heads,” Perkins said. “We’ve got a big one Tuesday.”
The Cowboys come into Logan with a 17-3 overall record. Their only conference loss came January 14 against preseason conference favorite San Diego State in Laramie. Wyoming is led by senior forward Larry Nance Jr. who has averaged 20.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in conference games this year. Morrill described him as being athletic, smart and “probably a pro.”
“When you talk about Wyoming it starts with Nance,” Morrill said. “They play through him. He’s a dominant inside guy.”
Playing alongside Nance is junior guard Josh Adams who has contributed another 15.6 points per game in conference play this year.
“Adams is just one of the most aggressive guards I’ve seen in a long time,” Morrill said. “He plays full-tilt. I mean, he thinks he can make every shot. He really looks to take it at you in the open court.”
Wyoming will more than likely be one of the bigger challenges so far this season, but the young Aggie team has already exceeded many expectations. Before the season started they were picked to finish second-to-last in the Mountain West, but right now the team has a 4-3 conference record and Morrill said the team is still getting better.
“All you got to do is look at conference stats compared to overall stats,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of strides. I’m pleased with those guys along those lines. We’re defending pretty well. We are taking care of the ball. We’ve got a lot of different guys who can step up and have pretty good nights.”
Despite the progress, Morrill said that rebounding and free throws continue to haunt the team. The Aggies have been outrebounded by 7.9 rebounds per game this year. They showed improvement Saturday at UNLV, outrebounding the Rebels 42-33. The free throw shooting was still a problem. It may have been the biggest factor that cost the game.
“Hopefully we can gain some confidence on the line,” Morrill said. “That’s all it is. It is inexperience and nerves. It’s not the inability to shoot the ball. It is not lack of practice. It is not any of those things. It is just our nerves and our inexperience and hopefully the more games we play the better we’ll get along those lines.”