LOGAN – It was a good weekend trip to Albuquerque for the Utah State basketball team. The Aggies were able to steal a 63-60 win in The Pit Saturday night, something the New Mexico Lobos rarely allow. As fun as the win was, the team had little time to celebrate before focus was turned to Tuesday night’s game against Nevada in Logan.
Head coach Stew Morrill said his team woke at 4 a.m. Sunday to travel back home. He said Sunday’s travel will limit the team’s preparation to a practice Monday and a shootaround before the game Tuesday.
“When you look at it, it’s so odd that when you play a Tuesday game at home you may have traveled as much or more than team you are playing that is coming to your place,” Morrill said.
After a win like Saturday’s, a home contest against a 7-15 team wouldn’t normally seem too daunting, especially after having already picked up a 16-point win against them on the road, but head coach Stew Morrill won’t let his team look past the Wolfpack.
“They had a poor shooting night when we played them in Reno, so I don’t anticipate that that will happen to that degree,” he said. “I mean, that was a tough night for them shooting the ball, and fortunate enough for us to get a win.”
Morrill said any conference team is capable of beating another. The weekend results all but prove that. Both league-leading teams went down when Air Force picked up a 23-point win over Wyoming Saturday and Boise State beat San Diego State by 15 Sunday. Morrill doesn’t think Nevada is an exception.
“They are dangerous,” he said. “This league is proving that anything can happen any night. Nevada had a shot to beat San Diego State a couple games ago. They just got a nice win at San José.”
A potential concern for USU is rebounding, which has been one the weaknesses for the Aggies all season. It has also been one of Nevada’s strengths.
“The stat that jumps out at you is AJ West has more offensive rebounds in conference play than our entire team,” Morrill said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen something like that 11 games in.”
Morrill said he thinks the Aggies did “OK” handling West when the two teams last met in January, but said USU will have to put more than one guy on him in order to compete.
“He has great timing and great strength,” he said. “He can just move you out of the way. He knows how to get ready to rebound the ball. When he’s one-on-one down there, he’s pretty much unstoppable with his strength and his skill level around the basket.”
The Aggies are tied for sixth place in the conference and are two games behind conference leaders Wyoming and San Diego State. A win against Nevada could help USU close the gap, but Morrill said he isn’t worrying about that.
“We just got to keep playing and get as many wins as we can,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. We’re not talking about the next two, the next five. We never do that. We just try and focus on the next game, and it’s here in a hurry.”