GAME NOTES: The Aggies of Utah State try to get back on track tonight, as they host the New Mexico Lobos in Mountain West Conference action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
On Saturday night, the Aggies entertained seventh-ranked San Diego State and fought the Aztecs into overtime before suffering the 74-69 setback. The loss was the third in a row and the fourth in five games for a USU squad which is now 10-2 at home and just 2-5 in conference play, placing them near the bottom of the MWC standings.
As for the Lobos, currently holding down the second spot in the MWC with a mark of 6-1, they managed to sneak by Colorado State in Fort Collins three days ago in a 68-66 decision. The win was the third straight and the eighth in nine tries for the group.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Aggies own a commanding 19-4 advantage, but the team's have not met since the 1979-80 campaign when USU demolished the Lobos in Albuquerque by a final of 117-83. Prior to that, the last clash was back in 1962.
The Lobos dodged a bullet on Saturday as they narrowly pulled out the two- point win against Colorado State at Moby Arena. Kendall Williams showed why he should still be considered one of the top performers in the conference as he tallied 23 points, shooting 5-of-10 behind the 3-point line, and handed out five assists. Cameron Bairstow pitched in with 19 points and six rebounds as the team played without center Alex Kirk who was dealing with a foot injury.
Listed as questionable for tonight's outing, Kirk is the third-leading scorer for the Lobos with 14.0 ppg but, more importantly, is the top rebounder with close to nine boards per contest. Add to that his 52 blocked shots, the rest of the team producing a combined 50, and it is hard to get by without Kirk in the paint. Nevertheless, Bairstow (20.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Williams (18.1 ppg, 104 assists) will do their best to make it happen if the big man is still left on the bench to play spectator.
As one of the more successful home teams in the last decade across Division I, the Aggies were not about to back down from San Diego State on Saturday night, even though the Aztecs possess one of the top defenses in the nation. The game included eight ties and 16 lead changes and unfortunately for USU, the hosts came out on the short end of the five-point decision. Spencer Butterfield came away with 19 points and eight rebounds before fouling out, followed by Jalen Moore and Preston Medlin with 16 and 12 points, respectively.
There were two telling stats from the weekend meeting, as Utah State was charged with 17 turnovers, compared to only six for SDSU, and the hosts also were outscored by a 20-2 margin at the free-throw line.
Jarred Shaw, who had just as many turnovers (four) as he had points against the Aztecs before fouling out, is still the leading scorer for the program overall with 15.2 ppg, and he is second with 7.8 rpg. Butterfield (13.6 ppg) and Medlin (13.1 ppg) combine with Shaw to account for a huge portion of the unit's 72.1 ppg, as the group shoots a solid 47.2 percent from the floor and an impressive 41.3 percent beyond the arc.
With as wild as the crowd was for the Aggies versus San Diego State, it might be hard for the fans to get juiced up again so quickly for another formidable opponent. However, if Kirk is not on the floor for UNM, the Aggies definitely have a shot.
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