GAME NOTES: Utah State tries to bring an end to a four-game slide, as the Aggies mix it up with the Wyoming Cowboys in Mountain West Conference play at Arena Auditorium.
Having won only once in the last six outings, the Aggies are burying themselves deeper and deeper in the MWC standings with a record of only 2-6. Earlier this week, USU hosted New Mexico in Logan and was taken down in a 78-65 final, just three days after fighting to overtime versus seventh-ranked San Diego State at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys had been heading onward and upward as they enjoyed a four-game win streak, but that came to an end on Wednesday night when the squad tumbled against Fresno State, 67-62, at the Save Mart Center in California. With a conference mark of 4-3, the Pokes find themselves stuck in the middle of the standings heading into the weekend.
Wyoming leads the all-time series by a count of 44-23, dating back to 1926. Despite now being conference foes, this game marks the first meeting since 2008 when USU captured a 90-85 overtime affair at home in Logan.
As one of the most successful home teams in college basketball over the last decade, the Aggies are not used to being taken out in their own building, but it has happened now twice in the last week. Against New Mexico, USU was led by Jarred Shaw who scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds, followed by Preston Medlin with 13 points and nine of the unit's 18 assists. Coming off the bench to play 19 minutes, Kyle Davis pitched in with 10 points and five boards.
Conference play has not agreed with the Aggies so far this season, with the team generating only 64.9 ppg even though they are one of the better perimeter shooting teams with 41.3 percent accuracy. Shaw handles the action on the inside with 14.1 ppg and 7.7 rpg, while Spencer Butterfield (12.3 ppg) and Medlin (12.0 ppg) continue to stretch defenses with a collective 36-of-82 effort out on the perimeter.
Wyoming hit on an impressive 54.2 percent from the field in the second half of the meeting with the Bulldogs earlier this week, but that was only after allowing FSU to make good on 58.3 percent from the floor in the first half and build a seven-point advantage at the break. Larry Nance Jr. was responsible for a team-best 20 points, but only five rebounds, while Riley Grabau tacked on 14 points in the losing cause.
As is the case overall this season, the Cowboys are holding league foes to only 61.0 ppg at the moment, those opponents shooting just 42.4 percent from the floor and 64.3 percent at the free-throw line. At the other end of the floor Nance, who has tallied 3.0 blocked shots per contest, is pouring in 16.6 ppg and is also tops with 9.0 rpg, but the squad needs much more punch in the scoring department in order to build on 62.6 ppg.
If Nance can get back to being an intimidating force in the paint, this is a meeting that should go in favor of the Cowboys, especially considering how poorly USU has played on the road this season.
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