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YOUNGBLOOD PLAYS FINAL GAME BEFORE HOMETOWN FANS TONIGHT

The best time was, well, just a week ago today. Kendall Youngblood scored 41 points and hawked 13 rebounds, both career highs, to help Utah State beat New Mexico State in OT. "It's tough to get that in the same game," Youngblood says of his double high.

The worst times were all those games against the initial schools - BYU and UNLV - that Utah State never won.Oh, and that one game in his four-year Aggie career that he didn't start: It was Youngblood's freshman year, and it was a night like tonight, the final home game of the season. Kohn Smith started seniors ahead of him, and even though he knew that was the case, "I felt pretty bad," Youngblood remembers.

"I haven't really had any bad times at Utah State," says Youngblood, who starts for the 112th time in 113 games and for the last time in the Smith Spectrum, tonight when Fresno State (6-11, 15-14) visits to close out the regular season starting at 7:30 p.m.

It's the last game, too, for USU's own personal slice of Northern Exposure, Roger Daley, the only other senior, whose hometown is Craig, Alaska.

Neither has given Smith a moment's trouble, Youngblood as his first recruit - "He's done about as well as anybody could have," says Smith - and Daley as a walkon last year out of a hyphenated career (track-basketball) in junior college - "I have some real special feelings for what he's been able to accomplish. He's been a big part of the success of this year's team," says Smith.

Utah State, 9-8, 15-11, can finish between fourth and sixth in the Big West and will be seeded one higher for the league tournament next week because UNLV is ineligible.