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USU BEGINS TOUGH ROAD TRIP AGAINST NEW MEXICO ST. TONIGHT

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Well, the impossible happened for the Utah State football team the last time a major Aggie men's team visited Las Cruces to play a New Mexico State team. And the basketball team is staying at the same Holiday Inn . . .

. . . But a victory for the northern Aggie basketball team in the Pan American Center tonight at 7:35 MST (KJZZ, Ch. 14) seems even more unlikely than the shocking scenario that unfolded at the adjacent football field on Nov. 20 when Charlie Weatherbie's grid team, fueled by halftime news that last-place Arkansas State had upset defending Big West champion Nevada, came back from a 14-6 deficit to beat league co-leader New Mexico State 20-17 and win the bid to the Las Vegas Bowl.But the football team had been favored to win the league until a 1-5 season start, and it had avoided injuries to its main players.

Larry Eustachy's basketball team has not been so fortunate, having lost Bryon Ruffner for the season to a bad back and having probably lost 7-foot scoring leader Nate Wickizer for this week's games to an ankle sprain. He's listed as questionable, and Eustachy said he won't play.

Neil McCarthy's New Mexico State team, winner of the 1992-93 Big West regular season, is the overwhelming favorite to claim the title again and has done nothing in its 13 games to prove otherwise. New Mexico State is 12-1, 4-0 in league play following a 95-91 overtime win at UNLV Monday.

The 6-8, 3-4 Aggies play at UNLV Saturday night at 9 MST (also on KJZZ) to complete one of the nation's toughest two-game road trips.