After the first three games of last season the BYU basketball team was feeling pretty good about itself.

The Cougars were 2-1 following an impressive showing in the Great Alaska Shootout where they beat eventual Final 4 participant Oklahoma State and then tradition-rich Louisville before being edged by Minnesota in the tournament championship game.But when the Cougars returned to Utah they were promptly humbled by Utah State. The Aggies jumped out to an early lead a year ago and never let up in ripping BYU in Logan, 83-58. "Last year Utah State brought us back to reality," Cougar coach Roger Reid said.

After the first three games of this season the Cougars are just 1-2, but are still feeling pretty good about themselves after a narrow loss at No. 7 Mississippi State Saturday.

Tonight, the Cougars host 3-2 Utah State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Aggies, who were picked by both the media and the coaches to win the Big West Conference title, know they won't be able to sneak up on BYU this season.

"They are going to remember what happened last year," said Aggie star forward Eric Franson.

Bryon Ruffner, whose 22.3 scoring average leads the Cougars, is not new to the BYU-USU rivalry. However, tonight is his first time to be on the Cougars' side in the battle. Ruffner spent two years at Utah State (one as a medical redshirt) before transferring to Utah Valley State College and then to BYU.

"I saw Bryon this summer," said Aggie coach Larry Eustachy. "I still haven't figured it out (why he transferred), but it's behind us now. I'm proud of what he's doing. He's made a lot of progress. It was just something that didn't work out."

The bulk of the Aggies scoring has been by their starting senior forwards Franson and Silas Mills. Franson, the defending Big West Player of the Year, is averaging 18.8 points and 6.6 rebounds thus far, while Mills leads the Ags in both categories, averaging 24.8 points and 8.6 boards.

The Cougars, on the other hand, have four players averaging double figures: Ruffner, point guard Randy Reid (12.0 ppg), forward Justin Weidauer (11.3 ppg) and center Kenneth Roberts (11.0 ppg).