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Depth already hurting Ags

LOGAN — When Utah State basketball coach Stew Morrill looked down the bench in Saturday's 102-65 victory over Lewis & Clark College, he saw just as many players in street clothes as he did in uniform.

"With the guys we're trying to redshirt we have 10 (total)," he said.

Down on the very end of the pine he saw two injured players, two possible redshirts and a walk-on.

Among the injured was Nick Hammer, who broke his pinky finger on his left shooting hand Friday.

"It was a freak deal in practice," Morrill said, "It looked dislocated, but it was a fracture."

Hammer was evaluated again Sunday and Monday and could have surgery today to have a pin placed in the finger. It has yet to be determined. In any case, he will miss at least four weeks. With the break coming on his shooting hand, it could be longer, however.

In the first two games of the year at Oral Roberts and Middle Tennessee, Hammer, a junior college transfer from Dixie State, averaged five points and two rebounds.

Also on the bench was Steve Cobbley, who will not play because of a back injury.

Morrill is hoping to redshirt center Arvydas Vaitiekus and guard Mike Daniels. Guard Humphrey Jackson is a walk-on and will redshirt.

The five available players in uniform combined for 33 points (16 from Chaz Spicer), 16 rebounds and nine assists.

The Aggies (2-1) travel to Utah Wednesday.

BENDALL'S DEBUT: Nate Bendall, a freshman from Skyline High School, played 13 minutes Saturday after missing the first two games with an injured foot. He scored eight points and pulled down five rebounds.

"He's a freshman that can definitely help us," Morrill said. "We need to get him in game shape. He's not quite sure what he's doing out there. He does it hard even if he doesn't know what he's doing. I was real pleased with him."

MORE ON MATHEUS: Center Cass Matheus played a season-high 22 minutes in the win over the Pioneers on Saturday. He scored a team-high 20 points and pulled down eight rebounds. More importantly, he had just one personal foul. That was good seeing he fouled out of the first two games this year.

"That's really key for us," Morrill said. "Cass can't play 15 to 17 minutes. We've got to have him on the court. He's got to be smarter about that."

Matheus, a 6-foot-10 inch senior, agreed.

"I've got to keep working on that, especially when they're going to need me a lot. I've got to stay in the game," he said.

HITTING 100: Bendall's lay-up with 2:51 left in Saturday's 102-65 win put the Aggies over the century mark for the first time under Morrill.

It was the most points scored by the Aggies since a 102-76 victory over North Texas in 1998. It was the third time in that season the Aggies scored over 100. They also beat Southern Oregon 111-61 and Long Island, 100-84.

Under Morrill the Aggies have scored in the 90s eight times and were one point shy of hitting 100 in a 99-43 victory over Western State in Dec. 2001.

REMEMBERING WHEN: Saturday's win reminded Jaycee Carroll of his high school glory days when he averaged 39 points a game his senior year a few years ago.

"It's fun running wild," he said. "It's my kind of game. It reminds me of Evanston High School."

Carroll scored 18 points on 8 of 10 shooting against the Division III Pioneers.

EARLY COMPARISONS: Utah State's team, 24-8, that won the Big West Conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year also started the season 2-1.

So is there any comparison with this year's team to last year's?

"We're still really inexperienced, and a lot of times we don't understand what it takes to be really competitive at this level," Carroll said. "Last year we had so many seniors, and they knew what it took, and we're still learning."


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com