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Utah State basketball: Aggies to face better Bakersfield team

SHARE Utah State basketball: Aggies to face better Bakersfield team

LOGAN — It's a bit of an unorthodox rivalry, but when Cal-State Bakersfield (5-4) visits Utah State (6-2) this weekend it will be the two teams' fifth match-up in as many years.

Utah State has won the previous four games in the series, but this year looks like the Roadrunners' best chance to steal a game. With five victories already this season, Bakersfield has nearly matched last season's total of seven wins.

"This is the best Cal State Bakersfield team we have played, and we've had a series with them since they've made the move to Division I," head coach Stew Morrill said. "They've played really well the past couple of games, and I think it's the best personnel they've had."

Guard Stephon Carter is averaging more than 19 points a game for Bakersfield.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Carter scored 32 points against the WAC's San Jose State in an 82-77 win for the Roadrunners. Games like that serve as a cautionary tale to USU that this is not the same Bakersfield team the Aggies have blown out in their previous meetings.

"Hopefully our guys are aware that this is a lot better team than we've seen in the past," Morrill said. "We've always had respect for (Cal State) Bakersfield and the job (head coach) Keith (Brown) does."

The Aggies have not played since Tuesday night when they beat Long Beach State 81-53. Morrill has used the time off to get back to fundamentals.

"We tried to make sure we continue to grow defensively, that's been a plus, and we can never take that for granted," Morrill said. "When you do so much prep work for games, defensively, you sometimes neglect your basic rules, your basic fundamentals defensively, so we've gone back to that a little bit and will do so even more next week."

If the Aggies still have work to do on defense then the Roadrunners and the rest of the teams on Utah State's schedule should be worried. Opposing teams have shot just 39 percent against Utah State so far this season. Improvement in that category would place the Aggies among the top teams in the nation defensively.

Morrill still thinks the Aggies have a lot of work to do, but he is happy with the team's progress so far. The key is to keep improving as the season goes along.

"I have told our team on a couple of occasions this is not when we want to be playing our best basketball," Morrill said. "Sure we would like to be good now, but it's more important that we're good in February and March. And that's what you're ultimately shooting for is to be playing your best basketball down the stretch. We've just got to keep chipping away and trying to get better in some areas."

Aggies on the air

Cal-State Bakersfield (5-4)

at Utah State (6-2)

Today, 7 p.m., Spectrum, Logan

TV: KUCW

Radio: 1230 AM, 94.5 FM