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Utah State basketball: Aggies like Gossner tourney

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LOGAN — As the holidays approach in Cache Valley, so does the annual Gossner Foods men's basketball tournament.

This year, the World Vision Invitational, sponsored by Gossner Foods, features Idaho State, Western Michigan, Troy and host Utah State.

The tournament poses a unique challenge for the Aggies, who will only get one day of practice before the three-games-in-three-nights set. Last week, Utah State had a week off before facing Utah Valley.

"It's three games in three nights," senior forward Tai Wesley said. "You have to keep your body fresh."

USU head coach Stew Morrill likes the setup because it prepares his team well for what's to come in March.

"We went to this format with the Gossner's for two reasons: We get an extra game on the schedule because it is an exempt event," Morrill said. "The other reason is to get used to playing several nights in a row to prepare for the conference tournament."

The Aggies' first tournament game will be tonight against Idaho State.

"Their record is a little deceiving because they have played so many guarantee games," Morrill said.

Idaho State has played six of their nine games on the road and has yet to come up with a victory away from Holt Arena. Trips for the Bengals have included playing at Colorado, Arizona and Iowa.

The Bengals are led by Broderick Gilchrest, a combo guard who averages just under than 16 points per game.

Unlike a lot of mid-major teams, Idaho State does not lack size. The Bengals' second-leading scorer, Deividas Busma, is listed at 7 feet. The Bengals have two other bigs on the bench in Kamil Gawrzydek and Justin Brunswick who measure just under the 7-foot mark.

The Aggies play Western Michigan for their second Gossner Foods game on Wednesday.

The Broncos look to be the biggest challenge to Utah State in the tournament, bringing a 5-4 record.

Western Michigan features balanced scoring led by Flenard Whitfield and Demetrius Ward. In the big-name department, there is no one bigger in the tournament than Juwan Howard Jr., son of NBA veteran and Michigan "Fab-Five" alum Juwan Howard. The freshman forward is playing well in his first year, scoring just over seven points a game.

The finale pits the Aggies against the Troy Trojans on Thursday night.

The Trojans won 20 games last season on their way to their first Sun Belt regular-season championship, but have struggled out of the gates this season. Troy has lost nine straight contests coming into the tournament, and its only win came in the season-opener against Huntingdon College, a Division-III school.

Opening games on all three days begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Utah State game at 8.

Aggies on the air

Utah State (8-2) vs. Idaho State (3-6)

Tonight, 8 p.m.

Smith Spectrum, Logan

TV: none Radio: 610 AM, 1320 AM, 95.9 FM