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Utah State men's basketball: Aggies are cautious of 'trap' game

Typically, a team peeking in at the Top 25 doesn't have much to worry about when facing an opponent that is playing dreadfully, has absolutely no postseason hopes and may be on the verge of having its coach fired.

Especially not when it's a team Utah State throttled by 44 points when they met a few weeks ago.

Which, of course, is exactly why Utah State coach Stew Morrill is concerned as his team makes a quick visit to Hawaii tonight.

"People talk about trap games, but to me that has always been a little bit arrogant," Morrill said. "When they say trap games, it is like you are supposed to win that game. If you don't get ready, you might get upset."

The Aggies, 22-6 overall and riding a 12-game win streak, are on the verge of wrapping up a third consecutive WAC regular-season title. Hawaii, on the other hand, is losing and losing ugly as it appears to be giving up on the season with a 2-10 WAC record and the distinct possibility of not qualifying for next month's conference tournament.

None of those records or streaks matter to Morrill, though. He's well aware that long flights to the tropics during the dead of winter have turned into travel nightmares.

"I have been to Hawaii enough to know they can beat you no matter what over there. It is hard to put a finger on why. They have had a lot of good teams, but they are tough to beat over there when their record isn't as good. ... Maybe they have just been tough for me to beat. "

And with Roderick Flemings, a Kentucky transfer capable of filling up a basket with his high scoring ways, the Warriors are indeed a dangerous team.

Flemings won WAC player of the week honors despite Hawaii losing both of its games. He averaged 32.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists last week, and it will be USU swingman Pooh Williams' job to slow him down.

"If we allow him to get 39 like he did the other night, we probably lose because we only score about 60 (points per game)," Morrill said. "That wouldn't be a good combination. If they just pound you on the boards and gain confidence, or if you are not quite ready to play, there are a million factors that go into a game like that."

Utah State will again rely on its depth and balance.

With seven players scoring between eight and 13 points per game during WAC play, the Aggies are difficult to defend because teams can't focus on one or two players.

Tai Wesley, Jared Quayle and Tyler Newbold have been as sharp as possible when taking care of the ball in recent games.

Quayle, USU's senior point guard, has not had a turnover in the past three games.

Following the quick trip to Hawaii, Utah State closes out the regular season next week with a pair of home games against Fresno State and New Mexico State.

The WAC Tournament is a week later in Reno, where USU is almost assured of being one of the top two seeds.

"Our team is in a good frame of mind. We have practiced pretty well. Our practices are much shorter this time of year, and the players like that," Morrill said. "Hopefully, we can keep playing good basketball. That is what we need to do."

Aggies on the air

Utah State (22-6, 11-2) at Hawaii (9-17, 2-10)

Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu

Tonight, 10 p.m.

TV: none Radio: 610 AM, 1230 AM, 95.9 FM

e-mail: jeborn@desnews.com