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Utah State basketball: USU aiming for 7th straight victory

USU's Pooh Williams drives to the basket in a game last weekend. Williams has helped USU climb into a first-place tie in the WAC.
USU's Pooh Williams drives to the basket in a game last weekend. Williams has helped USU climb into a first-place tie in the WAC.
Braden Wolfe, Associated Press

LOGAN — Utah State head basketball coach Stew Morrill picked up career win No. 500 at Idaho less than two weeks ago.

Tonight, Morrill's Aggies will try to get him No. 502 against those same Vandals — this time in USU's Spectrum and on ESPN2.

"It seems pretty fresh in our minds having played them just a couple of games ago," Morrill said. "They've had a few games since then, but we still have them in our heads."

The Aggies, winners of six straight and now tied for first place in the Western Athletic Conference, may have the advantage of decidedly winning their game against Idaho on Jan. 23 and being at home this time, but Morrill said Idaho has made some adjustments and is playing well recently.

"They will come in motivated with the television audience," USU's 12th-year coach said. "It will be a strong effort from them and we know that."

The Vandals will certainly be looking for a better performance from their backcourt — and the entire team, for that matter — than they got in USU's 60-48 win the last time they met in Moscow, Idaho.

In that game, Mac Hopson and Steffan Johnson combined for only 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting. The duo averages a combined 26.4 points per outing.

Utah State, as has been the case all season, will not look to any one particular player. With no Aggie averaging more than Tai Wesley's 13 points, each night it seems a different player steps up to lead them to another win.

In WAC games, USU's leading scorer is Jared Quayle at just 11.3 points per game. But seven players average 8.0 or more points per game and the team is shooting better than 50 percent from the floor as a unit in conference play.

"We've really played some unselfish basketball," Morrill said. "That's what I love about this team, we practice hard and nobody is selfish. They're really playing good team ball."

Most notably, the Aggies are dominating teams on defense.

WAC opponents are shooting just 39 percent against the Aggies and scoring only 58 points per outing.

Utah State has tightened its rotation with Brian Green and Brady Jardine getting the bulk of the minutes off the bench, providing a big spark on offense, while Modou Niang and Jaxon Myaer still see about nine minutes each.

The game tips off at 9 p.m. to accommodate the national ESPN2 broadcast, and Utah State won't have a lot of time to rest. Nevada, hoping to also climb back into the WAC race, visits the Spectrum on Saturday for a huge matchup.

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Aggies on the air

Utah State (16-6, 6-2 WAC) vs. Idaho (10-10, 2-6)

Smith Spectrum, Logan

Tonight, 9 p.m.

TV: ESPN2 Radio: 610 AM, 1230 AM, 95.9 FM