After successfully extending their winning stretch to 14 consecutive games Thursday night, the Aggies put the nation's third longest active streak on the line late tonight at Hawaii.
The Utah State men's basketball team is well aware of the tough task at hand. Spending the majority of Friday flying to the island of Oahu, the Aggies then practiced in preparation for the Rainbow Warriors.
"Their fans are going to be there, and they (Rainbow Warriors) are going to be hyped up to play us," said Aggie guard Brian Green, who had a career-high 25 points on Thursday. "Coach was saying we have a lot of reasons to be tired, but we're not going to let the travel affect us. We're just going to come out, have character and play hard. Coach always gets on us about Saturday night road wins, so we just got to be prepared."
On Thursday, the Aggies (19-2, 8-0 Western Athletic Conference) didn't get off to the best start against San Jose State (9-10, 1-7). However, USU certainly finished the game on a good note, pulling away for a 84-65 victory. It was the highest scoring output of the season for the Aggies, who have won 22 straight WAC games and are currently ranked No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
Tonight the Aggies face a Hawaii (12-8, 3-5) team that has had all week to prepare for this game. The Rainbow Warriors bring a three-game winning streak into the contest that is scheduled to begin at 10 o'clock in Honolulu at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"They (Rainbow Warriors) have rested all week," USU head coach Stew Morrill said. "They are doing all sorts of promotions, trying to sell out their house. We know what we're walking into there. It's going to be a tough one, and they played us really good in Logan. It's nice to have one (win) under your belt on this road trip, now we will go and try and get two."
The biggest promotion is called "All In Against The Aggies," where Hawaii is trying to achieve a sellout, which would be 10,300 fans. With three-time defending WAC regular season champion USU in town, along with the Aggies being ranked, Hawaii is trying to pack the Stan Sheriff Center.
A win tonight would tie the USU school record for consecutive conference wins. During the seasons of 2000 and 2001 as members of the Big West Conference, the Aggies won 23 league games in a row.
Hawaii gave USU a tough game in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum back on Dec. 29. The Aggies trailed by as many as four in the first half, but took a four-point advantage into halftime, then opened the second half with a 7-0 run. However, the Rainbow Warriors was able to whittle an 11-point deficit to two on several occasions. USU held on for a 74-66 win to begin WAC play.
"We just need to go throw caution to the wind," said Aggie forward Tai Wesley, who had 27 points in the first meeting. "They will be ready for us. They didn't get our best shot in Logan, so they are looking forward to playing us, and we are looking forward to playing them. It should be a good game."
Hawaii guard Zane Johnson scored 24 points in the first meeting on 7-of-11 shooting.
"We need to guard him better," Wesley quipped. "I felt we guarded him pretty well in Logan; he was just lights out."
Wesley always looks forward to this game with mixed emotions. With his parents and two siblings living on Oahu, he gets to see them. However, the Aggies will not be there for long.
"It's good to see them, but we just aren't there very long," Wesley said.
The Rainbow Warriors have gotten better since then with the addition of forward Bill Amis, who missed the game in Logan with a bad foot. Amis has been putting up double-doubles lately.
"Dollar Bill (Amis) is good; he's a good player," Morrill said. "I've always liked Bill Amis. Their personnel is good. Hawaii is big and athletic. I've always thought they move a little quicker on the island for some reason."
During its winning streak, Hawaii has held opponents to 53.7 points a game. But USU has won five straight in the series and last suffered a defeat to the Rainbow Warriors in 2008 at Honolulu.
"It's the time of year where you just to find a way," Morrill said. "We're just trying to keep plugging. You wear down a little bit, but you can't give in to fatigue."
The Aggie coach is hoping his team builds on Thursday's outing.
"We passed the ball well and didn't turn it over much," Morrill said.
USU had just six turnovers against the Spartans. It was just the fourth time this season the Aggies had single digits in the turnover department and the first time in 10 games.