After having a week to wrap up the fall semester, the Aggies turn their attention to four games in six nights.
The Utah State men's basketball team is back in Utah County tonight to start the busy stretch. The Aggies (7-2) face Utah Valley (4-5) in Orem at 7 o'clock. The game will be televised on CW30 (Comcast channel 15, DirecTV channel 30, DISH channel 30).
The Wolverines' record is a bit deceiving. During a four-game winning streak, they won at Oregon State, 70-68. They are also 3-1 at home this season.
"They (Wolverines) are similar to Cal State Bakersfield in that they are a lot better than they were a year ago," USU head coach Stew Morrill said. "... They are playing pretty well. When you watch them on film, they are solid."
In several of the meetings with UVU, the Aggies have had relatively close games.
"It is a good challenge for us to go down there," Morrill said. "For all the trips that we have made down to Orem to play, this is probably the best Utah Valley team we have faced."
The Wolverines have added several players who are already making their presence felt. Junior college transfer Isiah Williams is leading the team with 15.0 points per game, while freshmen Ben Aird and Holton Hunsaker have earned starting jobs and are scoring 8.8 and 9.9 ppg, respectively.
"He (Williams) is real dangerous from the 3-point line," Morrill said. "Their whole team is. ... About half of his shots come from 3-pointers. Any time you are shooting 42 or 43 percent from three, you are a very good shooter. Also, as you close out on him to chase him off the 3-point line, he has the ability to drive around you. He is impressive.
"... Holton Hunsaker and Ben Aird are two Utah kids that are older freshmen that have recently returned from LDS (Church) missions. ... They both have good skills."
Hunsaker is the son of UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker. The younger Hunsaker originally signed with Louisiana Tech.
Then there is Jordan Swarbrick, who has played well of late, and Justin Baker coming off the bench. Baker has had good outings in the past against the Aggies.
The Wolverines have also had all week to prepare for tonight's game as well. USU used the week to work on some different areas that Morrill felt needed some attention.
"We are trying to execute a little better offensively," Morrill said. "We are 7-2 primarily because we have defended and rebounded pretty well. I think everybody feels like we are going to get better offensively as we go. Hopefully, that is the case."
The Aggies coach said his team worked on "a lot of different areas" during the week. Some different looks were added as well. The team spent more time shooting, but made sure to not neglect the defensive end. The Aggies also worked on breaking the press.
"We did not handle the press very well against Bakersfield," Morrill said.
In their last outing, the Aggies built a 21-point lead by halftime against Cal State Bakersfield. However, a sluggish second half had Morrill shaking his head a little. USU won 77-58.
The Aggies bring a two-game winning streak into this evening's game.
Point guard Brockeith Pane and guard/forward Pooh Williams will be back in the starting lineup tonight after watching the start of the last game from the bench.
"They will both start," Morrill said. "At the point guard position we have had an interesting week of practice. I think that Brockeith is the guy there, and hopefully we can get him playing like he can play."
Tai Wesley continues to lead the Aggies, averaging 14.7 points and 8.0 rebounds each game. Brian Green is the only other USU player averaging double figures, scoring 11.3 off the bench. Brady Jardine is also coming off the bench now, since Nate Bendall returned, and is adding 9.2 points and a team-best 9.0 rebounds each game.