Sitting atop the Mountain West Conference standings along with the Broncos, the Aggies will find out just how good they are over the next two weeks.
Utah State and Boise State are both 6-0 in league play. Interestingly enough, both teams have played the same three opponents to this point. The Aggies (9-3 overall) and Broncos (10-1) have played two-game series against San Jose State, New Mexico and Air Force. That trio is a combined 1-17 in MW games.
The Aggies have won four of their games on the road, while the Broncos have four of their victories at home. USU has a scoring margin of 33.3 points in the six MW games, while BSU is at 24.0
“It’s always tough to win on the road,” Aggie head coach Craig Smith said. “We are 6-0 and took care of business like we needed to. Four of those are road wins, which is nice. We just need to keep climbing the ladder and keep getting better because we can still grow.”
Tougher tests are certainly ahead for both teams. The Aggies host preseason conference favorite and formerly nationally ranked San Diego State (9-2, 3-1) this Thursday and Saturday. The Broncos started a two-game series at Wyoming (7-2, 1-1) Monday night.
After this week, USU welcomes Colorado State (8-2, 5-1) to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Rams won at San Diego State and made the second game with the Aztecs interesting.
“While we have taken care of business, we now have San Diego State,” Smith said. “They are a tremendous, tremendous team. Then we have Colorado State, who has played fantastic basketball. We play four games in eight days coming up. We are excited to be at home.”
While many teams have been splitting these two-game series across the country as a lot of conferences are using that scheduling format, the Aggies have been able to avoid losing focus, even after big wins. Against San Jose State and Air Force, the second game was a bit closer, but still would have to go down as blowouts. Then there was the New Mexico series, where USU won by 32 points in the first game and by 36 in the second.
“Our upperclassmen have done a really good job,” Smith said. “We got off to a slow start. We needed more leadership. Our upperclassmen have done a fantastic job. ... They are all different, but they all contribute in their own way. It’s fun to see how they respect one another and how they get along with one another so well. It’s a fun group.”
Not only have the Aggies been outscoring opponents by a large margin, but they have won the rebound battle in every contest. In league games, USU is plus-17.0 in the rebounding department.
USU is shooting better than 50 percent from the field, while opponents are at 32 percent. One could go on and on statistically.
How does the head coach feel about the domination?
“I’m really proud of our guys for respecting the game,” Smith said. “They understand the process of trying to get better and keep on improving. It’s easy to start doing your own thing when you get a big lead and we certainly aren’t perfect, but we have come a long way in the last three weeks.
“... We have showed some maturity and our guys have handled things in a very professional manner. I think it says a lot about the character of our players. We have a lot of guys that love to play and love to compete. When you have that, they feed off each other.”
With so many young players figuring out their roles, the Aggie head coach is all smiles. He said this 2020-21 team has a special “vibe” about it.
“It’s going to get a lot tougher and we know that,” Smith said. “It’s going to get difficult. I feel we are improving on a daily basis. Everyone wants to win, but it’s all about improving and let’s play our best basketball at the end of the year.”
The next test is quickly approaching. San Diego State will visit the Spectrum on Thursday with the game starting at 7 p.m. The same two will meet again on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. That time was recently moved back a half hour as CBS changed its television programming.