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Trying to get the final pieces together for the non-conference schedule has taken some time for first-year Utah State head men’s basketball coach Ryan Odom.

In fact, the new head coach apologized for taking so long when asked about it Thursday after the first official day of team practice.

“We think we have a tough schedule, a really exciting schedule,” Odom said. “We wish we had more home games, especially early in the season. I really do feel that overall, this non-conference schedule is really going to challenge us and prepare us for a really tough Mountain West.”

Some games had already been announced by the Aggies and others through opposing schools that USU will play. Right as the Mountain West Conference was announcing television games that will be broadcast, the Aggies released their complete schedule.

USU will host Montana Western in an exhibition game on Wednesday, Oct. 27, in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Almost two weeks after that, the Odom era will begin with the season opener on Tuesday, Nov. 9, against UC Davis in the Spectrum.

The battle of the Aggies will mark the fourth time the two teams have met on the hardwood, with USU holding a 2-1 advantage over UC Davis. The two teams last met during the 2014-15 season, a 77-70 overtime victory for UCD.

“We are excited about this year’s challenging non-conference schedule,” Odom said. “It provides our team with quality opponents on the road, at neutral venues and inside the Spectrum. These contests will prepare us for the tough and competitive conference season we expect in the Mountain West. We are also thrilled to be able to welcome our fans, and especially the HURD, back into a packed Spectrum.”

The Aggies will then take an extended road trip, playing Richmond on Friday, Nov. 12, at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, as part of the 2021 Veterans Classic. Travel will then take USU to South Carolina, Nov. 18-21, when USU opens the Myrtle Beach Invitational against Penn on Thursday, Nov. 18. The Aggies will face New Mexico State or Davidson on Friday, Nov. 19, before playing the final game of the tournament on Sunday, Nov. 21. The rest of the Myrtle Beach Invitational field includes East Carolina, Indiana State, Oklahoma and Old Dominion.

As part of the Veterans Classic, USU athletes and coaches will participate in a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy and eat alongside members of the U.S. Navy. The game at the academy will mark the first meeting in school history against Richmond and the first of back-to-back first-time opponents for the Aggies.

The matchup with Penn in the first round of the Myrtle Beach Classic will also be a new opponent for USU as the Quakers will be competing for the first time since the 2019-20 season after the Ivy League canceled all athletic events last year because of COVID.

After the trip east, the Aggies return home for three games. USU will take on UT-Arlington on Saturday, Nov. 27, Carroll College (Montana) on Monday, Nov. 29 and Saint Mary’s on Thursday, Dec. 2. Following a road contest at BYU on Wednesday, Dec. 8, USU will be back at home on Saturday, Dec. 11, facing New Orleans.

UT-Arlington joined the WAC just as USU was leaving that league during the 2012-13 campaign, marking the last time the two teams played. The matchup against the Gaels will mark the 12th time the teams have faced each other on the hardwood, with USU leading the all-time series 6-5. USU and BYU will meet for the 238th time, representing the oldest and longest in-state rivalry for the Aggies. USU and New Orleans last played during the 2016-17 season, a 76-66 home victory for USU. The game rekindled a series that hadn’t been played since the mid-70s.

The Aggies will play their final in-state opponent on Wednesday, Dec. 15, traveling to Ogden for a game with Weber State, before facing Iowa in a neutral-site game in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Sanford Pentagon.

The Aggies close out their non-conference slate on Tuesday, Dec. 21, by playing Portland State inside the Spectrum.

The 2020-21 edition of the USU/WSU contest was canceled because of COVID, snapping a streak of 25-consecutive years that the two had played one another. The game will feature a familiar face in WSU senior Koby McEwen, who was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year when playing for the Aggies during the 2016-17 season.

USU will meet the Hawkeyes for just the fourth time in school history during the neutral-court contest. USU posted a 75-62 victory over Iowa in the last meeting during the 2007-08 season. Portland State has won each of the last two games against the Aggies, but both were away from the friendly confines of the Spectrum, where USU is a perfect 2-0 against the Vikings.

Conference play begins on Tuesday, Dec. 28, at Air Force for USU. The Mountain West announced that portion of the schedule last month.

The Aggies will make their television debut on Nov. 12, against Richmond. Fans will be able to watch the game on the CBS Sports Network and will also be able to watch each of the Aggies’ games during the Myrtle Beach Invitational on the ESPN family of networks.

USU will appear on CBSSN nine times during the year, including home contests against Saint Mary’s, Boise State on Tuesday, Jan. 4, and UNLV on Saturday, Feb. 5. Road games on CBSSN include at New Mexico on Saturday, Jan. 8, at Colorado State on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Fresno State on Tuesday, Jan. 18, at Nevada on Saturday, Jan. 29, at San Diego State on Tuesday, Feb. 15, and at Boise State on Saturday, Feb. 19.

All but one of the games on Fox Sports 1 will be a home game for the Aggies, including contests against San Diego State on Wednesday, Jan. 26, Nevada on Friday, Feb. 11, New Mexico on Tuesday, Feb. 22, and Colorado State on Saturday, Feb. 26. USU’s regular-season finale at San José State will also be carried on FS1 on Friday, March 4.

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.

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