The Fresno State Bulldogs will play their second consecutive home game as the host the WACs best team right now in the Utah State Aggies. The Aggies have a 16-6 overall record and have a 6-1 conference mark. Their lone conference loss came on the road at the hands of New Mexico State 100-70. Aggies coach Stew Morril had disciplined 3 players for that game and did not allow them to play which added much to the outcome in Las Cruces.
The Dogs swept the season series last season, they were the only team on the Utah State schedule to win in Logan. Since the Aggies joined the WAC the Dogs have also had the best record against them, only one loss. The Aggies have won 11 of their last 12 games this season.
The Utah State Aggies coming in:
The Aggies enter off of 77-63 home victory over Nevada. Jaycee Carrol had 24 points and Gary Wilkinson had 23 points and 10 rebounds on 9 of 11 shooting from the field.
Senior Guard Jaycee Carroll leads the WAC with a 21.2 per game average, he leads in free throw shooting at 92.3%, and three point shooting at 50.4%. He also is eighth in overall shooting at 52.9% and averages 5.8 rebounds per game. One can surmise from this stat line that Carroll carries his team and if you want to slow the Aggies you must slow Carroll somehow.
Key Aggie Stats:
-49-18 in the month of February under Stew Morrill
-USU is 14-0 when the opponent is under 70 points
-leads WAC in free throw shooting at 78.6% (2nd in nation)
-leads WAC in 3 point shooting at 39.9%
-Shoots 50.5% from the field
-18.8 assists per game
-72.5 points per game
-+2.8 rebounding margin
-opponents have outscored Aggies 804-781 in the second half
The Dogs entering:
The Bulldogs stayed home in Fresno after their 70-58 win over Louisiana Tech. Junior Guard Dwight O’Neill returned to the court after a dislocated wrist he suffered in game 4 against CS-Bakersfield. It could help the Dogs in time but he will need to get back into playing shape and work off the rust in the coming weeks.
Against La Tech the Dogs were led by Kevin Bell who had 18 points and handed out 6 assists. Eddie Miller finished with 17 points on 5-10 3 point shooting, Miller has been spectacular from 3 at home in WAC play thus far.
Key Dog Stats:
-Kevin Bell (17.9 pts, 6 assists)
-Eddie Miller (14.8 pts, 40.4% 3 point shooting)
-Hector Hernandez (10.1 pts, 6.8 rebs)
-69 points per game
-33.5% 3 point shooting
-70% free throws
-rebounding margin of -4.5
-+2 turnover margin
What to look for:
Utah State is playing great basketball right now and it will be a huge task for the Dogs to win Thursday night. Expect the Aggies to get off to a great start and for Coach Cleveland to have to take a quick time out. If the Dogs can weather the early storm and feed off the home crowd they can stay in it.
Defense will be the key as the Aggie offense is finally clicking and they are running it to greater precision right now. It will take 40 points combined from Miller and Bell for the Dogs to have a shot, possibly 45. Two players need to be in the 6-8 point range and a few more key contributions off the bench will be necessary.
The Aggies are on a roll, although they have had a tough time in Fresno in the past. I say they jump out early, the Dogs reel them back in, Carroll takes over and the Dogs drop a tough one 73-71.