GAME NOTES: Utah State tries to avoid losing a third-straight home date tonight as the Aggies host the Nevada Wolf Pack in Mountain West Conference action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
With one of the top home winning percentages in all of college basketball over the last decade, the Aggies are not used to having trouble in their own building, but that seems to be the case right now following defeats at the hands of San Diego State and New Mexico late last month. Granted, the Aztecs and Lobos two of the top programs in the MWC, but still the Aggies should be performing better at home in Logan.
Unfortunately, not only has USU slipped up a few times at home, there has also been an inability to win anywhere else lately. On Saturday the team was slapped around by Wyoming in Laramie, 74-57, marking the program's fifth consecutive setback.
While Utah State nears the bottom of the MWC standings with a record of 2-7, the exact opposite is the case for the Wolf Pack with their 7-2 league mark. Over the weekend Nevada hosted Air Force and was forced to go to overtime before shooting down the Falcons, 69-56. It was the second straight win and the seventh in the last nine outings for the program.
The Aggies own a 31-16 advantage in the all-time series, although Nevada has won three straight matchups, including a 62-54 final at home in the Lawlor Events Center in Reno last month.
After shooting just 32.0 percent from the field in the second half, including 1-of-13 behind the 3-point line, the Pack went into halftime with Air Force on a mission and turned it around with a 15-2 scoring burst. Jerry Evans registered a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while AJ West posted 10 points, 12 boards and four blocked shots. Cole Huff accounted for 13 points and Deonte Burton 10, to go along with seven assists in order to compensate for his mere 4-of-12 shooting from the floor.
Burton, a starter in all 120 games in which he has played for Nevada over four years, has his scoring average up to 21.0 ppg and is also first with 4.0 apg and a total of 36 steals, all while playing close to 39 minutes per contest. Evans brings offensive support with 13.5 ppg, a huge improvement over his career average of 7.7 rpg. Michael Perez chips in another 11.5 ppg, but there is still some question about his shot selection since he has nailed just 37.6 percent of his tries.
The Aggies fell behind Wyoming right out of the gate and never recovered on Saturday, bowing by 17 points in Laramie while allowing the Cowboys to shoot 53.3 percent from the field and 8-of-14 behind the 3-point line. From an offensive standpoint, Spencer Butterfield accounted for 12 points, converting three of his five attempts from beyond the arc, followed by Preston Medlin with 11 points, but the other three starters were all limited to just two made field goals apiece.
The offense for the Aggies is far from flashy these days, with Butterfield now leading the charge with his 13.2 ppg, thanks to 47.0 percent accuracy behind the 3-point line. Medlin, who is also more than efficient on the perimeter with 45.9 percent of his attempts dropping through, is producing 13.0 ppg and is first on the unit with 89 assists. Jarred Shaw is considered the top scorer in terms of average (14.5 ppg), although missing five games means the spotlight has not always been on him.
Losing three straight home games is something the Aggies are not accustomed to and you can believe all of the players are well aware of how much they've let down the fans in recent weeks, so now is the time to show signs of life.
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