The Utah State Aggies are back in the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum to take on in-state rival BYU. This will be the 231st all-time meeting between the two schools. The last trip up to Logan in 2011 did not bode well for the Cougars, as they lost that game 69-62. This time, they will try to turn the tables.
Utah State has had somewhat of a shaky start to the season with come from behind wins against Weber State, Illinois State and Santa Clara while losing their last two games to Mississippi State and UC Davis in overtime. Tonight, the Aggies may very well be facing their first true test of the season against a 5-2 BYU squad.
Wins: Long Beach State (95-90), Arkansas-Little Rock (91-62), Southern Virginia (101-48), Chaminade (121-85), Eastern Kentucky (90-76)
Losses: #15 San Diego State (92-87 2OT), Purdue (87-85 OT)
Team Leaders: Points - Tyler Haws (22.1 PPG), Rebounds - Nate Austin (6.1 RPG), Assists - Kyle Collinsworth (5.3 APG)
BYU is the top scoring offense in the nation, averaging 95 points in their first seven games. They are also second in assists per game, averaging 21 a game. Their shooting average is at 50 percent, which ranks in the top 50 in the country. All of this adds up to a tough test for Utah State. They have played a man-to-man defense for a majority of their games, which has been a problem for them.
For Utah State, there are some big keys to have a chance to win this game. The first is rebounding: In their two losses this season, the Aggies have lost the rebounding margin by 24 and have given up several second chance opportunities to opponents. With a team like BYU, giving up too many second chance points could lead to a ugly outcome.
The second key is ball control. The Cougars are ranked 18th in the country in steals per game, averaging around 10 per game. The Aggies have had turnover problems in the past and they cannot afford to turn the ball over 15 to 20 times during the game.
The final key is getting off to a fast start. The team had trailed at halftime in its first three games and had double digit deficits in all of them. In their last two games, the team never trailed by more than eight and as held a halftime lead in both of those games. If Utah State can get out in front early and really put pressure on the Cougars, then this should be a very entertaining game.
Tip-off for tonight's game is at 7 p.m. MT and will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.