Fresno State Bulldogs (13-14, 6-8 MWC) vs. Utah State Aggies (15-11, 5-9)
WHEN: Saturday, February 22, 6:00 PST
WHERE: Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum, Logan, UT
TV: The game can be seen online as part of the Campus Insiders network, at the official website for the Mountain West Conference.
RADIO: The Fresno broadcast can be heard on the local ESPN affiliate, 940 AM, while the Utah State feed can be found in and around Logan on 610 AM and 102.1 FM.
LAST MEETING: The two teams last met as WAC foes on February 4, 2012, and the Bulldogs won at home 60-54.
Fresno State lost a bit of momentum when they failed to defeat Wyoming last Tuesday, but their five-game win streak did serve to vault the Bulldogs a few spots in the conference standings. One of the teams they passed in the process was Utah State, a former WAC power that has struggled to find its footing in a top-heavy Mountain West. The Aggies have alternated between lengthy losing streaks and not-quite-as-lengthy winning streaks for the last month. This is the only meeting between the two teams this year, which means the winner will gain a crucial edge in seeding for the conference tournament next month.
What to Watch - Fresno State: What made the 'Dogs successful in recent trips to Reno and Colorado Springs was defensive discipline. They misplaced that trait against the Cowboys, surrendering an astounding 37 free throw attempts in the second half. Three starters fouled out; it was, as the Fresno Bee's Robert Kuwada put it, a "meltdown". If they can gain an advantage by getting to the free throw line, as they did in those wins at Nevada and Air Force, the poor second half in Laramie could soon be considered a blip.
If the starters do get into foul trouble again, though, the bench has to have better production. Karachi Edo, Tanner Giddings and Allen Huddleston each spent at least five minutes on the floor in the second half and combined for just two points.
What to Watch - Utah State: One of the big advantages that the Aggies have in this matchup is preventing rebounds. They own a +2.3 per game margin in conference play that is much better than Fresno's -3.1. Jarred Shaw and Kyle Davis rank in the conference's top ten in rebounding, and Shaw in particular has played well in the last couple weeks with three double-doubles in the last five games. If trends hold, a slow start for the Bulldogs could doom them early.
Look for Preston Medlin to try and break out of his recent shooting funk, as well. He is 3-of-21 in the team's two recent losses, but shot 47.5% in the winning streak that preceded those defeats. Average production, which in this case is nearly 13 points per contest, would prevent the 'Dogs from zeroing in on Spencer Butterfield and Shaw.