This is more what a game against a Division II school should look like. It wasn't a perfect performance by any means, but the outcome was never in serious doubt. Jalen Moore and Chris Smith led the way for the Utah State Aggies in an 83-68 win over the Adams State Grizzlies.
Fun fact: I have attended three games this season and in each one of them I have heard someone ask "who is that guy?" after a Quinn Taylor hustle play. I think it’s safe to say he’ll be a fan favorite by the end of the year.
Taylor wasn’t supposed to play as many minutes as he has on the young season, but Duryea had a hard time keeping him off the court in this one. He had twelve points and nine rebounds, nearly all of them memorable. He has shown a knack for making plays off the bench that get the crowd going: a body slam of a dunk against Panhandle, the tip slam tonight, and his corner three that had everyone in the building mouthing did you know he could shoot?
Playing with "heart" has become a cliché in the sports world, but sometimes with the focus on analytics we forget this is a game played by humans in their early 20’s. X’s and O’s are important, but early on we’ve seen the difference between a big man who had "heart", and one who didn’t.
The Evolution of Chris Smith
Utah State fans all know who this guy is, but Chris Smith has stepped up in a big way in these first few games. After leading the Aggies in the Weber State road win, Smith reprised his star role against Adam’s State finishing with 21 points and 7 boards, going 9-12 from the floor.
He’s been ruthlessly efficient from beyond the arc, hitting 7-11 through the first two games. The big change, however, is his willingness to attack the rim. Last year, Smith was a fun player to watch and a big part of the offense, but he also had a tendency to coast through games and settle for threes. This season he has been more aggressive, and at this point is the go to guy for an offense that needs some consistent leadership.
The outcome was never in too much doubt in this one, but the momentum that Utah State carried into halftime seemed to dissipate after the intermission. Execution on both sides of the ball went down, and the slackened effort highlighted what has been Utah State’s most glaring weakness so far- weak side rotations on defense.
The Aggies struggle mightily when the first line of defense is broken. The first rotation comes (the big under the basket), but the second one rarely has, resulting in a lot of high percentage looks around the rim. Weber and Adams State both enjoyed possessions that were just too easy. If these schools are getting easy looks, imagine what could happen at Cameron Indoor.
On the bright side, the 1-3-1 look has been more effective, and seems to give the players a better idea of their roles on the floor. Hopefully some of that awareness will transfer over as they drill their man to man rotations over the coming weeks.
Things I Like
- Elston Jones posting up. Showed some nice touch again tonight on 4-4 shooting.
- Jalen got into foul trouble but was in command when he was on the floor. Much improved over the Weber State game.
- The announcer somehow mistaking Julion Pearre for Jalen Moore after a made shot. You'd think Jalen would be fairly easy to identify.
- Shane Rector making stuff happen. I don’t care that he wasn’t crazy efficient, he attacks relentlessly and actually looks like a point guard.
Things I Don’t Like
- Elston not getting looks down the stretch. At one point he was posted up on one of Adams State's undersized guards for an entire possession and no one could get him the ball
- Pearre from 3. Our two guard is 0-8 on the season. He either has to start knocking down open looks, or take it to the rim when he gets the ball. Perkins was also 0-3 from deep.
- Too many states that aren’t states. Adams State, Weber State, Boise State. Utah is a state. Those pretenders are not.
- Student Section. Kudos for being loud, but I feel like the creativity that made past student sections so great is gone. Remember the Reggie Theus lookalike contest???
Bring the magic back