Courtesy: Ilya Pinchuk (Moscow, Idaho)
|Idaho at Utah State|
Game 13: Idaho (6-6, 2-0) at Utah State (12-1, 3-0)
When: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 (6:05 p.m. PT)
Where: Logan, Utah (Dee Glen Smith Spectrum)
Radio: Vandal Radio Network/VandalXtra
Television: KMYU (Local)/ESPN Full Court
Online Video: www.UtahStateAggies.com/ESPN3
Live Stats: www.UtahStateAggies.com
A Look at the Aggies
Utah State is 12-1 overall and enters Saturday’s game on an 11-game winning streak after its 75-66 win over Seattle U on Thursday. The Aggies are 8-1 at home this season and have won their last seven in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. USU is one of just 13 teams nationally shooting .500 or better from the floor (.504). The Aggies average 72.3 points per game, while holding opponents to 62.8 points and .410 shooting. USU leads the WAC and ranks 14th nationally with a +9.2 rebounding margin. Three Aggies average more than 12 points per game and four individual players are shooting better than .500 from the field this season. Opposing teams are averaging 7.5 made 3-pointers per game against Utah State, but shoot just .340 from beyond the arc.
Utah State Head Coach Stew Morrill
Stew Morrill is in his 27th year as a collegiate head coach and his 15th season at Utah State. He holds a career coaching record of 575-258 at Montana, Colorado State and Utah State, and a 357-120 tally with the Aggies. He’s led his teams to eight NCAA Tournaments and six NIT appearances. Morrill is the winningest coach in USU history and the Aggies have a 218-19 (.920) home record since he took over in the 1998-99 season.
Idaho overcame a sluggish first 10 minutes offensively at San Jose State in a 64-55 road win to start Western Athletic Conference play with a 2-0 record for the first time since joining the league in the 2005-06 season. Idaho shot .500 from the floor in the game and held the Spartans to a .282 clip - the lowest ever for an Idaho opponent in WAC play. In the game, senior center Kyle Barone notched his third-consecutive double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Vandals vs. Aggies
Idaho and Utah State split the regular-season series last year, then met in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, where the Aggies took a 76-56 win at Logan, Utah. The Vandals have beaten the Aggies each of the last two seasons at the Cowan Spectrum, but haven’t tallied a road win in the series since Mar. 1, 2003. Overall, USU holds a 35-14 edge in the series that dates back to the 1945-46 season. The teams have faced off as conference foes every season since 1996-97.
A Little Bit of History
Idaho head coach Don Verlin has been a part of several dozen victories in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum - just never as a head coach. Before taking the Idaho job, he was an assistant under Stew Morrill first at Colorado State for four seasons, then 11 more at Utah State. Verlin has gotten the better of his mentor in each of the last two seasons at the Cowan Spectrum, but is 0-5 in road games against the Aggies since the 2008-09 season.
That’s a Lot of Misses
On Jan. 3, Idaho took a road win at San Jose State and held the Spartans to .282 overall shooting in the game. It was Idaho’s lowest opponent FG percentage of the Western Athletic Conference era and the lowest against a conference opponent since holding UC Santa Barbara to a .213 clip on Feb. 5, 2004, at the Cowan Spectrum. You’d have to go back 20 years to find a time the Vandals held a conference opponent to a lower field goal percentage in a road game, though. That game was a 52-43 Vandal win at Idaho State in which Idaho limited the Bengals to a .250 (14-56) field goal percentage on Mar. 6, 1993.
Conference Road Warriors
Idaho has started out a conference schedule with three-consecutive road games just seven times since the 1963-64 season. It hasn’t been a successful history in those situations. Just once before this season (1967, 2-1) did Idaho post a winning record in those three opening games. The Vandals already have won their first two games of the road slate this season, and if they win on Saturday, it will be the first time in the modern era of Idaho basketball (1963-present) that the team has won three-straight road games to open a conference season.
A Natural Fit
With relatively little point guard experience returning for Idaho this year, senior guard Mike McChristian started Idaho’s first eight games at the point. The emergence of JC transfers Robert Harris and Denzel Douglas has allowed McChristian to focus on his primary wing position, and he’s prospering. In his four games since making the switch, McChristian is averaging 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists, along with 47 percent overall and 43 percent 3-point shooting.
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