FACTS & STATS: Site: KeyArena (8,500) -- Seattle, Washington. Television: ROOT-NW. Home Record: USU 10-3, Seattle 5-8. Away Record: USU 5-2, Seattle 2-5. Neutral Record: USU 0-0, Seattle 0-0. Conference Record: USU 6-4, Seattle 2-8. Series Record: Utah State leads, 16-14.
GAME NOTES: Having put an end to a four-game slide on Thursday night, the Utah State Aggies try to start off the month of February on a positive note as they clash with the Seattle Redhawks in Western Athletic Conference play at KeyArena.
Considered one of the teams to beat in the WAC, especially after getting off to a 14-1 start, the Aggies fell on hard times last month as injuries mounted and they suffered through an uncharacteristic four-game losing streak. The team was able to put an end to the skid by taking out Idaho on the road two nights ago with a 77-67 victory. At 6-4 in WAC play, USU is now sitting in fourth place in the standings.
As for the Redhawks, one of the latest additions to the league, they are ninth in the standings due to having just two wins in 10 chances. Like the Aggies, Seattle was dealing with a losing streak coming into this week as well, but on Thursday night the team put an end to that three-game slide with a 56-48 win over San Jose State at home. In this outing the Redhawks seek back-to-back wins for just the second time this season.
USU won the first meeting of the season with Seattle last month at home by a score of 75-66 as Kyisean Reed recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds and Preston Medlin accounted for 18 points and five assists. However, both of those players have since suffered major injuries and they will not be in action again this weekend or anytime soon.
The Aggies now lead the all-time series, one that dates back to the 1956-57 campaign, by a 16-14 margin.
Utah State led the entire way against the Vandals a few nights back, the visitors shooting an impressive 59.6 percent from the floor in order to offset the 53.2 percent effort by the hosts. Jarred Shaw erupted for 27 points, hitting all but three of his 15 shot attempts, adding nine rebounds as the Aggies posted a 27-16 advantage on the glass over 40 minutes of action. Marcel Davis accounted for 16 points and Spencer Butterfield 11 and 10 boards, along with four assists. A starter in all 10 conference games this season, Butterfield has come on strong recently with three double-doubles in as many games, pushing him to 12.7 ppg and 6.7 rpg in league play. Shaw is now the active leading scorer with 13.6 ppg against the rest of the WAC, but that's still a far cry from the 20.7 ppg Medlin had been producing.
The Seattle defense really did a job on the Spartans two nights ago, forcing the visitors into 19 turnovers and limiting SJSU to only 30.6 percent shooting from the floor, as well as a meager 1-of-9 behind the 3-point line. However, aside from Prince Obasi who scored a game-high 19 points, the starters for the Redhawks did little to make the win happen as the remaining four combined to shoot just 3-of-16 from the floor. Louis Green and Jarell Flora helped to carry the load for the offense as they produced 13 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench but still the team shot only 38.6 percent overall and a miserable 1-of-15 beyond the arc. Clarence Trent and Deshaun Sunderhaus, both of whom failed to impress against SJSU, currently lead the team in scoring with 11.4 ppg and 10.1 ppg, respectively, as the group generates 68.3 ppg. Floundering at the free-throw line (.587) through 20 games, the Redhawks have been outscored at the charity stripe by 128 points already.
The Aggies are certainly better 3-point shooters than the Spartans, so Seattle needs to be ready to guard out on the perimeter on Saturday night. If it becomes a physical game, USU has the advantage as well due to Seattle's weak effort at the free-throw line this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 72, Seattle 61
02/02 10:33:00 ET
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