Idaho State (0-0) at Utah State (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 10, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: D.G. Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah. Television: Local. Home Record: ISU 0-0, USU 0-0. Away Record: ISU 0-0, USU 0-0. Neutral Record: ISU 0-0, USU 0-0. Conference Record: ISU 0-0, USU 0-0. Series Record: Utah State leads, 35-13.
GAME NOTES: One of the more dominant teams in the Western Athletic Conference over the last several years, the Utah State Aggies tip off their 2012-13 campaign tonight as they host the Idaho State Bengals in non-conference action at the Smith Spectrum in Logan.
Head coach Stew Morrill, who has a record of 345-119 as he enters his 15th year with Utah State, has his team again considered one of the favorites to take the WAC title this year, even though the team has lost a pair of starters from a year ago when they finished as a runner-up in the CIT and had an overall record of 21-16 and 8-6 in league action.
The 2011-12 campaign was somewhat of a letdown for USU, but still the program is one of only five schools in the nation to have produced at least 21 wins in each of the last 13 years, the others being Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas and Syracuse. During that stretch the Aggies have advanced to a postseason tournament every year and made it to the WAC Tournament title game a total of 10 times.
As for the Bengals, members of the Big Sky Conference and led by head coach Bill Evans, they managed just three total wins through the first week of January last season and eventually closed out on a five-game slide and losers of seven of their final eight contest. Overall, the team posted a record of just 9-21 and 7-9 in league play.
The Aggies have dominated this series, posting a mark of 35-13 thanks to a run of 13 straight victories in a relationship that stretches back to 1942-43. Utah State captured a 75-62 win on the road in last year's matchup to give coach Morrill an unblemished mark of 9-0 versus ISU. The last win for the Bengals came at the tail end of 1981 when the squad squeezed out a 74-70 victory in Logan.
With an average of just under 66 ppg last season, the Bengals were far from a powerhouse on offense and the team figures to take a step back this year after losing two of their three double-digit scorers in Kenny McGowen (14.7 ppg) and Chase Grabau (12.8 ppg). On a positive note, Idaho State does have Melvin Morgan coming back after he put up 12.2 ppg, thanks in large part to his 39.6 percent accuracy from three-point range which was actually better than his 39.0 percent from the floor overall. Morgan led the team with 55 steals and was second on the unit with 83 assists, so now he needs to find a new pair of scoring threats that can generate points line Grabau and McGowen. Junior guard Andre' Hatchett could held to fill the void after he put up 7.4 ppg. Unfortunately, coming out of the gate the team is dealing with the loss of Sherrod Baldwin who has an issue with eligibility.
In last year's meeting, USU's Preston Medlin lit up the Bengals with eight three-point baskets to set a new career high and chances are he'll be gunning to exceed that total again tonight when he takes the floor for the Aggies in front of a raucous crowd. Medlin finished 2011-12 as the 16th-ranked three- point shooter in the country with 42.8 percent accuracy and because of him the team as a whole made good on 36.7 percent on the perimeter, compared to 33.0 percent for the opposition. Another key returning starter for the Aggies is Kyisean Reed who finished third on the team in scoring with 10.0 ppg, his 41 blocked shots tops on the squad. Remaining close to the basket, Reed cleared better than five rebounds per game and made good on 61.4 percent of his field goal chances.
Last season the Bengals were winless in nine true road games against non- conference opponents and given how dominant USU is in Logan these days, that trend figures to continue for Idaho State tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 74, Idaho State 61
11/10 10:32:30 ET