Utah State and Texas A&M meet in South Regional action
Spokane, WA (Sports Network) - Aggies will collide in first-round action in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament, when Utah State and Texas A&M meet at the Spokane Memorial Arena.
The Aggies from Utah State will be making their 19th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and the second in a row. Utah State, which is just 6-20 all-time in the Big Dance, suffered a first round loss to Marquette in last season's tournament. This year the Aggies finished with a 27-7 record, and captured the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title, but suffered a loss to New Mexico State in the WAC Tournament.
As for the Aggies from the Lone Star State, they finished with a 23-9 record on the year, and that included an 11-5 mark in Big 12 action. The successful campaign landed the Aggies in their fifth straight NCAA Tournament and the team's 11th in school history. Texas A&M is just 8-11 in this event, but over the past four showings the team is a mediocre 5-4. Last season the Aggies defeated BYU in the first round, but then suffered an embarrassing, 92-66 setback to Connecticut in the second round.
This is the third ever contest between the two schools on the hardwood, but the first meeting since the 1983-84 campaign. Utah State grabbed a 94-71 victory in the first matchup, but the Aggies responded with a 78-73 decision over Utah State in the next meeting.
The winner of this contest will head to the second round to battle either Siena or Purdue.
Utah State's success this season can be attributed to the team's tenacious efforts at the defensive end of the court, as the Aggies come into this tournament holding opponents to just 59.6 ppg. Teams are shooting 40.3 percent against Utah State, but the team has done a solid job defending behind the arc, limiting the opposition to a meager 31.8 percent clip from long range. At the other end of the court the team is being led by Tai Wesley, who is averaging team highs in points (13.6 ppg), rebounds (6.6 rpg) and blocks (44). Jared Quayle however, seems to be the team's best option on the floor, as the guard comes into this matchup with 12.5 ppg, to go along with a team-best 143 assists and 6.3 rpg. Quayle is also the team's top threat from behind the arc, as the guard is connecting on 43.9 percent of his attempts from long range (68-of-155). Nate Bendall is helping out with 10.4 ppg for Utah State, which as a whole is producing a respectable 73.7 ppg.
Stingy defense has also been the key to Texas A&M's success, as the squad is limiting the opposition to just 64.9 ppg. Texas A&M is allowing opponents to shoot 41.1 percent from the floor, but the squad has held the opposition to a poor 33.6 percent effort from behind the arc. The Aggies are also forcing 14.1 turnovers per contest, and have collected 211 steals on the year. Offensively however, the team has been mildly successful this season, averaging 71.8 ppg, behind a 44.2 percent shooting effort. Texas A&M however, has struggled from long range and from the charity stripe, netting just 33.3 percent of its three-point attempts, and only 66.1 percent of its foul shots. Donald Sloan is the only real scoring threat for the Aggies, as the guard is leading the team with 18.2 ppg. Bryan Davis is contributing 9.5 ppg on the year for Texas A&M, and is also leading the team with 7.9 rpg and 56 blocks.
03/19 10:39:39 ET