Without Rylan Jones Healthy, Aggies Ceiling Remains Limited

Jan 18, 2023, 9:51 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2023, 1:26 pm

SALT LAKE CITY –  A simple glance at the box score doesn’t paint a full picture of what senior point guard Rylan Jones provides for Ryan Odom’s Utah State team.

Utah State has been without Jones since taking a hit in loss at Boise State on  January 7. He has been in concussion protocol since that day.

Jones missed three games earlier this season for a similar injury after sustaining a hit against Utah Tech on December 1.

Averaging 4.2 points and 3.3 assists per game this year, Jones’ impact extends beyond the stat sheet.

“Rylan brings so much consistency and stability to the Aggies. That is so tough to replicate,” Aggie play-by-play voice Scott Garrard said of the senior point guard.

“He always seems to make the right play at the right time. Replacing his experience will be very difficult if he remains out for a significant amount of time.”

RELATED: Road Woes, Late Game Execution Remain Question Marks For Utah State

Bench Suffers With Steven Ashworth Starting

Junior point guard Steven Ashworth has been great for the Aggies this season. The guard from Alpine, UT leads USU in scoring per game (15.5), is second in assists per game (4.4).

In nine starts, Ashworth averages a respectable 14.3 points and 4.6 assists per game. Through ten games off the bench, Ashworth’s scoring jumps to 16.6 points per game while his assist number drops to 4.2.

But beyond Ashworth’s own numbers, the Aggie second unit sees a serious drop-off in potency with Ashworth in the starting five.

Overall, USU averages 29.4 points per game off the bench, good for 19th in the nation.

In Ashworth’s nine starts, that number craters to 21.7 points per game off the bench. Throw out a 45 point bench effort against Westminster and that average falls even further, 18.8, which would tie Utah State with Hofstra as the 211th worst scoring bench in the country.

Shallow Bench, Big Minutes

An Aggie bench that looked like a strength early in the season was nearly unrecognizable on Tuesday night against UNLV. Along with Jones remaining out, Odom had to make up for the loss of his third most consistent player off the bench, Zee Hamoda, because of an illness.

“From a ball security stand point, Rylan is awesome,” Odom said following a 21-turnover performance against the Rebels. “Certainly it would have been helpful to have one more ball-handler out there.”

RELATED: Cardiac Kids: Utah State Completes Thrilling Win Over UNLV

“Rylan’s injury, coupled with USU having two scholarship players redshirting this season, has created depth challenges for this team at times during conference play, Garrard said of the short bench.

Without Hamoda or Jones, Odom was forced to play RJ Eytle-Rock 17 minutes and backup big man Szymon Zapala ended up playing three minutes as the Aggies used an eight man rotation to beat the Rebels.

Not having Jones for 20+ minutes a night has forced Ashworth to play big minutes. Averaging a cool 30 minutes per game with Jones healthy, Ashworth has played a team-high 34.7 minutes per game, including a 39 minute performance against UNLV.

For a guy listed at 6’1 and 170 pounds, that kind of a workload will eventually take its toll.

Without a third true point guard on the roster, Odom is limited in his options.

“Steven can be out of the game and you still have a point guard in there,” Odom said of Jones. “Rylan is really good at playing against pressure defense. It would always be helpful to have him.”

Up Next

The Aggies will face the San Jose State Spartans (12-6, 3-2) on Saturday, January 21. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. (MST) matinee.

Every Utah State basketball game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard on the call.

Coverage of Utah State University Athletics from KSL Sports can be found here. 

  • Utah State Aggies Scoreboard

  • Utah State Aggies Team Leaders

  • Utah State Aggies Standings

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Without Rylan Jones Healthy, Aggies Ceiling Remains Limited