UTAH STATE AGGIES
Utah State Prepares For Fresno State As Road Woes Mount
LOGAN, Utah – Utah State head coach Ryan Odom looked on as San Diego State dribbled out the final 12 seconds of the Aggies third straight road loss.
USU fell behind big early as the defense suffered unexpected breakdowns. Sharpshooter Adam Seiko went 6-of-6 from deep in the first half, making four threes in less than three minutes across one stretch. Led by Seiko, SDSU built a 20-point first half lead.
“They were playing well and we were kind of back on our heels. Then we settled in and started to play,” Odom said of the start.
Adam Seiko is beating @USUBasketball himself in the first half tonight with 5-of-5 shooting from deep
SDSU holds a 26-11 lead with nine minutes left in the 1st half#AggiesAllTheWay
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) January 26, 2023
Try as they might, even cutting the lead to six late in the second half, the Aggies didn’t have enough weapons or stops to dig out of the hole they had found themselves in. USU would go on to lose by ten.
RELATED: Second Half Comeback Falls Short, Utah State’s Road Struggles Continue
“We can’t be tentative to start games against quality competition like this. We have to believe that we belong in the game. The second it starts we have to be the aggressor. We have to be the hunter.”
Aggies Yet To Find Road Consistency
The losses at Boise State, Nevada and San Diego State share two important similarities. Each has come by double-digits; and each has seen the Utah State offense go dormant for extended periods of time.
RELATED: Without Rylan Jones Healthy, Aggies Ceiling Remains Limited
In Boise, the Broncos came out hot and never cooled off as the Aggies never really mounted a threat. Boise State led wire-to-wire in the 82-59 demolition.
Following a 20-point home win over Wyoming, the Aggies again found themselves saddled with a road loss. This time it was the Nevada Wolfpack running away from the Aggies late for an 85-70 win.
“We’re winning the majority of the game,” Odom said recalling the loss. “Then all of a sudden it’s 64-64 and they go on a big run to separate.”
RELATED: Road Woes, Late Game Execution Remain Question Marks For Utah State
That run Odom refers to was a 6:51 scoreless stretch that allowed the Wolfpack to go on a 19-0 run in the late stages of the second half. USU kept the game close until that all too familiar cold shooting stretch settled in.
A similar 6:13 first half scoreless streak aided the Aztecs on Wednesday night.
Certainly the return of starting point guard Rylan Jones would have an impact, though Jones’ presence is often felt more dramatically in ways not reflected by the box score.
With or without Jones, Utah State knows the question. If they expect to get a shot at the Big Dance in March, they’ll have to find a way to prevent these extended stretches of offensive stagnation.
Odom’s message is simple.
“We’ve got to be in the game from the beginning. We’ve got to believe that we need to be in the game from the beginning. You want to be in the game.”
Fresno State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs, led by Justin Hutson in his fifth season with the program, have been a different team at home than on the road this season. Five of their seven wins have some at the Save Mart Center, in front of a rabid fan base. They already have wins against a 13-7 UNLV team, Wyoming and an undefeated at the time, Top-25 ranked New Mexico. As of Thursday, the Bulldogs were eighth in the Mountain West, just behind Air Force.
As a team, FSU scores 60.9 points per game while allowing 62.9. Their biggest downfall offensively is a lack of perimeter shooting. They shoot Mountain West worst 28.4 percent from deep, making less than six threes per contest.
Three Bulldogs average double figure scoring led by Elijah Harkless’ 12.1 points per game. His 7.9 rebounds per game also leads the team. Jemarl Baker Jr. (10.9 ppg) and Isaiah Hill (10.4 ppg) round out the trio.
It was Baker that did the most of the damage in Logan, scoring 20 points on an inefficient 8-of-18 from the field. Leo Colimerio was the only other Bulldog to score in double-figures, finishing with 10.
The Aggies continue a road swing through California on Saturday, January 28 when the take on the Fresno State Bulldogs (7-12, 3-5). Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 5 p.m. (MST). Utah State captured the first matchup this season, winning in convincing fashion on New Year’s Eve, 67-54.
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