Utah State Must Take Care Of Business At Home For NCAA Tournament Birth

Jan 30, 2023, 2:51 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Sitting at 17-5 and fifth in the Mountain West conference, the Aggies are well positioned to make a run over their final nine games.

Picked to finish eighth in the Mountain West preseason poll, Utah State matched their 2021-22 win total with a 70-53 road win against Fresno State.

With a 6-3 conference record, the Aggies have solidified their spot in fifth place and seem to serve as a sort of dividing line for the haves and have nots in the Mountain West.

RELATED: Dan Akin Leads Utah State To Gigantic Road Win At Fresno State

USU is 0-3 with a (-48) scoring margin against conference leaders San Diego State, Boise State and Nevada. A home test against New Mexico looms on Wednesday night.

Against the six teams below them in the standings, Utah State is 6-0 with a (+65) scoring margin. Colorado State, the only team the Aggies have yet to play, host USU on Saturday, February 4 at 6 p.m.(MST)

After a front-loaded Mountain West first half schedule, especially on the road, the Aggies play four of their next six games at home. Of the four teams on top in the Mountain West, only Boise State doesn’t come to Logan during that stretch. The Broncos are scheduled for a Spectrum showdown in the last game of the regular season on March 4.

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

Halfway through the conference season, USU can still control their own destiny while having a punchers chance at their 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance in March.

Not bad for a team picked to finish eighth.

No. 25 New Mexico Lobos (19-3, 6-3)

The Lobos are led by, Richard Pitino, the son of Hall of Famer Rick Pitino. In his second season with New Mexico, Pitino led New Mexico to 13 wins last season, a seven win improvement over the previous year.

Two players with NBA bloodlines lead New Mexico’s offensive attack. Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaelen House have been a handful for defenses all season. Mashburn leads the Mountain West at 19.5 points per game. House is third in the MW, averaging 17.4 points per game. Both players shoot better than 45 percent from the floor while hovering around the 40 percent mark from three.

RELATED: Without Rylan Jones Healthy, Aggies Ceiling Remains Limited

When shots aren’t falling, the Lobos depend on the rebounding talents of Morris Udeze and Josiah Allick. The top two rebounders in the MW, the pair combines for nearly 17 rebounds, including five offensive, per game. Udeze is the seventh leading scorer in the conference at 15.7 points per game.

Utah State ball handlers will have their work cut out for them as House leads the league with 2.9 steals per game. As a team, the Lobos create 13 turnovers and 6.1 steals per game.

Beyond those mentioned above, the Lobos don’t have a lot of depth. Only the five starters average 20 minutes or more per game. All but Javonté Johnson play over 30 minutes a night. Off the bench, KJ Jenkins and Donovan Kent combine to average 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

For Salt Lake Community College Bruin, Jay Allen-Tovar, announced his intention to enter the transfer portal in November and has not been with the program since. Tovar led the Lobos in rebounding last season.

Up Next

Utah State returns home for a big matchup against New Mexico on Wednesday, February 1. New Mexico was the last remaining unbeaten team this season. This will be the only meeting of the regular season between these teams. The Aggies then head back out on the road where they will take on the Colorado State Rams on Saturday, February 4. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 4 p.m. (MST).

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. 

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Utah State Must Take Care Of Business At Home For NCAA Tournament Birth