Saturday, March 7, 2009

San Jose State versus Utah State tonight

To Stew or not to Stew (Morrill) has thankfully been a long settled question in Logan. Yes, there are those who dream about what another coach could and would do to raise the Utah State men's basketball program beyond its very successful Mid-Majority status but it's the fringe who bother with this fantasy. So let's cut the coaching segment short here as it's a long settled question.

In the previous game between these two team on January 22, we wrote:
A summary of tonight's game is somewhat difficult to compose because there were just a couple of elements that stood out. After a misfiring beginning, Aggie Gary Wilkinson came on and resonated with consistent scoring all night, finishing with 25 points. It did take him 19 shots to reach that total but it appeared he primarily got the shots he and Coach Stew Morrill wanted.

And we counted but one run in the game, it taking place soon after the second half. Utah State took advantage of a quick bevy of San Jose State turnovers and extended a small lead into a double digit one and remained ahead the rest of the game. During this time, Utah State's Tyler Newbold seemingly set up shop in the right corner and nailed two wide open three-pointers combined with another Aggie deuce. But Newbold wasn't quite done as he also then totaled another trey along with a followup two-pointer -- this after being relatively quiet earlier in the contest.

A Wilkinson dunk at the 15:12 mark gave Utah State a 42-30 lead. With 4:40 showing, USU was ahead 55-46.

With less than a minute to go, Aggie point Jared Quayle (who had a tough time at the foul line going 4-7) missed a free throw and Justin Graham scored on a layup to cut the deficit to six, 58-52, with 48.7 seconds on the clock.

Tai Wesley was fouled but he also missed a shot at the charity stripe and Graham nailed another layup plus an and/one free throw at the other end to make it 58-55 with 35.5 seconds left.

But Quayle came through at the 31.1 mark when fouled again as he nailed both foul shot attempts to provide breathing room for the Aggies.

SJSU's Robert Owens then put down a trey to cut the lead back to two, 60-58.

After a Utah State time out, Tyler Newbold was fouled with 22.1 seconds remaining and missed both attempts (he's a 73% shooter for the season).

Trailing by two, Graham brought the ball down for San Jose State, penetrated on a dribble-drive but his shot rolled around the rim and out. Utah State rebounded and eventually Stavon Williams was fouled and nailed both his foul shots to put the game away.

Chris Oakes worked hard all evening and collected yet another double-double, this one consisting of 11 points and 13 rebounds. He also blocked a pair of shots and passed for two assists.

The Spartans shot 47% for the night to 38% for the Aggies. USU entered the game shooting 51% for the season, 48% in WAC play. San Jose State's seasonal shooting numbers: 44% and 42% respectively to date.

SJSU also won the rebounding battle 36-28 but the breakdown was a bit wacky as the Spartans grabbed nine offensive and 27 defensive boards. Utah State's rebounding numbers were 14 apiece.

San Jose State also scored better in the paint, 34 to 22.

However, the Aggies had but four turnovers to 12 for SJSU and Utah State generated 18 points from these miscues.

Do note Quayle's bountiful line: 13 points, six boards, four steals, four assists and zero turnovers. We were joking somewhat with the line about him being the most valuable Aggie but...

San Jose State began the game with crisp offensive ballhandling and passing, leading to solid shooting. The Spartans led 6-2, 7-4 and 12-8, the latter at the 11:03 mark of the opening 20 minutes.

A Wilkinson three-pointer put Utah State up 21-18, giving the Aggies their first lead.

At the half, USU led 27-24, with Wilkinson totaling 14 points. The biggest lead for Morrill's team was five while SJSU's largest advantage was four points.

WAC Play To Date

1/05/09 Idaho W 70-61
1/08/09 @ Louisiana Tech W 50-37
1/10/09 @ New Mexico State W 77-67
1/15/09 Fresno State W 65-61
1/17/09 Boise State W 79-65
01/22/09 @ San Jose State W, 62-58
01/24/09 @ at Hawaii W, 67-51
01/29/09 Nevada W, 72-61
01/31/09 @ Fresno State W, 83-77 (ot)
02/05/09 New Mexico State W, 78-59
02/07/09 Louisiana Tech W, 60-52
02/12/09 @ Idaho W, 62-53
02/14/09 @ Boise State L, 66-56

02/18/09 CS Bakersfield W, 78-57
02/21/09 @ Saint Mary's L, 75-64

02/26 Hawaii W, 82-62
02/28/09 @ Nevada L, 84-71

The Aggie Starting Five

6-9 Gary Wilkinson -- He's not always physical in the paint but generally plays smart with his positioning and can also shoot some facing the basket. Wilkinson will be the WAC most valuable player this season. His back is supposedly bothering him but it's hard to tell.

6-7 Tai Wesley -- He's sort of the team enforcer who can and will play physical but sometimes gets overly enthusiastic with this aspect and commits silly fouls.

6-4 Tyler Newbold -- Newbold hasn't enjoyed the breakout season we expected of him (with Jaycee Carroll's departure) but he's still just a sophomore. He's the best defender on the team and rarely makes mistakes as his marvelous assist-to-turnover ratio details.

6-3 Pooh Williams -- He's another strong defender -- his best quality -- but he's an opportunistic shooter who is improving in that aspect as the season concludes.

6-1 Jared Quayle -- The junior college transfer does just about everything for the Aggies -- good shooting, strong rebounding, a fine assist-to-turnbover ratio and he leads the team in steals.

The Bench

6-8 Matt Formisano -- He is the top fill-in for Wilkinson and Wesley, someone who plays intelligently with limited scoring and rebounding prowess.

6-3 Stavon Williams -- Guard him at the three-point line and beyond as he's shooting it if given the opportunity. His percentages have dropped a bit of late though.

5-9 Jaxon Myaer -- He played more early in the season -- before Quayle came on so well -- but hasn't shot effectively and his assist-to-turnover numbers are about even.

6-7 Brady Jardine -- He was activated after redshirting most of the season because 6-10 soph Modou Niang busted a hand. Jardine is a super athlete who will really help down the road and should provide some Aggie YouTube highlights before he is done in Logan.

The Utah State Roster (alphabetical and by position)

Skyler Halford 6-1/170 freshman guard
Deremy Geiger 5-10/165 freshman guard
Stavon Williams 6-3/180 junior guard
Jared Quayle 6-1/180 junior guard
Dominique Cooks 6-3/200 freshman guard
Tyler Newbold 6-4/200 sophomore guard
Jaxon Myaer 5-9/165 freshman guard

Brady Jardine 6-7/220 freshman guard/forward
Pooh Williams 6-3/200 sophomore guard/forward

Clint Lee 6-5/195 junior forward
Tai Wesley 6-7/240 sophomore forward
Matt Formisano 6-8/235 sophomore forward

Modou Niang 6-10/220 sophomore center (out with a busted hand)
Gary Wilkinson 6-9/240 senior center

What Else

*** Coming off a 13-point spanking at Nevada, the Aggies have Senior Night in their favor, in addition to the usual Spectrum mania from the students. That's a trifecta non-mid majority teams wouldn't look forward to facing

*** USU is shooting .475% in league play to 42% for opponents, 39% to 32% on three point attempts

*** No team in the WAC controls tempo better than Utah State -- it's an impossibility to get the Aggies out of running their sets

*** The USU players understand, accept and fulfill their assigned roles better than any other group in the WAC -- just another reason for the steadiness and success of the squad

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