Texas-Arlington (8-8) at Utah State (14-3) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The Utah State Aggies try to get back to their comfort zone on Thursday night, as they entertain the Mavericks of Texas-Arlington in Western Athletic Conference action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
One of the hottest programs in the WAC earlier in the campaign, the Aggies are now trying to avoid a three-game slide. Last week's road trip with stops at New Mexico State (64-51) and Denver (68-57) dropped Utah State to 5-2 in conference and that means the program is now sitting in fourth place, even though it has the second-best overall record (14-3) in the league.
As for the Mavericks, they are trapped in a three-way tie for fifth place in the WAC with San Jose State and Idaho with a 3-4 mark. Like the Aggies, UTA has also dropped back-to-back contests, the latest being a 77-64 final versus the Vandals at home last weekend.
Utah State won the first and only meeting between these two programs last season by a score of 73-69 at home.
The Mavericks shot just 37.5 percent from the field and 6-of-25 (.240) beyond the arc in their meeting with Idaho last Saturday. But another issue for UTA was at the free-throw line where the team connected on just 10-of-17 and while that still wasn't enough to sway the decision, had the Mavericks done better at the stripe they could have put together at least a minor run down the stretch. Kevin Butler was good for 15 points, shooting only 4-of-12 from the floor, and Shaq White-Miller another 10 in a reserve role. For a team that is generating just 60.8 ppg at the moment, it should not come as a surprise that the squad doesn't have a single double-digit scorer to lean on right now. Butler is coming up with 9.5 ppg, be he is doing so only after shooting 39.8 percent from the field and 28.6 percent behind the 3-point line.
The Aggies fell behind Denver immediately during their meeting at Magness Arena last Saturday and never recovered, trailing by as many as 22 points in the second half before making the loss a bit more respectable. Marvin Jean tossed in 14 points, hitting 4-of-6 beyond the arc, and Jarred Shaw accounted for 10 points and nine rebounds for a squad that held the Pioneers to just 17 rebounds, two on the offensive glass. Life for the Aggies has changed tremendously in the last week or so with Preston Medlin suffering a broken wrist, and Kyisean Reed exiting for knee surgery. Medlin (16.3 ppg) had been the main 3-point threat for USU, but that now falls to Spencer Butterfield (9.3 ppg), while Reed (12.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg) was a strength in the paint. Shaw (12.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg) will now be asked to do even more in the absence of Reed.
Losing two crucial pieces of the starting lineup is a lot for any team to overcome and in the long run Utah State will probably have a lot of issues because of it, but for this bout the hosts should be able to survive.
GAME NOTES: The Utah State Aggies try to get back to their comfort zone on
Thursday night, as they entertain the Mavericks of Texas-Arlington in Western
Athletic Conference action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah.
Television: KMYU. Home Record: UTA 2-6, USU 10-1. Away Record: UTA 6-2, USU
4-2. Neutral Record: UTA 0-0, USU 0-0. Conference Record: UTA 3-4, USU 5-2.
Series Record: Utah State leads, 1-0.Game Date and Time
Thursday, January 24, 9:05 p.m. (et)Predicted Outcome
Utah State 64, Texas-Arlington 60