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For streaking Utah State, toughest challenge straight ahead

Published January 14, 2013 5:46 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The longest win streak in the country, at 13 straight games, belongs to Kansas.

Oh, and Utah State.

Believe it: The Aggies now have a chain of wins that's among the best in school history. And yet, it almost doesn't feel that way, with narrow depth and a large group of newcomers. A few wins on that streak are definitely cupcakes: No one will bring up Nicholls State or Idaho State when discussing Utah State's non-conference profile for the NCAA tournament.

Still, it's hard to deny the Aggies could be on the verge of something special. The team is one of the best-shooting programs in the country (49.6 percent from the floor, 37.7 percent from 3-point range), one of the better rebounding teams (plus-8.7), and improving with taking care of the ball (1.34 assist-to-turnover ratio). Statistically, you can see the reasons why the Aggies are getting it done.

In turn, Utah State is getting some national recognition. The Aggies moved up into the top 100 in RPI for the first time all year, now at No. 87. College Insider ranks Utah State as its No. 4 mid-major team, while the most recent ESPN poll has them at No. 6. There's a long way up, but the program also has a vote each in the AP poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll.

Somebody out there believes.

But there's no doubt that the road gets tougher ahead. Utah State has beaten UTSA, Texas State, Seattle, Idaho and San Jose — the bottom five teams in the WAC standings. Three of them have yet to win a conference game.

This week, Utah State heads to New Mexico State, then Denver, the No. 4 and No. 3 teams respectively. After that, Louisiana Tech visits the next week, and the Bulldogs are the only other undefeated WAC team.

Utah State has feasted on the bottom of the conference to start. That's not without benefit, as it has helped build confidence. But the real test is the next two weeks.

If the win streak survives that four-game stretch, that will start to turn some heads.

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon




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