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Utah State basketball: Coach Stew Morrill draws hard line on Aggies' defensive mistakes

Published December 15, 2013 11:22 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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Logan • Utah State's defensive issues are getting the hard-line treatment at this point.

The Aggies had a better night defensively in a 71-60 win over Utah Valley on Saturday, but coach Stew Morrill said he's still seeing defensive errors that are leading to easy baskets. And he's not prepared to tolerate it anymore.

"We subbed some guys for making defensive errors, and we'll continue to do that until our defense gets better," he said. "Guy went back in and tried not to make those errors. Sometimes it might look like, 'Wow, a guy screws up, and he's out.' Right now, you're right."

The Aggies held the Wolverines to 33.3 percent shooting through one half, and only one field goal in the first 11:43 of the game. The defensive effort waned as the night went on, and UVU went on to outscore Utah State by 12 in the second half.

A whopping 13 players wound up seeing time, in part because the game was a blowout for most of the night, but Morrill said he subbed in a little more liberally than he usually would for defensive mistakes. The Aggies will tighten up their rotation as they get closer to Mountain West play, but Morrill would also like them to solidify their defense.

"It's not always been my philosophy, but if you make defensive errors you shouldn't make, you've got to get out," he said. "We've got to get better on defense. We took a step forward in that area tonight."

Kyle Davis returns

He looked a little stiff in warm-ups. But Kyle Davis looked anything but after the tipoff.

In his return to the starting lineup Saturday night against UVU, Davis notched 12 points — 10 in the first half — with seven rebounds and two blocks.

His health had been a worry entering the week, as he missed last week's game against Pacific with knee soreness. Morrill said he had lighter practices early in the week, and he had tape wrapping from his right ankle to his thigh, almost mummy-like.

But the bottom line was the Aggies were happy to have back their sophomore forward, who has blossomed into an impact player. His latest performance marked his third straight game scoring in double digits, and he's carving a role as a shot-blocker and putback-maker.

"He's a good hustle guy," Jarred Shaw said. "He's going to defend. It was good to have him back on the court."

Marcel Davis hurt

It wasn't long into his first start of the season that Marcel Davis had to come out.

The sophomore point guard got the nod against UVU, thanks to a strong game against Pacific the week before. But in the first timeout, he headed to get seven stitches after biting through his lip. He ended up playing only 18 minutes with a point and two assists.

The point guard spot has been fluid this year, and Morrill said he was glad to see a better effort out of TeNale Roland off the bench: five points and four assists. The Utah State coach indicated the team will continue to start Davis and bring Roland in off the bench after trying the reverse for the first seven games. —

Western Illinois vs. Utah State

P Basketball Travelers Classic, Thursday, 8 p.m.






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