With all the new faces around, it's understandable that not everyone on the Utah State basketball team remembers last year's loss in Ogden.
Coach Stew Morrill certainly does, and he remembers how Weber State set the nets on fire with 12 3-pointers, including seven from Scott Bamforth.
"The question is whether we're ready to defend the three better or not," Morrill says. "They push it hard on the break. Scott Bamforth, if you look at that game last year … they blew it open by outshooting us from deep."
Damian Lillard is gone to the NBA, but Bamforth will be back, and the Wildcats will be looking for another victory, this time in Logan. And if the Aggies hope to win their 27th straight in-state match-up at the Spectrum on Saturday night, they'll have to defend the perimeter.
That particular area of defense should be concerning for Utah State. In only three games, the Aggies have let up 25 shots from long range, and they're dead last in 3-point defense when stacked up against other Western Athletic Conference teams.
Part of the issue is that Utah State was concerned about defending other threats in those games, particularly against Saint Mary's (Calif.). But Weber State shoots nearly 49 percent from beyond the arc, so it's likely they'll be looking to launch it often from deep.
"We're looking to get them back," forward Danny Berger says. "They loaded up last year on us, and we know they've got shooters. We just have to defend the 3-point line better than we have."
That will include Bamforth as well as transfer Davion Berry, a childhood friend of Lillard who has led the team in scoring in both of its games. Keeping a rebounding edge Utah State is averaging 14 more boards per game than its opponents - should be key to the win as well, to prevent the Wildcats from getting second chances.
But Utah State is also looking to fire up its deep threats to help counter Weber's top scorers. So far, the long ball hasn't been much of a factor in the Aggies favor, as the team has made only 31.7 percent of its attempts.
Preston Medlin, who leads the team with five 3-pointers, expects that number to go up as the team starts to find a better offensive groove. Despite the holiday week, the Aggies felt good about some crisp practices they hope will translate to a more complete performance on Saturday.
"One of the best things has been our big guys and how they've been finishing," Medlin says. Hopefully that will continue and our shots will start falling. It's just about getting some open shots and some confidence."
College basketball Weber St. at Utah St.
P Tipoff • Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
Internet • www.utahstateaggies.com
Radio • 610 AM, 102.1 FM
TV • KMYU (Comcast 22, Dish 12, DirecTV 12)
Records • Utah State 2-1; Weber State 1-1
Series history • Utah State leads 38-26
Last meeting • WSU 73, USU 63 (Nov. 15, 2011)
About the Aggies • Utah State split a pair of games last week, losing to Saint Mary's but bouncing back with a win against Texas A&M Corpus Christi. … The Aggies have been impressive on the boards so far, averaging 14 more rebounds than their opponents. … Utah State has averaged 16 assists a game, which leads the Western Athletic Conference, and against Texas A&M-CC, point guard TeNale Roland had a season-best seven assists with no turnovers. … Junior center Jarred Shaw is averaging 14.0 ppg and 10.3 rpg.
About the Wildcats • The Wildcats are on the second game of a three-game trip, having lost the first in overtime to San Jose State. … Davion Berry, a transfer from Cal State Monterey Bay, has made a smooth transition to Division I, leading Weber State in scoring in each of its two games. … Freshman Joel Bolomboy is averaging 10.5 rebounds per game after only two college games in his career.
Online now • With all the new faces around, it's understandable that not everyone on the Utah State team remembers last year's loss at Weber State. Coach Stew Morrill certainly does. > sltrib.com/sports