USU men's basketball • Coach Morrill's assistant for 15 years coaches the Vandals.
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One benefit of shifting conferences: Utah State won't have to play Idaho twice a season.
That's something that comforts Stew Morrill as he prepares to face his assistant of 15 years, Don Verlin.
"I hope we never have to play them again," he said. "I hate playing my former assistants. I hate it. It's just no fun."
In many ways when the Vandals visit, Utah State will see a reflection of itself, or at least the program it has been. Strong post players, straight-shooting guards and a lot of passing to get the best shots.
Looming large on the Aggies' problems: handling center Kyle Barone. It's something they did well last year, coming away with victories in February and March against the Vandals. But Barone undoubtedly is playing well this year, coming into the matchup with three straight double-doubles.
Kyisean Reed is coming off of his best games of the year, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds against Seattle. But while praising Reed for making the most of his senior year, Morrill also said the team was looking for more from Jarred Shaw.
Since starting out as a double-double player, the junior has cooled at times. He's still leading the team in rebounds and is one of the scoring focal points. He contributed three blocks as well against Seattle.
But Morrill said he'd appreciate more consistency, especially with the likelihood that Shaw will spend most of his minutes matched up with Barone.
"He gets banged a little bit, and people can take him out by being physical," Morrill said Thursday night. "He misses a few shots, and then he's not much of a factor. He's got to be stronger mentally, stronger physically, and not be so concerned about scoring and some of those kinds of things. We need him to step up and play."
Davis, Medlin generous with the dishes
Marcel Davis had another un-freshmanlike game, with 13 points and a season-high seven assists against Seattle.
Davis' vision is becoming a huge asset to the Aggies. He drove in and freed up a post player for a hoop several times during the Seattle game. His passes weren't always converted, but they almost always did lead to good opportunities.
But Davis wasn't the only guy who was setting up his teammates. Preston Medlin, who was earlier in a more limited role, seems to have struck a good balance as a scorer and an assist man. He scored 18 points to help jolt the Aggies out of a second-half slump, but he also dished out five assists during the game.
Both have been key in a renewed emphasis to taking care of the ball. A team-low eight turnovers was a victory for Utah State's struggles to keep the ball in their possession this year.
Idaho at Utah State
• 7:05 p.m. Saturday