Louisiana Tech will present tough defensive match-ups for Aggies

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Stew Morrill gave some credit to UT Arlington's defense on Thursday night. But he acknowledged that Louisiana Tech will be a whole different game.

"Give them credit, they're good defensively," "They hound you, they press you a little bit. But the pressure is nothing like we're going to see Saturday."

The Bulldogs are a different cut of team, strong offensively and defensively. They'll present a host of new problems for Utah State, but defense will be one of those.

In the middle, Louisiana Tech boasts one of the nation's best shot-blockers in Michale Kyser. The 6-foot-9 forward averages a robust 3.2 swats a game.

But the Bulldogs are also the best in the WAC around the perimeter, holding opponents to less than 30 percent from beyond the arc. They're second in the WAC in steals per game with 8.6.

Unfortunately for the Aggies, these strengths appear to present a tough match-up. The Aggies have struggled with physically challenging opponents in the paint. They've had a problem with taking care of the ball and giving up turnovers. They've become reliant on the 3-point shot, so when those don't fall, offense will be tough to come by.

Louisiana Tech will turn up the pressure, playing with size and athletes that UT Arlington did not possess. That might be the most difficult challenge for Utah State, even with the Bulldogs coming in with Raheem Appleby and a league-best offense.

It's a big reason why the Aggies should hope for a packed house on Saturday, particularly following the football celebration. Home court advantage will be more crucial.

The greater concern is that a loss on Saturday could mean more negative momentum, with the Aggies rolling backward downhill.

"If you lose the first one of a home series, it's a challenge," Morrill said. "You've got to be tough and make sure you don't drop a couple."

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon