This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Logan • On paper, Utah State doesn't have much to play for on Saturday against Idaho at the Spectrum.
The Aggies, thanks to New Mexico State's loss to San Jose State on Wednesday night, have already wrapped up the Western Athletic Conference title, their fourth consecutive championship. And there are three games remaining until the league tournament, so the postseason isn't quite upon them.
But that's just paper. Speaking to the USU players and Stew Morrill, it's obvious that the Aggies are taking every game seriously.
For one, it will be senior night at the Spectrum, where Morrill will say his goodbyes to six players, and what has arguably been the most successful class of his tenure. For another, the Vandals are the only WAC team to beat Utah State this season.
"It's our last home game on Saturday," Tai Wesley said. "This will be special for us seniors. Some of have been here five years, I've been here longer. Nobody wants to lose this game. It's Idaho and we feel like we owe them one. There's going to be no complacency with us."
Utah State clearly thinks it needs to keep winning, even with the national ranking, even with a resume that many think can absorb at least one loss and still receive an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
The Aggies think they are on the verge of potentially garnering a single-digit seed in the Big Dance. That's something Utah State hasn't accomplished. Plus, the great win over St. Mary's doesn't look so great because the Gaels lost to Gonzaga on Thursday night and have seen their RPI fall out of the top 50.
"We know this," senior forward Pooh Williams said. "At the end of the day, we're still looked at as a mid-major team. We have to go in with the mindset that nothing will be given to us. So we have to keep winning. We have to remove all doubt. Even with the year that we're having, we're approaching every game like it's a must-win."
Of great concern for the Aggies is Idaho, which is playing as well as any team in the conference right now.
Three weeks ago, the Vandals defense swarmed Utah State, knocked the Aggies off kilter and beat USU pretty handily.
Utah State didn't make many open jumpers that night. The Aggies didn't defend well down the stretch, either.
"We have to improve if we want to beat them," Morrill said. "Idaho's in a rhythm, they're playing well and they're coached very well. We have to come out and play well if we want to have a chance to win."
Idaho at Utah State
P At the Spectrum, Logan
Tipoff • 7 p.m.
TV • None
Radio • 610 AM
Records • Utah State 25-3, 12-1; Idaho 16-11, 8-6
Series history • Utah State leads 32-13
Last Meeting • Idaho, 64-56 (Feb. 2011)
About the Vandals • Idaho defeated Nevada on Thursday in its most recent game. … Vandals point guard Deremy Geiger is a former Utah State point guard and makes his return to the Spectrum. … Jeff Ledbetter averages 12.3 points per game. … Idaho is 8-6 on the road this season.
About the Aggies • Utah State is celebrating senior night and saying goodbye to six players. … The Aggies have already won the WAC and plan to cut down the nets after the game win or lose. … Tai Wesley is a three-time WAC player of the week. … Utah State has had seven different players lead the team in scoring this season.