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Logan • Utah State has had a difficult season with injuries, transfers and defections eating into a squad that was supposed to challenge for a fifth consecutive Western Athletic Conference title.
Next year hasn't even happened yet, and already the Aggies have suffered a huge blow to their 2012-2013 team.
Brady Jardine, the all-conference power forward, will have career-ending foot surgery, the school announced late Monday. Jardine, who's been injured since early on, had said he was going to play next season. But he has seen little progress or improvement with the torn ligaments he suffered against Southern Utah.
"Brady Jardine is a winner in all aspects of his life, and it's a shame that he will not get to have a senior season," USU head coach Stew Morrill said. "He was a big part of three WAC titles and got to play with great teammates. Our program will always be indebted to Brady, and I feel honored to have coached such a quality player and person."
Jardine made a name for himself as one of the best rebounders in the WAC, and one of its best dunkers. His throw-down against Saint Mary's in last year's bracketbuster gained national attention and was a lasting image of the kind of player he was.
With Jardine, who was expected to start next season, the front court would've been crowded. Without him, Kyisean Reed will again play a big role, as will incoming junior college forward Sean Harris. Two transfers, Matt Lopez and Jarred Shaw, will be eligible to play as well.
With a 12-12 record, a four-game road losing streak and a disheartening loss to Fresno State on Saturday night, the Aggies know a fifth consecutive WAC men's basketball title is out of the question.
But the Aggies have a season-high five-game homestand over the next three weeks, with the chance to use the Spectrum to gain some traction in what has been a difficult year.
Three of those games are conference matchups, crucial because winning would put USU in the best possible position to make a run through the league tournament in a month. UC Santa Barbara, a bracketbuster matchup, and Montana Tech next week are the other two games.
"It's an important stretch for us," sophomore forward Danny Berger said. "We have a chance to gain some momentum, and we have to take advantage of this."
USU's game against New Mexico State will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday to accommodate ESPN2. … Utah State is 10-2 at home this season.