San Jose St.-Utah St. Preview
After cruising through the regular season, Utah State earned the
top seed in the Western Athletic Conference tournament for a fourth
However, since nothing is guaranteed when it comes to earning an
NCAA tournament bid, it’s being careful not to get overly
The 23rd-ranked Aggies open conference tournament play Friday
night when they take on eighth-seeded San Jose State in a semifinal
Utah State (28-3) easily won the conference regular-season
title, finishing five games ahead of second-place Boise State. The
Aggies closed with six straight victories, including Saturday’s
72-30 rout at Louisiana Tech.
With the victory, Utah State set a school record for
regular-season wins. The Aggies won 26 of their final 27 games,
suffering their only conference loss at Idaho on Feb. 9.
Despite the impressive finish, Utah State wants to make sure
it’s a lock when it comes to Sunday’s NCAA tournament selection.
The Aggies received bids each of the last two seasons after being
passed over in 2008 despite winning the regular-season title. That
year, they lost in the second round of the conference
Coach Stew Morrill thinks his team has made a good case
“I’m not much for lobbying on those kind of things, but I think
our RPI, winning that number of games and winning our league by
five games, logic would tell you we’ve got enough,” Morrill said.
“But things aren’t logical, so we’ll see. We’re really not trying
to worry about that, either. We’re just going to go play the
tournament hard as we can play.”
Utah State has the conference player of the year in senior
forward Tai Wesley, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.9 rebounds while
shooting close to 60 percent from the field.
The Aggies open the tournament looking to win their eighth
straight over San Jose State (17-14) after defeating the Spartans
twice during the regular season. The Aggies won 84-65 on Jan. 27 as
Wesley was held to nine points. He scored 16 in an 80-71 home
victory over the Spartans on Dec. 31.
Despite the winning streak, Utah State won’t be taking the
Spartans lightly after they come in having beaten two higher
After surviving a last-second review to top fifth-seeded Hawaii
75-74 on Wednesday, San Jose State knocked off the No. 4 seed by
defeating Idaho 74-68 on Thursday.
The Spartans pulled off the latest upset thanks to some hot
outside shooting. They hit 13 3-pointers – six each from guards
Keith Shamburger and Adrian Oliver, who had 28 points apiece.
“I was real happy with our composure and discipline throughout
the game,” coach George Nessman told the Spartans’ official
website. “Obviously, we made a bunch of three’s. We’re clearly
capable of that.”
Oliver, who led the conference in scoring with 24.5 points per
game, had 29 against Hawaii. He also scored 29 in the most recent
matchup with Utah State.