Fresno St.-Utah St. Preview

BY foxsports • February 11, 2011

A season-worst shooting performance kept Utah State from clinching a share of its fourth consecutive Western Athletic Conference title.

Beating Fresno State at home helped the 21st-ranked Aggies claim last season's crown, and they're hoping for a repeat as the Bulldogs visit again Saturday night.

Utah State (22-3, 11-1) had its 17-game winning streak and its WAC record 25-game league winning streak snapped Wednesday night when it shot 33.8 percent in a 64-56 loss at Idaho.

"I gave congratulations to my boys for 25 conference wins and 17 in a row," coach Stew Morrill said. "I knew we were going to lose some time."

Even with the loss, Morrill's team still holds a 3 1/2-game lead over New Mexico State in the WAC and is four ahead of Nevada. The Aggies would clinch their third straight outright conference title with a win and losses by both schools Saturday.

Utah State should have a good chance to complete part of that scenario - it's won 30 straight conference home games and 28 in a row for the third-longest current streak in Division I. The last conference team to beat the Aggies at home was Fresno State on March 3, 2007, but the Bulldogs (11-13, 5-7) have dropped eight in a row in the series.

They've averaged 40.3 points on 25.9 percent shooting in the last three meetings, including a 52-39 home loss Jan. 15. Fresno State shot a season-low 27.3 percent in that defeat and 22.2 percent in last season's 76-39 loss at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Utah State put away the Bulldogs early with a game-opening 22-0 run, and Tai Wesley finished with 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting.

Wesley, averaging a team-best 14.2 points this season, and Nate Bendall were the only two players in double figures in the January win with 12 apiece. Bendall also pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds in that victory.

The Bulldogs enter this game having dropped five straight on the road and are 2-9 there. They've lost three in a row in Logan.

After winning three consecutive home games, Fresno State fell 75-61 at Boise State on Thursday night. Leading scorer Kevin Olekaibe (12.3 ppg) had six points on 3-of-10 shooting in his return from a wrist injury that kept him out of Monday night's 79-49 rout of Cal State Bakersfield.

The freshman guard averaged 20.6 points in his previous five games, but he also struggled against Utah State, scoring eight points and missing 6 of 7 attempts from 3-point range. Sophomore center Greg Smith was the only player with at least 10 points in that game and has scored in double figures in a career-best 10 straight contests.

Utah State leads the series 29-19 and has won 19 of 24 matchups at home.


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