Utah St.-Idaho Preview

BY foxsports • February 8, 2011

Thanks to its continued dominance in the Western Athletic Conference, Utah State can win its share of a fourth consecutive league title Wednesday night.

Given their recent success against Idaho, the No. 21 Aggies seem to have a good chance at accomplishing that feat when they travel to face the Vandals.

With a 77-49 rout of visiting Boise State on Saturday night, Utah State (22-2, 11-0) recorded its 17th straight win and extended a record with its 25th in a row in WAC play. Leading scorer Tai Wesley had 22 points during the Aggies' season-best 64.3 percent shooting performance.

"I usually like to get in the paint to get started," said Wesley, who was 8 of 11 from the field. "But tonight I got squared up and made sure everything was right and that first one went for me."

The Aggies' three consecutive championships are a school record and have followed Nevada's record-tying five straight titles. They lead New Mexico State by four games and the Wolf Pack by 4 1/2.

"Our players are well aware of the stakes and what we are trying to get done," coach Stew Morrill said. "I don't need to bring that up. I just try to focus on the team that we are going to play and being ready to play basketball.

"I always talk about the dog days of February, and how it is that time of year, and that a lot of teams fade. We are going to try not to be one of those teams."

A matchup with Idaho (13-10, 6-5) would seem to help Utah State keep rolling as it's won 11 in a row in the series and five straight in Moscow.

The Vandals endured their second-worst shooting performance last season (33.3 percent) in a 60-48 loss at the Cowan Spectrum. In the rematch at Utah State, the Aggies shot 57.1 percent in an 80-62 victory, and Brian Green led five players in double figures with 16 points off the bench.

Idaho heads into this matchup having snapped a season-high, four-game slide with Saturday night's 75-61 home victory over Hawaii.

The Vandals, the WAC's best 3-point shooting team at 38.4 percent, made 10 of 18 attempts from beyond the arc. Leading scorer Jeff Ledbetter hit four of those shots en route to 15 points.

The senior guard, averaging 11.4 points, has made a conference-best 66 3-pointers and is second in shooting 46.2 percent from that range. Green has made 46.7 percent of his attempts.

"They are leading our league in 3-point shooting and that seems to be a big factor when they win games," Morrill said. "When they win games they make a lot of 3s. That is certainly a challenge for our defense."

Idaho, led by former Aggies assistant Don Verlin, will try to end Utah State's third-longest win streak in school history and the third-longest active run in Division I. The Aggies won 19 in a row in 1999-00 and matched that mark in 2008-09, when they tied the best start in school history at 25-2.


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