Aggies Ranked 22nd In ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll And 25th In Associated Press Poll
Feb. 2, 2009
LOGAN, Utah - Two days after extending the nation's longest winning streak to 16 games and improving its overall record to 21-1, Utah State's men's basketball team entered the national rankings as the Aggies are now 22nd in the nation in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll released Monday. USU is also ranked 25th in the latest Associated Press poll.
Utah State is ranked in the top 25 for just the second time in the last 31 years as the last time a USU team was ranked was during the 2003-04 season when it climbed as high as 19th in the AP poll and 21st in the coaches' poll. Overall, USU was ranked for six straight weeks during the 2003-04 season. Prior to that, USU's last national ranking was during the 1977-78 season when it finished the year ranked 17th in the United Press International poll.
"We haven't talked about being ranked at all, but now that it's happened you certainly realize how positive it is," said USU head coach Stew Morrill. "It's positive for our program, positive for the university, and positive for our fans. Once in awhile you need to stop and say this is a pretty good deal, and this is a pretty good deal."
"Being ranked is a special thing and it feels good to get that national recognition that I think we deserve," said sophomore forward Tai Wesley. "Coach (Morrill) does a good job of keeping us focused and we're battling for that WAC Championship, that's what we want. Being ranked is fun and nice, but it doesn't really mean anything."
"As a college basketball player I think you would be lying if you said that being in the top 25 isn't something you work for," senior forward Gary Wilkinson added. "It's nice to be recognized nationally, I think it's great for the program and it brings some attention to what has been taking place here over the last decade."
Along with owning the nation's longest active winning streak, Utah State's current 16-game winning streak is tied with Clemson, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest for the longest winning streak in the country this season. It is also the third-longest winning streak in school history behind the 1999-2000 team that won 19 straight and the 2003-04 team that won 17 straight.
Utah State is also tied with Oklahoma (21-1) for the most wins and best record in the nation. USU is one of just four teams in Division I basketball with one loss along with Butler, Connecticut and OU.
Utah State, who extended its current school record by notching its 10th straight 20-win season last week, is one of just three teams across the nation to win at least 23 games in each of the last nine years along with Gonzaga and Kansas. During the last 10 seasons, USU has averaged 24.3 wins and its 76.7 winning percentage since 2000 is tied with Florida for the fourth-best in the nation.
Utah State also continues to lead the nation in field goal shooting at 50.7 percent and has shot over 50 percent from the field 14 times this year. USU finished the 2007-08 season as just the fourth team in NCAA history to lead the nation in both field goal (.514) and free throw (.792) shooting.
Utah State is 21-1 on the season and 9-0 in the Western Athletic Conference following a 72-61 home win against Nevada and an 83-77 overtime win at Fresno State last weekend.
Wilkinson leads the team in both scoring and rebounding as he is averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 boards per game, while shooting 60.3 percent from the field and 83.1 percent from the free throw line. He currently ranks third in the WAC in scoring and field goal shooting, and fifth in free throw shooting and rebounding.
Utah State returns to action this Thursday, Feb. 5 when it hosts New Mexico State (11-11, 5-4) at 7 p.m. USU's game against the Aggies will televised on ESPN360.com and be part of ESPN's Full Court Package.
Utah State has won 29 straight home games, which is the second-longest home winning streak in the nation behind Kansas who has won 36 straight. USU has also won 13 straight conference games and its 9-0 start to WAC play this year is the best league start in a decade.
UTAH STATE IN THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL POLLS
Final Polls Associated Press 1960 - 8th 1962 - 18th 1970 - 16th