Utah State is appearing in the 8/9 game for the second consecutive year and for the third time since joining the Mountain West prior to the 2013-14. The Aggies are 2-0 all-time when playing in the 8/9 game, posting victories over Colorado State in 2013-14, and against Wyoming in 2015-16.
Things Of Note
Senior wing Jalen Moore needs nine more rebounds to tie his father, Jimmy Moore, for No. 16 in Utah State history.
Moore has led the Aggies in scoring and rebounding in each of the past two seasons, averaging 15.2 points and 6.0 rebounds as a junior, and 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds as a sophomore, and currently leads the team with 16.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Moore could become just the third player in Utah State history to lead the team in scoring and rebounding for three years, joining Greg Grant (1982-84, 1985-86) and Marvin Roberts (1968-71).
Freshman guard Sam Merrill leads all freshmen in the Mountain West with 3.1 assists per game and is 19th in the nation with an assist/turnover ratio of 2.87.
Freshman guard Koby McEwen leads all freshmen in the Mountain West in scoring with 14.4 points per game. McEwen is second among freshmen with 3.0 assists per game and 5.1 rebounds per game.
The tandem of McEwen and Merrill each scored 20-plus points against San José State, logging 23 and 22 points, respectively. It was the first time that a pair of USU freshmen have scored 20 or more points in the same game in Utah State history.
Scouting San José State
San José State is 14-15 on the year, 7-11 in the Mountain West and has lost four in a row and five of its last six. Utah State posted an 81-75 victory in San Jose on Feb. 22, beginning the recent four-game slide.
The Spartans are averaging 73.5 points per game and shooting 44.4 percent (754-of1,699) from the floor, 34.8 percent (193-of-555) from behind the 3-point line and 69.8 percent (430-of-616) at the free throw line. Sophomore forward Brandon Clarke leads the Spartans with 17.6 points per game and also leads the team on the glass, averaging 8.6 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Ryan Welage is also averaging double figures, scoring 13.1 points per game.
Defensively, teams are scoring 74.3 points per game against the Spartans and shooting 45.6 percent (743-of-1,629) from the floor, 33.9 percent (181-of-534) from behind the 3-point line and 74.8 percent (488-of-652) at the free throw line. Senior guard Isaac Thornton leads the team in steals, averaging 1.3 per game, and Clarke leads SJSU with 75 blocks on the year, averaging 2.6 per game.
Head coach Dave Wojcik is in his fourth season, compiling an overall mark of 32-89 over that span.
Series History Against San José State
Utah State and San José State have the sixth-longest series in USU history, with the Aggies leading 58-21. USU has won 19 straight against the Spartans and 25 of the last 26. The two teams have met nine times in conference tournaments, with Utah State holding a narrow lead 5-4.
Last Time Against San José State
Merrill scored a career-high 22 points and led the Aggies with six rebounds, five assists and a career-high-tying three steals. McEwen led the Aggies with 23 points and five assists and also had three boards and a steal. Senior wing Jalen Moore had 15 points, six rebounds and two assists. Sophomore forward Norbert Janicek had 14 points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Utah State finished the game shooting 54.9 percent (28-of-51), including 35.3 percent (6-of-17) from behind the arc, while shooting 95 percent (19-of-20) from the free throw line. San José State shot 45.9 percent (28-of-61) from the floor, 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from behind the 3-point line and 70 percent (7-of-10) from the free throw line.
Last Time Against San José State at a Conference Tournament
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Utah State posted a 58-55 victory over San José State in the semifinals of the 2011 Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Aggies were led by double-double effort from Tai Wesley with 14 points and 12 rebounds. He was joined in double figures by Brockeith Pane with 16 points. Nate Bendall also recorded double-digit rebounds, logging 12 during the contest.
Utah State finished the game shooting 37.0 percent (20-of-54) from the floor, 21.4 percent (3-of-14) from behind the 3-point line and 71.4 percent (15-of-21) at the free throw line. San José State shot 37.3 percent (19-of-51) from the floor, 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from behind the 3-point line and 73.3 percent (11-of-15) at the free throw line.
SJSU was led in scoring by Adrian Oliver with 16 points and he was followed by Keith Samburger with 11 points. Wil Carter led the Spartans on the glass with 10 rebounds.
Last Time in an 8/9 Game in the MW Championships
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Junior guard Shane Rector scored a season-high 24 points to lead a quartet of double-digit Aggie scorers in Utah State's 88-70 opening round Mountain West Championship win against Wyoming on March 9 at the Thomas and Mack Center.
As for head coach Tim Duryea, he becomes the first coach in school history to win his first-ever conference tournament game and the first Aggie coach to win his first postseason game since 1962 when Ladell Andersen led USU to a NCAA Tournament opening round win against Arizona State.
For Rector, those 24 points are the most by an Aggie in conference tournament play since the 2010 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game when Jared Quayle scored 25 points against New Mexico State. It is also the most points scored by a USU player in the postseason since Preston Medlin had 26 points against Oakland in the semifinals of the 2012 College Invitational Tournament.
Senior guard Chris Smith added 20 points for Utah State as he was 7-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line, and 2-of-2 at the free throw line. Junior wing Jalen Moore added 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists as he was 7-of-15 from the field, and sophomore guard Julion Pearre came off the bench to score 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Utah State finished the game shooting 48.4 percent (31-of-64) from the field, including 44.0 percent (11-of-25) from behind the 3-point line, and 83.3 percent (15-of-18) at the free throw line. Wyoming shot 37.3 percent (19-of-51) overall, as those 19 made field goals are tied for the fewest by an Aggie opponent this season. Wyoming was also 5-of-28 (.179) shooting from 3-point range, which is a season-low shooting percentage for an Aggie opponent, but made 27-of-34 (.794) free throws, both of which are season-highs by an Aggie opponent.
All-Time in Conference Tournaments
Utah State is 40-30 all-time in conference tournaments, making appearances in the championship game 14 times. The Aggies are 2-0 all-time in first round games, 16-19 in quarterfinal games, 14-5 in semifinal games and 8-6 in championship games.
Tim Duryea Coach's Show
Utah State head coach Tim Duryea will join Al Lewis on most Mondays throughout the men's basketball season from 6:05 to 7 p.m. The next show is scheduled for Monday, March 6, at the Pizza Pie Cafe on 1400 North.
Utah State will play Nevada on Thursday, March 9, with a victory over San José State. The game against the Wolf Pack will tip at 1 p.m. (MT) and can be heard on KVNU with Al Lewis providing play-by-play and Rod Tueller providing color. The game will also be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network (Comcast Ch. 269/753HD, Dish Network Ch. 158, DirecTV Ch. 221).
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