April 9, 2009
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State's men's basketball team is once again the nation's top field goal shooting team as the NCAA released its final Division I statistics Thursday. Overall, it is the second time in as many years and the third time in the last five seasons that Utah State has led the nation in field goal shooting.
Utah State also finished the year ranked 31st in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll with 15 votes. It is the highest a USU team has been ranked at season's end since 1978 when that team finished ranked 17th in the coaches poll.
Utah State shot 49.6 percent from the field this past season to rank first overall, and shot 51.4 percent last year to lead the nation. USU also led the nation in field goal shooting during the 2004-05 season as it shot 52.5 percent.
The last time a Division I team led the nation in field goal shooting in back-to-back seasons was UCLA in 1996 and 1997. Overall, Utah State is just the eighth team in the history of the NCAA to lead the nation in shooting in consecutive seasons joining UCLA, Michigan (1988-89), Arkansas (1977-78), Maryland (1975-76), North Carolina (1972-73), Auburn (1959-60), and George Washington (1954-56), who is the only team to lead the nation in field goal shooting in three straight years.
Utah State's current streak of being the top field goal shooting team in the nation three times in the last five years is also the best five-year stretch in the history of the NCAA.
Overall, Utah State finished the 2008-09 year ranking among the top-18 in the nation in nine different statistical categories. Along with leading the nation in field goal shooting, Utah State also finished fifth in winning percentage (.857), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.44), 10th in fewest turnovers per game (11.2), 14th in rebound margin (+6.7), 15th in scoring margin (+10.4), 16th in three-point shooting (.394), 16th in fewest personal fouls committed per game (15.4), and 18th in assists per game (16.2).
Utah State (30-5, 14-2) was also one of just 11 teams in the nation to win 30 games during the season along with North Carolina (34-4), Memphis (33-4), Connecticut (31-5), Pittsburgh (31-5), Louisville (31-6), Michigan State (31-7), Missouri (31-7), Oklahoma (30-6), Duke (30-7) and Villanova (30-8).
Individually, sophomore guard Tyler Newbold (Payson, Utah) finished the year leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.96-to-1.00. Newbold, who also set a school record in that category, had 111 assists and just 28 turnovers during the year. Senior forward Gary Wilkinson (South Jordan, Utah) also ranked among the nation's elite as he finished the year ranking 24th in field goal shooting at 58.0 percent.
Utah State set a school record with 30 wins during the 2008-09 season and advanced to its 18th NCAA Tournament in school history. The Aggies, who have now participated in 10 straight postseasons (6-NCAA, 4-NIT), won its second straight WAC regular season championship with a 14-2 league record, including its first outright league title. USU also won its first-ever WAC Tournament championship.
Utah State began the 2008-09 season by winning 24 of its first 25 games, which is the best start to a season in school history, won 19 straight games from December to February to tie a school record, and was ranked among the top-25 teams in the nation for four weeks, including three straight during the month of February.
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