LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball will host Northern Iowa on Wednesday, Nov. 28, as part of the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Conference Challenge. The game was announced by the Mountain West on Thursday morning.
UNI finished the 2017-18 season with a 16-16 overall mark, including a 7-11 ledger in league play. The Panthers return 12 student-athletes with playing experience, including senior guard Wyatt Lohous, who finished third on the team in scoring a season ago with 9.3 points per game. Sophomore forward Tywhon Pickford was named to the Missouri Valley all-Freshman and all-Newcomer teams after leading the Panthers with 7.8 rebounds per game, including team bests of 188 offensive and 248 defensive rebounds during the year.
Head coach Ben Jacobson will be entering his 13th season leading the UNI program, compiling 250 career victories, the most in school history.
“It is an exciting time to have our first official game on the calendar,” head men’s basketball coach Craig Smith said. “Things are coming together and I can’t wait to get our season underway. The Missouri Valley Conference is a great league for basketball and Coach Jacobsen has been very successful for many years at UNI. It will be an exciting matchup for our players and for our fans.”
The game will mark the first meeting between the two schools in program history. Utah State is 1-2 all-time in the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge, posting a 69-68 victory at Missouri State during the 2015-16 season, followed by a 62-61 loss at home against Indiana State during the 2016-17 season and a 72-65 loss at Valparaiso last year.
USU is among the second batch of games during the MW/MVC Challenge, as Nevada and Boise State will travel to Loyola Chicago and Drake, respectively, on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Colorado State will round out the first day of competition when the Rams host Southern Illinois, also on Nov. 27. Four other games will be played on Wednesday, Nov. 28, as Valparaiso will travel to UNLV, Indiana State to San José State, and Missouri State to Air Force. Wyoming will travel to Evansville on Nov. 28, rounding out competition for that day. The final games of the Challenge are set for Saturday, Dec. 1, as New Mexico will travel to Bradley, and San Diego State will travel to Illinois State.
Utah State will be entering the first year of Smith’s tenure in 2018-19. The team will be led by junior guard Sam Merrill, who paced the Aggies last season with 16.3 points per game and team bests of 107 assists and 35 steals. Merrill finished second in the Mountain West after averaging 35.4 minutes per game and garnered all-Mountain West third team honors at the end of the season.
Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumen’sbasketball) and on Twitter (@Aggiehoops). Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).
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