LOGAN, Utah - Utah State men’s basketball will open its 2017-18 Mountain West slate on Wednesday, Dec. 27, hosting San José State, as announced by the conference office on Tuesday. The opener will mark the third time in the last four years that the Aggies have opened league play against the Spartans.
Utah State is a perfect 2-0 against SJSU in MW openers, posting an 80-71 victory on the road during the 2015-16 campaign, and a 61-33 win inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum during the 2014-15 season.
“Any time the schedule comes out in this league, the first thing you look at is the two teams you only play once,” head men’s basketball coach Tim Duryea said. “This schedule is similar to the one we played a couple of years ago. It has a familiar feel to it.”
The 2017-18 conference slate for the Aggies closely matches the 2014-15 schedule as Utah State will only play San Diego State and Colorado State once during the year. With similar scheduling, USU finished 11-7 in the Mountain West in 2014-15, its best finish in the league since joining prior to the 2013-14 season.
Utah State will face the Aztecs for the first and only time during the regular season on Saturday, Dec. 30 in San Diego, before returning to Logan for a home contest against Fresno State on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The Aggies play their final game during the winter break at UNLV, facing the Runnin’ Rebels in Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 6.
USU then hosts Colorado State on Wednesday, Jan. 10, in the lone meeting between the two schools during the year. The first two-game road swing follows with games at Nevada and at Boise State on Saturday, Jan. 13 and Wednesday, Jan. 17, respectively. The two-game road swing makes way for a two-game homestand, when the Aggies host Wyoming and Air Force on Saturday, Jan. 20 and Wednesday, Jan. 24, respectively.
Utah State will close out the month of January at Fresno State on Saturday, Jan. 27 and then at home against New Mexico on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The Aggies have their first bye week the opening weekend of February, before facing Wyoming on the road on Saturday, Feb. 3 and Boise State at home on Saturday, Feb. 10.
The Aggies will celebrate Valentine’s Day in Albuquerque, facing New Mexico on Wednesday, Feb. 14, just two weeks after facing the Lobos the final weekend of January. A home game against Nevada on Saturday, Feb. 17 will precede the final bye week for the Aggies.
Utah State closes out its conference schedule with a pair of road games at Air Force and San José State on Saturday, Feb. 24 and Wednesday, Feb. 28, before hosting UNLV inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for Senior Night on Saturday, March 3.
“I’m pleased that we start and finish at home and that we only have two home games over Christmas Break, as opposed to three, when our students aren’t here,” Duryea said. “You always want to finish at home, if you can, before going to the Mountain West Tournament, and we do that with the UNLV game. All-in-all, I’m pleased.”
All dates are subject to change with television games yet to be determined. Mountain West national television partners CBS Sports Network and ESPN will initiate a selection procedure which will include the shifting of Wednesday games to Tuesday and Saturday games to Sunday. The national television selections should be completed by the middle of August. Regional partner ROOT SPORTS and the Mountain West Network on Campus Insiders will begin their picks after the national television lineup has been announced.
Utah State will be entering its fifth year in the Mountain West, compiling an overall mark of 32-40 over that span. The record includes a 2-2 mark in league openers and a 21-15 mark inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Utah State is set to return seven letterwinners, including four returning starters from last season. In the mix is 2016-17 Mountain West Freshman of the Year Koby McEwen, who finished second on the team with 14.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. The total was the most since Jaycee Carroll averaged 14.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman during the 2004-05 season.
Joining McEwen in arguably the best one-two punch in the backcourt in the MW is Sam Merrill, who wrapped up his freshman year third on the team in scoring with 9.4 points per game and led the Aggies with 98 assists, finishing seventh in the nation with an assist to turnover ratio of 3.27.
Utah State returns the entirety of its frontcourt in juniors Norbert Janicek, Alex Dargenton and Quinn Taylor, who appeared in every game for the Aggies last season. Dargenton led USU with 34 blocks last season and finished third on the team with 4.7 rebounds per contest.
The squad will also benefit in the return of three redshirts in freshmen forwards Klay Stall and Daron Henson, and freshman guard Abel Porter. That group will be joined by four newcomers in junior college transfers Dwayne Brown and DeAngelo Isby, who will enter as juniors and have two years to play, and freshmen Brock Miller and Crew Ainge, both returning from LDS Church missions.
Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumen’sbasketball) and on Twitter (@usubasketball). 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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