Basketball Game Notes For The Week Of Dec. 4, 2000



Dec. 4, 2000

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Game #6 No. 22 Utah at Utah State Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270)lLogan, Utah Dec. 6, 2000l7:07 pm(MST)lSportsWest Televsion (KSL)

This Week: Utah State will play two games at home this week as it hosts No. 22 Utah on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 7:07 p.m., before hosting Montana Tech on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7:05 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Utes are 4-2 on the season, while the Orediggers are 5-5.

A Look At Utah: Utah is 4-2 on the year and coming off a 65-60 loss to Southern California in the John Wooden Classic. Utah also lost a 65-60 contest to Georgia in the Puerto Rico Shootout. Its four wins on the year have come against Idaho State (71-65), American University (94-37), Memphis (61-58), and the Cardinal Stritch (93-47). Two Utes are averaging double-figures on the year in juniors Jeff Johnsen and Kevin Bradley who are both scoring 10.8 points per game. The Utes return just one starter and four letterwinners from last year's team that went 23-9 overall and 10-4 in the Mountain West Conference. Utah advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to eventual national champion Michigan State 73-61. The Utes are being coached by assistant Dick Hunsaker while head coach Rick Majerus undergoes knee rehabilitation. Hunsaker is in his third year as an assistant at Utah and was the head coach at Ball State and Manchester College in Indiana. During his eight years as head coach, Hunsaker was 148-60 overall, including a 97-33 mark at Ball State. He was an assistant for Majerus at Ball State for three seasons before becoming the Cardinals head coach.

A Look At Montana Tech: Montana Tech, a Division II school from Butte, Mont., is 5-5 on the season, winners of three of its last four games after starting the season with a 2-4 record. Last time out, Tech defeated the University of Calgary 88-72. The Orediggers return two starters and seven letterwinners from last year's team that went 6-26 overall and 2-10 in the Frontier Conference. Junior guard Glen McCloud is the team's leading scorer, averaging 13.4 points per game, while senior forward Jaiger Allen is averaging 12.9 points a game. Rick Dessing is in his 16th year as head coach at Montana Tech and has an overall record of 248-215.

Versus Utah: This will be the 213th meeting between the two schools dating back to the 1908-09 season. It is the second oldest rivalry in USU history, as the Aggies have played BYU five more times than it has Utah. Utah won that inaugural game 32-13, and in fact won the first eight meetings until the Aggies claimed a 31-20 victory during the 1912-13 season. All-time, Utah holds a 126-86 advantage over USU. The Aggies are 54-51 at home versus the Utes and did win the last meeting between the two in Logan by a 62-54 final on Nov. 18, 1998. Last year, Utah claimed a 77-42 win in Salt Lake City. Utah has won six of the last seven meetings between the two schools.

Last Time Out Against The Utes: The last time these two teams played was on Dec. 7, 1999, in Salt Lake City, with Utah recording a 35-point victory. The Utes jumped on the Aggies early, building a 20-point halftime lead, connecting on 11 three-pointers in that opening period. The Aggies shot just 31 percent for the game, while Utah shot 53 percent, including 67 percent from three-point range. The Aggies did not have a single player score in double figures in the game, as Tony Brown finished with a team-high nine points. Utah was ranked 25th in the country at the time.

Versus Montana Tech: This will be the second ever meeting between Utah State and Montana Tech, as the Aggies defeated the Orediggers 80-49 in Logan on Dec. 2, 1992. All-time, USU is 4-0 versus teams from the Frontier Conference, as USU is 3-0 all-time versus Lews-Clark State.

Coach Morrill Versus The Competition: Coach Morrill is 6-10 all-time versus Utah, and 2-0 all-time versus Montana Tech. He was 5-9 versus Utah while at Colorado State, and is 1-1 versus the Utes at USU. He faced Montana Tech once at Montana and once at Colorado State.

Versus Ranked Opponents: Utah State is 3-16 over the last 10 years versus ranked opponents, and all three of those wins have come against the University of Utah. The Aggies were 0-3 last season versus ranked opponents losing to Florida (58-60), Utah (42-77), and Connecticut (67-75) in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators were ranked fifth in the country at the time, while Utah was ranked 25th, and UConn was 20th. The Aggies and Utes have met nine times since 1963 when Utah has been ranked, and USU is 3-6 in those games. All-time, Utah State is 7-46 versus ranked opponents.

Versus The Mountain West Conference: Utah State is 275-367 all-time versus current members of the Mountain West Conference and have lost the last three dating back to the 1998-99 season. The last MWC team USU beat was San Diego State 63-60 on Nov. 24, 1998. All-time, USU is 9-2 versus Air Force, 85-131 versus BYU, 49-34 versus Colorado State, 19-4 versus New Mexico, 3-0 versus San Diego State, 3-27 versus UNLV, 86-126 versus Utah, and 22-43 versus Wyoming.

Home Sweet Home: Utah State has had tremendous success at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum since the building was opened for the 1970-71 season. In its first 30 years, USU has had only one losing season at home, with a 3-8 record during the 1981-82 year. All-time, Utah State is 323-96 (.771) at home. Over the past three seasons, the Aggies have compiled an incredible 44-3 (.936) record at home. USU has won 54 of its last 57 games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum dating back to the 1996-97 season.

Aggies Try To Give Utes Back-To-Back Losses: Utah State will not have an easy task when the Utah Utes visit the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Wednesday night. And to make matters worse, the Aggies will be facing at Utah team that is coming off a loss. The Utes have not lost back-to-back non-conference games since the 1994-95 season when Utah lost to Maryland (90-78) and Michigan (73-69) at the Maui Classic. In fact, Utah has lost back-to-back games just one other time since the 1994-95 season, and that happend last year at Colorado State and at Wyoming.

Head Coach Stew Morrill: Stew Morrill (Gonzaga, 1974) is entering his third season at the helm of the Utah State men's basketball program after posting an incredible 43-19 record at USU in his first two years, which is the best record by any coach at Utah State in their first two seasons. During the past two years, Morrill has coached two first-team all-league players in Shawn Daniels and Troy Rolle and has had an 80 percent graduation rate. He has been involved in postseason action four times in his career, including the NCAA Tournment last season. He has twice been named Coach of the Year, winning the award in 1991 at Montana, and this past season at Utah State after guiding the Aggies to a perfect 19-0 league mark in winning the Big West Conference. He is only the third coach in the history of the Big West Conference to go undefeated in the league, joining Lou Henson and Jerry Tarkanian. Prior to coming to Utah State, Morrill had been the head coach at Colorado State University for seven seasons, recording a 121-86 record (1992-98). Prior to his stint at CSU, Morrill spent five seasons as the head coach at the University of Montana (1987-91), where he went 97-52. During his 14 years as a head coach, Morrill's teams have won at least 20 games five times and have won at least 17 games in 11 of his 14 seasons as a head coach. He was the second winningest coach at Colorado State behind only Boyd Grant, and his 15 wins at Utah State in 1998-99 were the most by a first-year head coach since 1980.

Aggies Favored To Win The Big West Again: After rolling through the Big West Conference season last year with a 19-0 mark, Utah State is once again picked to win the league by numerous preseason publications. The Sporting News has Utah State picked to finish first in the league and has the Aggies ranked 34th in the country in its preseason poll. Other preseason publications that have Utah State picked to win the Big West Conference include Preview Sports, Street & Smith Magazine, Lindey's, Athlon, and ESPN The Magazine.

Several Players Tabbed As All-League Performers This Year: Along with Utah State being the overwhelming favorite to win the Big West Conference in 2001, USU also has several players being tabbed all-league in different preseason publications. The Sporting News has Shawn Daniels and Bernard Rock as first-team all-league players and Dimitri Jorssen on the second-team. Daniels is also picked to be the Player of the Year by The Sporting News, as well as being the best rebounder in the leauge. It also has Tony Brown tabbed as the best shooter in the league, and Rock named the best playmaker. Preview Sports has Daniels and Rock on its all-league first-team in the Big West, with Daniels picked as the Player of the Year and top rebounder. Street & Smith has Daniels on its first-team list along with being named the Player of the Year, while Lindey's has Daniels first-team and Rock second-team. Lindey's picked Brown as the league's best shooter, Daniels the best rebounder, and Rock the best playmaker in the league. Athlon has Daniels as a first-team all-league player, and ESPN The Magazine has Daniels named to its first team and is selected as the Player of the Year, while Rock and Tony Brown are named to the second team. It also has the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum listed as the toughest arena in the Big West Conference to play in, and lists USU's front court as the best in the conference.

Aggies Sign Five: Head coach Stew Morrill inked five players during the early signing period in Mike Ahmad, Nate Harris, Spencer Nelson, Desmond Penigar, and Ronnie Ross. Ahmad, a 6-9, 225-pound forward is a sophomore at Irvine Valley (Calif.) Junior College. As a freshman, Ahmad averaged 13.5 points and eight rebounds per game en route to earning all-conference honorable mention honors. Harris, a 6-6, 205-pound forward, is a senior at Sky View High School in Smithfield, Utah, where he was a first-team all-state selection as a junior. He was also named the Region Four Most Valuable Player, and was named one of the top 12 players in the state of Utah last season by Frank Layden. Harris averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds as a junior, leading his team to a 28-0 region record over the past two seasons and three straight region championships. Nelson, a 6-7, 207-pound forward from Pocatello High School in Pocatello, Idaho averaged 4.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a freshman for USU in 1999, where he appeared in all 28 games for the Aggies and averaged 12 minutes per game off the bench. Nelson has spent the last two years on an LDS Mission in Oklahoma. Penigar, a 6-7, 240-pound forward, is a sophomore at Ventura Junior College in California. As a freshman, Penigar was the second leading scorer (23 points per game) and rebounder (12) among California junior college players. The Sporting News magazine listed him as one of the top 10 junior college power forwards in the country. He was also a first-team all-conference and all-state selection. Ross, a 6-1, 185-pound guard from John Wood (Ill.) Junior College, was a first-team all-conference selection his freshman year after averaging 21 points, four rebounds and four assists per game. He was tabbed as the conference freshman of the year and was a first-team all-region selection. The Sporting News listed him as one of the top 10 shooting guards in the nation and he was named a preseason All-American heading into his sophomore season.

Recapping The Idaho State Game: Senior forward Shawn Daniels (Bakersfield, Calif.) scored 17 points and added 13 rebounds to lead Utah State to a come-from-behind 59-55 victory at Idaho State on Wednesday night. The Aggies, who improved to 4-1, used a late 14-6 run in the game's final four minutes to gain the win. Idaho State fell to 0-3 with all three losses coming to schools from the state of Utah, as ISU also lost at Utah and at Southern Utah. Daniels, who was coming off a career-high 28-point game against Colorado-Colorado Springs on Saturday, scored 10 of his game-high 17 points in the second half. Daniels grabbed 11 rebounds in the first half to keep the Aggies close. Senior forward Curtis Bobb (Aurora, Colo.) had one of his best games as an Aggie with nine points and a career-high nine rebounds to go along with a career-high two blocks. Six of Bobb's nine points came in the second half and were key points in USU's late run. Utah State took a 50-49 lead with just over three minutes remaining when Bobb hit Daniels underneath for a layup on a second chance opportunity. Senior guard Bernard Rock (New York, N.Y.) then scored a layup and Daniels scored inside to stretch the lead to 54-49 with 1:30 remaining. USU then held off the Bengals to get the four-point win. The victory was USU's 10th straight on the road dating back to last year. Both teams struggled in the first half as the Bengals took a 26-23 lead into the locker room at halftime. ISU shot just 28.1 percent from the field, while the Aggies made just 27.3 percent of its attempts. In fact, the teams combined for 49 points and 50 rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Daniels grabbed 11 of his 13 rebounds in the first half, while leading USU with seven points. The Aggies trailed by 10 points at 16-6, but went on a 14-4 run to tie the game at 20. USU then gained its first lead of the contest on a traditional three-point play by senior center Dimitri Jorssen (Theux, Belguim) to go ahead 23-21 before ISU scored the half's final five points.

Daniels Among Select Company: Senior forward Shawn Daniels is among some select company as he has been selected to the CHI Mid-Major Preseason All-America Team which consists of 25 of the best college players in the country from Mid-Major university's. The 25 players selected where: Chris Bjorklund (Cal Poly), Brett Blizzard (UNC-Wilmington), Devin Brown (Texas-San Antonio), Casey Calvary (Gonzaga), Ian Chadwick (Wofford), Shawn Daniels (UTAH STATE), Chris Davis (North Texas), Patrick Doctor (American), Scott Emerson (Mercer), George Evans (George Mason), Brian Heinle (Cal State Northridge), Gerrod Henderson (Louisiana Tech), Trevor Huffman (Kent State), Michael Jackson (Missouri-Kansas City), Joe Linderman (Drexel), Jody Lumpkin (College of Charleston), Rashad Phillips (Detroit), Ryan Sears (Creighton), Tamar Slay (Marshall), Craig Snow (Evansville), Isaac Spencer (Murray State), Greg Stempin (Toledo), Desmond Stewart (Niagara), Lonnie Thomas (Louisiana-Lafayette), and John Tice (Central Connecticut State).

Note: The Mid-Major University's are made up of teams from the following conferences: America East, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Continent, Mid-Eastern, Midwestern Collegiate, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Sun Belt, Trans American, and West Coast Conference.

Long Range Bomber: Junior Tony Brown is on pace to become Utah State's all-time three-point shooter before his career is over. Brown is currently fourth all-time at USU in three-pointers made and attempted. The following is a breakdown of where Brown stands as of date on the USU career charts. 3-Pt. FG's Made 3-Pt. FG's Attemtped 1. Reid Newey 237 1. Jay Goodman 580 2. Jay Goodman 209 2. Reid Newey 572 3. Justin Jones 183 3. Justin Jones 408 4. Tony Brown 140 4. Tony Brown 350 5. Troy Rolle 112 5. Troy Rolle 304

On A Roll: Since dropping a 82-73 decision to BYU on Jan. 8, 2000, Utah State has been nearly unbeatable in the regular season. The Aggies went on to win 16 straight games in the regular season last year and has opened this year with four wins in its first five games. USU has won 20 of its last 21 regular season games, with its only loss coming to Austin Peay State in overtime.

Road Warriors: Utah State continued its school record for consecutive road wins with its 59-55 win at Idaho State this past week. USU has now won its last 10 road games dating back to last year. The last team to defeat Utah State on the road was Weber State on Dec. 21, 1999.

Over At The Half: Utah State had made a habit of winning games on a regular basis when leading at half-time over recent years. In fact, USU had won its last 39 games when leading at the half before letting a 10-point half-time advantage slip away against Austin Peay State in the championship game of the Top of the World Classic. USU has however compiled a 45-2 mark when leading at halftime over its last 47 games. Morrill At The Spectrum: Utah State head coach Stew Morrill is 29-3 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum as head coach of the Aggies. USU has won its last nine games in the Spectrum under Morrill.

Nine-Game Home Court Winning Streak: Utah State has won its last nine games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum dating back to Jan. 8, 2000. USU's last loss at home was a 82-73 decision to BYU. USU has won 22 of its last 23 games at home.

"Hump Days" Are Good: Utah State has had a lot of success on Wednesdays over recent years. USU is 1-0 thus far this year on "Hump Day", and went 2-0 last year on games in the middle of the week.

Bobb Just Misses Double-Double: Senior forward Curtis Bobb just missed his first double-double of his career last week at Idaho State as he scored nine points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. Bobb also had a career-high two blocks in the game. He had just one block all of last year.

Season Notes: - Shawn Daniels recorded his eighth double-double of his career at Idaho State and his first of the season. - Shawn Daniels recorded a season-high 13 rebounds at Idaho State, which was his 10th career double-digit rebounding game of his career. - USU's game against Idaho State was the first time this year that the Aggies did not lead at halftime. The last time the Aggies trailed at the break was against Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament 39-29. The last time USU trailed at the half on the road was Dec. 21, 1999 at Weber State (47-25). The Aggies were 2-6 last y ear when trailing at the half. - Utah State's 23 first-half points were its fewest in a first half since scoring 21 at Utah on Dec. 7, 1999. It also marked the first time this year that USU did not score 30 points in the first half. - Prior to the Idaho State game, Utah State had six blocks on the season and recorded six against the Bengals. - Curtiss Bobb recorded a career-high nine rebounds and two blocks against Idaho State. - Utah State had shot 54.7 percent from the field on the season before shooting just 36.1 percent against Idaho State. The Aggies had shot over 50 percent in three straight games prior to the ISU game. - Utah State's 59 points against Idaho State were its fewest in the last 32 games, since losing to Utah 77-42 on Dec. 7, 1999. The 59 points were the fewest in a USU victory since the Aggies defeated Southern California 52-50 in the fourth game of the last year at the Maui Classic. - Idaho State's 55 points were the fewest allowed by USU this year and the fewest since the Aggies defeated Pacific 64-41 at last year's Big West Tournmaent.



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