Basketball Notes For The Montana Tech Game



Dec. 8, 2000

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Game #7

Montana Tech at Utah State Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270)lLogan, Utah Dec. 9, 2000l7:05 pm(MST)

Up Next: Utah State will host Montana Tech on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7:05 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Orediggers are 5-5 on the season after defeating the University of Calgary 88-72.

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. Senior forward Jaiger Allen is the team's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 13.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, while junior guard Glen McCloud 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 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 Lewis-Clark State to go along with its one win over Montana Tech.

Ags Give Utes Back-To-Back Losses: With its 58-57 win over No. 22 Utah on Wednesday night in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, Utah State accomplished something that hadn't happened since early in the 1994 season. With the Aggie win, it marked the first time since 1994 that Utah had lost consecutive non-conference games (Utah lost to Southern California on Saturday 65-60). In fact, only one other time since 1994 has Utah lost back-to-back games in a whole season (Utah lost at Wyoming and Colorado State last year). The last two non-conference teams to beat the Utes were Maryland and Michigan in the Maui Classic.

Come From Behind Wins: Utah State has started a new trend over the past couple of weeks, and that trend is to win after trailing at halftime. USU has trailed at the half in each of the last two games (Idaho State and Utah), and came back to win both contests. USU is 2-0 thus far this season when trailing at the half. Ironically, the Aggies won all of two games last year when trailing at the half and compiled a 2-6 mark.

Keep It Under 60: Utah State has been unbeatable as of late when its opponents score less than 60 points in a game. Thus far this year, USU is 2-0 when its opponents score less than 60 points, and the Aggies were 12-0 last season when its opponents didn't hit 60. The last time USU lost a game when its opponent didn't score 60 points was a 55-52 loss at New Mexico State on Feb. 25, 1999. Utah State is 14-0 since that game when allowing fewer than 60 points and 18-1 in two plus years under head coach Stew Morrill.

Second-Half Defense: Utah State turned up its defensive pressure in the second half against Utah and allowed 19 points which was the fewest allowed by an Aggie team in the second half since Portland scored 19 in the championship game of the Gossner Foods Classic on Dec. 18, 1996. The last team to score that few of points in either half was Pacific who scored 18 in the first-half against USU in the first round of the Big West Tournament last year.

Coach Morrill Versus The Competition: Coach Morrill is 2-0 all-time versus Montana Tech. He faced Montana Tech once at Montana and once at Colorado State.

Next Week: Utah State will take the week of for final exams after playing Montana Tech this Saturday, Dec. 9. The Aggies next game will be at Brigham Young on Saturday, Dec. 16. Tip-off for that game has been changed from 7:07 p.m. to 4:07 p.m. (MST).

Versus Ranked Opponents: Utah State is now 3-16 over the last 10 years versus ranked opponents with its 58-57 win over No. 22 Utah, 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 10 times since 1976 when Utah has been ranked, and USU is 4-6 in those games. All-time, Utah State is 8-46 versus ranked opponents.

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 324-96 (.771) at home. Over the past three seasons, the Aggies have compiled an incredible 45-3 (.938) record at home. USU has won 55 of its last 58 games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum dating back to the 1996-97 season.

Morrill Comfortable At Home: Utah State head coach Stew Morrill is very comfortable at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, and his record would confirm that fact. Since becoming USU's head coach prior to the 1998-99 season, Coach Morrill is 30-3 (.909) at home. The only other Aggie coach to have similiar success at the Spectrum was Dutch Belnap who went 31-1 in his first 32 games at home.

Aggies Go When Brown And Daniels Go: It is becoming more and more apparent than the key to Utah State's success is related to Tony Brown and Shawn Daniels having good offensive nights. The Aggies have won its last 12 games when Brown scores in double-figures, and is 24-6 over the past two seasons when Daniels scores 10 or more points. Furthermore, Utah State is 9-0 when Daniels has a double-double and 6-0 when Brown scores 20 or more points in a single game.

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 Utah Game: Behind 18 points from junior guard Tony Brown (Hyrum, Utah) and 15 points from senior forward Shawn Daniels (Bakersfield, Calif.) Utah State recorded its biggest win of the season over No. 22 Utah by a final score of 58-57 in the 213th meeting between the two schools. Utah State opened the game with a 7-0 run, much to the thrill of the 10,270 fans in attendance at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum which was the 20th sellout in the history of the building. After that initial charge by the Aggies, the Utes responded with a 5-0 run of its on and eventually took its first lead of the game at 19-18. Utah extended its lead to eight points at 38-30 with 1:54 left in the half, but senior guard Bernard Rock (New York, N.Y.) hit a three-pointer with :16 seconds left in the half to cut the Utah margin to five going into the locker room. Utah State opened the second half with a 9-3 run to take a one-point lead at 42-41. Both teams fought back and forth over the next seven minutes before the Aggies went on a 10-1 run to take a 58-53 lead with 3:49 remaining. The Utes scored the final four points of the game over those final four minutes, but was unable to score the winning basket at the end of the game with three consecutive shots at the basket. The Aggies held the Utes to just five points over the final 10 minutes of the ball game, and only 19 points in the second half. Utah State shot 43.2 percent from the floor in the game, while Utah shot 38 percent after making 53.8 percent of its shots in the first half. The Utes did outrebound the Aggies 35-30.

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 142 4. Tony Brown 353 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 five wins in its first six games. USU has won 21 of its last 22 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. 10-Game Home Court Winning Streak: Utah State has won its last 10 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 23 of its last 24 games at home.

Fast Start: With its 5-1 start to the 2000-01 season, USU is off to one of its best starts in recent years. The last team to have this good of a start to the season was the 1998-99 team that opened the season with five straight wins before losing its next three. Prior to that, you would have to go back to the 1984-85 season to find a better start to a season than the one this year. That team opened the year by winning seven of its first eight games.

Sellout At The Spectrum: Utah State had its 20th sellout at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum this past Wednesday against Utah. The largest crowd ever to see a game at the Spectrum was on Jan. 20, 1973 when 11,114 fans packed the house to see the Aggies face BYU.



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