THIS WEEK'S TIP-OFF
Utah State women's basketball (8-7, 1-3 MW) returns to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum this week for a pair of Mountain West games. The Aggies host Wyoming (11-3, 3-0 MW) on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. The week will then continue as USU welcomes San Diego State (7-7, 2-1 MW) to Logan on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 2 p.m.
All regular-season home and Mountain West games will continue to be broadcast as a USU Athletics Production on the Mountain West Network. Live stats and play-by-play information will be available through GameTracker, while updates will also be provided through the team's social media outlets. Utah State women's basketball games are also broadcast on the radio through KVNU. Games will be played on 107.7 FM in Cache Valley with Craig Hislop on the call. Links to each option will be available online prior to every game.
SCOUTING THE COWGIRLS
One of just two teams left with perfect records in Mountain West play, Wyoming comes to Logan with an 11-3 overall record, opening league action at 3-0. Last week, the Cowgirls defeated Fresno State, 70-48, at home, before having their first bye of the conference season.
Wyoming returns four starters and 11 total letterwinners from a 2015-16 squad that finished tied for eighth in the Mountain West, posting a 13-16, 6-12 MW record. The Cowgirls' season ended in a first-round loss to San Diego State in the conference tournament. Junior guard, and defending Mountain West Player of the Week, Liv Roberts leads the Wyoming team, averaging 15.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. As a team, Wyoming is shooting 43.0 percent (328-of-762) from the field, 36.9 percent (108-of-293) from the 3-point line and 77.8 percent (182-of-234) from the free throw line, leading the Mountain West in all three categories. The Cowgirls are averaging 67.6 points per game, while allowing an average of 53.6 points from the opposing teams. Joe Legerski is in his 14th season as the head coach at Wyoming, where he has an overall record of 256-159.
The all-time series between Utah State and Wyoming dates back to the 1975 season, when the teams played in the Intermountain Athletic Conference. Wyoming leads the series, 15-8, including a 7-5 advantage in Logan. The Aggies and Cowgirls met just once last season, where USU defeated Wyoming, 84-75, in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
SCOUTING THE AZTECS
Off to a strong start in conference play, San Diego State makes the trip to Logan with a 7-7 overall record while going 2-1 in Mountain West action. Last week, the Aztecs defeated Nevada (83-78) and Boise State (84-77) at home. SDSU will play at San José State on Wednesday before traveling to Utah State.
San Diego State returns three starters among nine total letterwinners from last year's roster. The 2015-16 Aztecs finished the year at 12-19, tying for eighth-place int he Mountain West with a 6-12 league record. SDSU defeated Wyoming in the opening round of the MW Championship before falling to eventual-championship Colorado State. Junior guard McKynzie Fort leads the Aztecs in scoring, averaging 16.0 points per game. Defensively, junior guard Kahlia Lark averages a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game. As a team, San Diego State is shooting 41.1 percent (321-of-781) from the field, 32.3 percent (91-of-282) from the 3-point line and 73.1 percent (174-of-238) from the free throw line. The Aztecs are averaging 64.8 points per game, while allowing an average of 71.8 points from their opponents. Stacie Terry is in her fourth year as the head coach at San Diego State, where she has an overall record of 44-62.
Utah State and San Diego State have a fairly limited history with just eight all-time meetings. The Aztecs lead the all-time series, 5-3, but the series is tied, 2-2, in games played in Logan. Utah State swept San Diego State last season, posting a 55-36 win in San Diego and a 72-59 victory in Logan.
A SINGLE SUSPENSION
Senior forward Antoina Robinson will not be eligible to play in Wednesday's game against Wyoming. Per NCAA regulations (10-5.11), Robinson will serve a one-game suspension after being involved in a fight in Saturday's game at UNLV.
START `EM YOUNG
With four freshmen and one sophomore in the current starting five, Utah State currently has the youngest starting lineup in the country. USU is one of three Division I teams that has three or more freshmen in its starting corps right now, joining Maine and UAB. Along with the freshmen, UAB starts one sophomore and a junior, while Maine has a sophomore and a senior in its starting five. This is the second season in a row that the Utah State has utilized its youth, starting two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior for the majority of its games in the 2015-16 season.
WE'RE HALFWAY THERE
At the conclusion of Saturday's game at UNLV, the Utah State women hit the mid-point of the 2016-17 season. With an 8-7 record, the Aggies have matched their best opening-half of a season in Jerry Finkbeiner's time at the helm of the program, as the team started 8-7 during the 2013-14 season. It is the best start since the 2011-12 season, when the team went 10-5 in its first 15 games.
BETTER THAN THE REST
Utah State is out-performing its opponents in every major category so far this season. The Aggies have out-scored their opponents, 921-878, while recording a better shooting percentage in all three areas. Additionally, Utah State has out-rebounded the other teams, 591-577, while tallying more assists (211-178), blocks (92-43) and steals (136-121) and committing fewer turnovers (250-269).
SPLITTING THE STATS
Throughout the season, the Aggie starters and bench players have stayed statistically consistent. When looking at points, rebounds and minutes played, the starting lineup is has recorded 65 percent of statistics, while the bench has 35 percent. When in the starting lineup, USU players have scored 590 points and recorded 362 rebounds while playing 1,973 total minutes. The bench players have 331 total points to go with 229 rebounds in 1,052 minutes on the court.
HOT BEHIND THE ARC
In its last two games, Utah State women's basketball has seen great success from the 3-point line. Between the games at New Mexico and UNLV, the Aggies shot 42.1 percent (16-of-38) from behind the arc. The Aggies hit a season-high nine 3-point shots against the Lobos. Freshman guard Olivia West led the team against New Mexico, as she went 5-for-8 from long-range, the most by a USU player in a single game this season. On the week, West shot 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range. Against UNLV, sophomore guard Rachel Brewster and freshman guard Jessie Geer combined to go 4-for-9 from behind the arc.
A FEW EXTRA MINUTES
Saturday's game at UNLV was the first overtime game of the season for the Aggies. Last season, Utah State was 0-1 in overtime games, as it fell to Boise State, 84-78. The Aggies are 3-5 in games requiring extra time in the Jerry Finkbeiner era and 10-12 all-time. In the 2008-09 season, Utah State had six games go to overtime, the most in program history.
After several performances nearing double-double status, Utah State has had three double-doubles in its last six games. Sophomore center Deja Mason recorded the first double-double of any Aggie player this season against BYU, recording 11 points and 11 rebounds. That was the second double-double of Mason's career. Freshman forward Shannon Dufficy recorded back-to-back double-doubles in the games at Arizona and Boise State. Against the Wildcats, she led the team with a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds. She followed with a repeat performance in the next game, recording 13 points and 12 boards. Sophomore guard Rachel Brewster had her first-career double-double at UNLV, leading the team with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Last season, five Utah State players combined for seven double-double performances.
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
Utah State freshman forward Shannon Dufficy is having a standout freshman season. Averaging 9.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, she is leading all freshmen in the Mountain West. She currently ranks 20th in scoring and third in rebounding.
BLOCKING OUT THE COMPETITION
While leading the Mountain West in blocks, the Aggies have had several strong single-game performances. In the loss to BYU, the USU team tied the program single-game blocks record, combining for 14. That matches the record set by the team in 2011 in a game against Boise State. Among those 14 blocks against the Cougars, Mason led the team with five, tying her season-high, while Robinson tied her career-best with four. Those 14 blocks are the most in a game by a Mountain West team this season. The Aggies also had 13 blocks against UC Irvine.
WEST SIDE STORY
After struggling to score over the final four non-conference games, freshman guard Olivia West got back on track in the first weekend of Mountain West action. In the first league home game against Air Force, West had a perfect shooting game, as she went 3-for-3 from the field, including 2-of-2 from the 3-point line, and was 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
THE PERFECT RANGE
This season, Utah State is 7-1 when scoring 60 points or more. The Aggies are 5-1 when scoring 60-69 points and 2-0 when scoring 70-79 points in a game. Conversely, Utah State is 1-5 when allowing its opponents to score in the same range. The Aggies are 6-0 on the year when holding their opponent to fewer than 60 points.
The Aggies have their first bye of the Mountain West season next week, without a game on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Utah State will return to action at Colorado State on Saturday, Jan. 21, in a 7 p.m. game.
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