Utah State women’s basketball (1-6) continues its 2017-18 season this week with a pair of in-state road games as it plays at BYU (3-4) on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m., and at Utah Valley (2-6) on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m.
Wednesday’s game at BYU will be televised live on BYUtv, as well as an online stream. Saturday’s game at Utah Valley will be streamed online through Wolverine All-Acces. 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 throughout the season, 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 on 92.3 KBLU, with Jaden Johnson on the call. The games will be streamed on the air and online. Links to every option will be available online prior to every game.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
BYU opens the week with a 3-4 record. The Cougars are on a three-game losing streak, most recently dropping road contests to Northern Colorado (79-74 OT) and Colorado State (56-54). BYU’s three wins have come over Southern Utah, Eastern Washington and Utah Valley.
BYU returns two starters and six total letterwinners from last season, while welcoming eight new players to the roster. A year ago, the Cougars posted a 20-12 record, including a 13-5 ledger in West Coast Conference play, finishing second in the league. Senior guard Cassie Devashrayee leads the BYU offense with 19.3 points per game. Defensively, sophomore forward Shalae Salmon is the top rebounder, averaging 10.4 boards per game. As a team, BYU is averaging 69.4 points per game, while allowing and average of 69.1 points from its opponents. The Cougars are shooting 42.3 percent (175-of-414) from the floor, 33.3 percent (48-of-144) from the 3-point line and 68.8 percent (88-of-128) from the free throw line. Jeff Judkins is in his 17th season as the head coach at BYU, where he has a career record of 354-166.
The Cougars lead the all-time series with the Aggies, 35-3, winning the last 28 contests. Utah State’s last win over BYU came on Dec. 7, 1978, and the Aggies have not beaten the Cougars in Provo since Feb. 9, 1974. The teams played in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum last season, where BYU topped USU, 60-40.
SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES
Utah Valley welcomes the Aggies with a 2-6 record. Both of the Wolverine’s wins have come at home, as the team defeated Dixie State (72-63) and Southern Utah (69-61). UVU will host Air Force on Thursday before hosting Utah State.
Like the Aggies, Utah Valley returns all five starters to the court from last season. A year ago, the Wolverines posted a 9-22 record, going 3-11 in WAC competition. Senior guard Taylor Christensen is the leading scorer for Utah Valley, as she is averaging 15.1 points per game. Sophomore guard Gabrielle Leos is the top rebounder with 4.6 per game. Overall, UVU is scoring an average of 55.2 points per game, while allowing 71.9 points from its opponents. The Wolverines are shooting 33.8 percent (157-of-465) from the field, 30.3 percent (43-of-142) from the 3-point line and 74.6 percent (85-of-114) from the free throw line. Cathy Nixon is in her 23rd season as the head coach at Utah Valley, where she has an overall record of 357-316. Utah State leads the all-time series against Utah Valley, 8-4. The majority of the Wolverines’ success against the Aggies has come in Orem, where the series is tied, 3-3. Last season, the teams met in Logan, with Utah State taking the 56-45 win.
HERE, KITTY KITTY
Wednesday’s game will be the last of four games Utah State will play against a team with a feline mascot. The Aggies have already taken on the Arizona Wildcats, Idaho State Bengals and Montana State Bobcats, with the BYU Cougars coming up this week.
AROUND THE BEEHIVE STATE
Including the team’s preseason scrimmage and exhibition games, the Aggies will play each of the seven other basketball teams in Utah. Utah State played an unofficial scrimmage against Weber State, and has already played Westminster, Dixie State and Southern Utah. After this week of games in Utah County, the Aggies will host Utah on Monday, Dec. 18. All-time, Utah State is 40-98 against in-state opponents, with a 36-97 record against the Division I teams. Since Jerry Finkbeiner became the head coach at USU, the Aggies have gone 8-9 in official competition against other Utah schools.
A FAMILIAR FOE
BYU is Utah State’s second-most-faced opponent in program history with 38 past meetings. Weber State is the most frequently played opponent for the Aggies with 39 contests. Utah State has played five different teams 30 or more times, in Weber State (39), BYU (38), Utah (36), Idaho State (32) and Boise State (32).
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Between the three Beehive State teams competing against each other this week, there are 12 players who are Utah natives. BYU has eight players from Utah on its roster, including a Cache Valley native in MaCayla Hanks Longson (Millville, Utah/Mountain Crest HS). Utah Valley has two players from in-state high schools, while Utah State has three. Redshirt sophomore guard Lindsey Jensen (Smithfield, Utah/Sky View HS), sophomore guard/forward Hailey Bassett (Layton, Utah/Layton HS) and freshman forward Taylor Franson (American Fork, Utah/American Fork HS) represent the Beehive State for the Aggies. BYU’s roster has two players from three different Utah high schools, though no players across other rosters attended the same high school.
BLOCK THEM OUT
Like she has done each year of her career, junior center Deja Mason leads the Aggies in the block column this season. In the seven games this year, Mason has tallied 13 blocks. She now has 103 total blocks in her career, which ranks fifth all-time at Utah State. She needs 31 more blocks to set the career block record. Mason tallied 38 blocks as a freshman and 52 last season. Additionally, Utah State leads the conference teams in blocks, averaging 4.3 per game.
AROUND THE NCAA
Throughout the 2017-18 season, Utah State will play games against teams from eight different athletic conferences. Aside from the Mountain West contests, the most games will be played against Big Sky (Southern Utah, Idaho State, Montana State) and Pac-12 (Arizona, Oregon State, Utah) opponents.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Utah State has played games in just three different timezones through the preseason. The Aggies opened the season at UC Irvine (Pacific time) before playing four-straight games in the Mountain timezone. USU then traveled to Hawaii for a pair of neutral games in Hawaiian Standard Time. The remainder of Utah State’s schedule will be played either in Mountain or Pacific timezones.
STARTING LINEUP SHIFT
Utah State has used three different starting lineups this season. Rachel Brewster, Shannon Dufficy, Eliza West and Olivia West have each started all seven games, but Hailey Bassett, Jessie Geer and Deja Mason have each seen some time among the starting five.
THE DUFFICY DEFENSE
In USU’s game at Southern Utah, sophomore guard/forward Shannon Dufficy led the team with a career-high 19 rebounds. Those 19 boards are the most by a Utah State player in a game since 1983, when Sharon Epps tallied a school-record 22 rebounds in three games. Dufficy is now tied for eighth-place on the single-game rebound list with the 19. Additionally, Dufficy is tied for 15th and 21st with single-game performances of 17 and 16 rebounds, respectively, last season. Dufficy currently leads the Aggies with an average of 9.1 rebounds per game.
Utah State women’s basketball has been picked sixth in the Mountain West women’s basketball preseason poll as voted on by a panel of the league’s 11 head coaches and media representatives. After claiming the tournament title at the end of the 2016-17 season, Boise State was picked to finish first in the league with 221 total points and seven first-place votes. Wyoming was tabbed second, as the Cowgirls earned 216 points and six first-place votes. Reigning regular-season champion Colorado State placed third in the poll with 211 points and six first-place nods. New Mexico (186 points) and UNLV (185 points) rounded out the top five with four and two first-place votes, respectively. Utah State was tabbed sixth with 136 points, followed by Fresno State in seventh with 117 points and San Diego State in eighth with 102 points. San José State (61 points), Nevada (60 points) and Air Force (29 points) concluded the poll in ninth, 10th and 11th places, respectively.
According to NCAA research, Utah State boasts the second-youngest team in the country this season. The Aggie roster is made of 83.3 percent underclassmen with just two juniors representing the upperclassmen. Utah State is just ahead of Mountain West rival San José State which has 80 percent of its roster made of freshmen and sophomores. UNC Greensboro has the youngest team in the country with 87.7 percent of its roster as underclassmen.
After a month on the road, Utah State returns to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum next week for a pair of games. The Aggies will host former WAC foe Denver on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 2 p.m. Utah State will then close non-conference play as it welcomes Utah to Logan on Monday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m.
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