PROVO — Most every team that visits the Spectrum in Logan leaves with a "rubbed-in" feeling after the Aggies' student section sends them off with its trademark "winning team, losing team" chant.
The BYU Cougars, who traveled to Logan last year with a 5-0 mark before faltering 71-61, haven't forgotten the feeling they tasted that December night — compliments of the Aggies and their boisterous, faithful fans. It was BYU's only loss in its first 21 games last season.
The Cougars are hoping for a little payback in tonight's long-awaited rematch, arguably BYU's highest-stakes home game until January when San Diego State comes to town. Though not as confined as the Spectrum, the much-larger Marriott Center can certainly get as loud as any arena in the country.
"We're looking forward to a great crowd again and a great atmosphere, and hopefully our student section will be able to muster up some chants like that," BYU guard Jimmer Fredette said.
The Cougars, of course, know a fast start and a different outcome would certainly fire things up in Provo.
"Fortunately we have them here on our home floor, so what we have to do is take them out of what they do good, rush them a little bit, and hopefully get them a little more up-tempo and into the style that we like to play," BYU's Jackson Emery said.
In last year's game, the Aggies controlled the tempo, hit some big shots on key possessions, and shut down BYU's high-scoring attack. The Cougars shot a dismal 31 percent in the second half and had two long scoring droughts.
"We have to score consistently throughout the game because (Utah State) is a disciplined team," Fredette said. "They're not just going to let you score the basketball whenever you want. So it's going to be important to make shots and make plays."
The rivalry between the two teams has heated up in recent years because of the quality of each program. This year, like last, the state's top-team bragging rights are again on the line. Also, BYU is once again in the Top 25 (No. 23) while Utah State is knocking on the door. Both teams have something to prove.
"Utah State is an NCAA (Tournament) team and they've been in the tournament the past couple of years, so it should be really exciting," BYU coach Dave Rose said.
Adding to the rivalry is the number of returning players who played in last year's game. But it might be the new guys — Brockeith Pane and Morgan Grim for Utah State, Kyle Collinsworth and Chris Collinsworth for BYU — who make the difference.
"When you play a team like (Utah State), you have to be really patient. You have to still play on attack and play with an aggressive mindset, but knowing you're going to get a lot of resistance," Rose said.
KEEPING THE SERIES ALIVE: Rose said he and Utah State coach Stew Morrill have been working to schedule future games, but haven't been able to find agreeable dates to this point. Currently, there is no deal in place for the Cougars and Aggies to play in 2011. Tonight's game will be the 227th meeting between the two teams, with the Cougars owning a 135-91 advantage.43 comments on this story
SOME SI LOVING: The latest edition of Sports Illustrated, which hit newsstands today, features Fredette as a cartoon "hoops hero" on the cover. It ranks the Cougars No. 17 in the country and names the Fredette/Emery combo as one of the nation's top backcourts. Fredette was also named recently as a first-team preseason All-American by SI — his seventh such preseason honor.
REDSHIRT DECISION: Rose still has not announced whether he'll redshirt freshman guard Anson Winder, but says he'll make a decision sometime this week. Winder is the only Cougar who did not play in the season-opener against Fresno State. Therefore, he's the only redshirt candidate remaining on the roster.
BYU (1-0) vs. Utah State (1-0)
Today, 7 p.m.
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