LOGAN — Utah State coach Stew Morrill is not necessarily known for his fire and brimstone speeches, but he gave the Aggies one at halftime of their 80-71 win over the San Jose State Spartans on Friday night.
"We were atrocious in the first half," Morrill said. "We played with no energy, no heart. Thank God we came out in the second half and guarded them a little bit."
At halftime the Aggies held onto a slim 39-38 lead but the play on the court was sloppy at best. Utah State had eight turnovers in the first half to go along with 15 team fouls. It could have been even worse, had it not been for the offense of junior guard Brockeith Pane who had 15 points at half on his way to a game high 21.
"Coach was on us at half," Tai Wesley said. "He came out fiery and really chewed us out. He really got on us seniors, saying we weren't playing with enough emotion. We wanted to come out and play with emotion and play better defense."
Utah State's defense was much better in the second half, holding the Spartans to just 38 percent shooting. More importantly the Aggies did not commit a foul for the first eight minutes of the second half, which allowed the team to get in a rhythm on offense.
"First half was very difficult to get into a flow," Wesley said. "… It's hard to move around out there, with those guys trying to knock the crap out of you."
The second half was a different story.
"Coach really lit a fire under our butts," Wesley said. "He was yelling and kicking things and we had to respond. Especially the seniors, it's our last year and it's flying by… We are fortunate to be 2-0."
Morrill was still upset after the game, but was happy that his team rebounded to win.
"It would be a crying shame if I acted like a complete idiot in here and they didn't respond," Morrill said. "I shouldn't have to do that."
The ugly performance by the Aggies reaffirms what Morrill has been trying to say all season, that the Aggies are not yet the dominant team that fans want them to be.
"Someone is going to believe me when I say we are not a good team," Morrill said. "We are a very average WAC team right now. We better get better or else we will finish in the middle of the WAC or lower."
The Aggies do not play again until Jan. 8 and Morrill has promised some difficult practices to whip the team back into shape.
"We need hard practices," Pane said. "When you practice hard the games are easier."