LOGAN — All season long the Utah State Aggies have talked about the dream of capturing a fourth straight WAC title. With a win in Idaho against the Vandals, the Aggies will clinch at worst a share of the championship. A win would also give the Aggies a chance to win the championship outright on Saturday night in front of a home crowd in Logan.
Getting through Idaho however, will be no cakewalk. Idaho currently sits in fourth place in the crowded middle of the WAC standings. The Vandals are just one game behind second place New Mexico State and one game ahead of sixth place Fresno State, giving them a lot to play for.
"Idaho is playing very well defensively," coach Stew Morrill said. "They are right there with the league leaders defensively, and their overall approach is just real solid. You can't waltz in there and play bad and expect to have a chance to win. You have to play well up there."
Making matters more difficult for Utah State is head coach Don Verlin and point guard Deremy Geiger. Verlin spent 15 years as an assistant under Morrill, including 10 years at Utah State. Geiger spent his freshman year at Utah State learning the offense before academic issues forced him to a junior college. Both know the Utah State system inside and out, making it difficult for the Aggies to take them by surprise.
"I am obviously pleased with what Coach Verlin is doing at Idaho," Morrill said of his long time protégé. "It is always difficult when you have to play each other… I am certainly happy for Deremy Geiger. He left here having to get some things in order, and he has done that. He has done a really good job in junior college and now for Idaho. When we look at him on film he is playing well. He runs their team."
Morrill would not get into what issues forced Geiger to leave Utah State, but added that there were no bad feelings between the two.
"We liked Deremy a lot," Morrill said. "There was never any issue with his character or effort. We enjoyed having him. There are no hard feelings. I don't think he would have ended up with someone from our program (Verlin) if he had felt badly about what happened here."
On the court, Morrill is concerned about the Vandals ability to shoot the deep ball. Idaho leads the conference at 38.4 percent from behind the arc, and blitzed Hawaii in their last game with a 10-for-18 from three-point range.
"When they win games, they make a lot of threes," Morrill said. "That is certainly a challenge for our defense — when you look at their guys that can really shoot the ball, and there are a bunch of them. Jeff Ledbetter obviously leads the way with his ability to get the shot off quick and shoot such a high percentage."
Aggies on the air
No. 21 Utah St. (22-2, 11-0) vs. Idaho (13-10,6-5)
Today, 9 P.M.
TV: ESPN2 Radio: 610
AM, 95.9 FM, 1320 AM