Utah State basketball: Aggies' big task? Slow Pullen

Published: Wednesday, March 16 2011 12:13 a.m. MDT

LOGAN — Among the chief concerns for Utah State going into their NCAA Tournament game Thursday against Kansas State is how to slow guard Jacob Pullen.

In the Wildcats' nine losses with Pullen in the lineup, the first-team All-Big 12 guard averaged just 12.8 points a game, down nearly seven points from his 19.5 average for the season.

The Aggies are going to utilize 2011 first-team All-WAC defender Tyler Newbold and 2010 first-team All-WAC defender Pooh Williams to try and contain the speedy 6-footer.

"We are not just going to have one guy on him," Newbold said. "I'm sure myself and Pooh (Williams) will get a chance on him and give him a few different looks. We are excited for that opportunity. You want to be able to play against great players like that and see what you can do against them and see how you stack up."

Williams said that Pullen has a different style from anyone the Aggies have seen this year, but said he was somewhat similar to Weber State's Damian Lillard.

"(Pullen) is just an all-around player," Williams said. "He can shoot off the dribble. He handles the ball really well. He's not a very tall guy, but he has a lot of speed on him. It's an exciting challenge for us."

STRENGTH ON STRENGTH: One of Kansas State's strengths offensively is shooting a high percentage from beyond the arc. The Wildcats finished at 37.5 percent from 3-point range, which was good enough to rank 44th in the nation in that category. Utah State defensively was 10th in the nation at defending 3-point shots, allowing just 30.2 percent shooting. In their last four games, the Aggies were even better at defending the long ball; opponents shot just 15-72 in that time frame for a frigid 20.8 percent.

DELIBERATE PLAY: As usual with Utah State, pace of play will be a key. The Aggies were one of the most methodical teams in the nation, averaging 64 possessions a game, which ranked near the lowest in the country. Kansas State plays much more up-tempo with more than 70 possessions a game, which ranks 60th in the country. The Wildcats get more possessions in part to forcing opponents to turn over the ball on 22 percent of their possessions. The Aggies, in comparison, had a turnover on just 17.7 percent of their possessions. If the Aggies can keep control of the ball, it will go a long way to setting the tempo at their pace and help their bid to score an upset.

PLENTY OF COVERAGE: For the first time, all NCAA Tournament games will be available on television. A partnership of CBS and Turner has games being aired on CBS as well as TNT, TBS, and truTV. The Aggies will be appearing on truTV which is Ch. 44 on Comcast in the area, Ch. 246 on DirecTV, and Ch. 204 on Dish Network. Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner, and Reggie Miller will be calling the game with Sam Ryan reporting from the sidelines.

Aggies on the air

No. 12 Utah State (30-3) vs. No. 5 Kansas State (22-10)

McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.

Thursday, approx. 8 p.m. MDT

TV: TruTV (Ch. 44 on Comcast, Ch. 246 on DirecTV, Ch. 204 on Dish Network) Radio: 1230 AM

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS