LOGAN — While most of the sporting world is still focused on football and the World Series it is officially basketball season in Cache Valley. Utah State got its first action of the season in a 74-42 exhibition victory over UC San Diego.
"I thought it was good to get everyone some minutes. We played hard. We made some mistakes and all that, but I was glad we played hard," said Aggies head coach Stew Morrill.
The Aggies had 12 different players log minutes as Morrill used the game to experiment with lineups and get the seven new players their first minutes in a Utah State uniform. The large number of new faces even forced Morrill to make a substitution script for one of the first times in his career to make sure everyone got minutes.
Brockeith Pane, the sole returning starter for Utah State led the Aggies with 12 points. Forward Brady Jardine finished close behind with 11 moving into the starting role this season. In all 10 of the 12 Aggies who checked in scored, a balance that head coach Stew Morrill will be looking for all season.
"We don't have a Tai Wesley to throw it to in the post," Morrill said about the change in the Aggies offensive attack this year. "I think for us to have a chance to be good we have to have real good balance. We have to have five guys score between 8 and 14."
Utah State forced the Tritons into 21 turnovers and shot 53% from the field, but will still have plenty of things to work on in practice. The Aggies only out-rebounded a much smaller UC San Diego team by two, which Morrill noted will not get it done against fiercer competition. Of most concern was the Aggies performance at the charity stripe as Utah State converted on just 7 of 20 chances. The missed free throws were attributed to the nerves as the Aggies had been shooting around 80 percent in practice according Morrill.
"Probably just first-game jitters," said junior college transfer Mitch Bruneel on the lackluster free throw shooting. "We have a lot of new guys. It will come with time, we just need to work on our free throws and make them in critical moments."
The Aggies have a week to work out some more kinks before facing Adams State next Saturday in the team's final exhibition. The regular season begins on November 11 in the Spectrum against BYU.