Weber State, Utah State basketball: Damian Lillard, Wildcats look to snap streak vs. Aggies

Published: Monday, Nov. 14 2011 9:26 p.m. MST

OGDEN — Their early season creampuffs are out of the way. Now the Wildcats can get down to the main course.

A highly regarded Weber State University men's basketball team, which walloped a pair of patsies last week in preparation for the 2011-12 campaign, jumps into the meat and potatoes of its pre-conference schedule tonight when the Wildcats take on in-state rival Utah State.

"We've got a really good preseason schedule," said WSU head coach Randy Rahe, a former longtime assistant coach for USU head coach Stew Morrill. We play Utah State, Utah and Southern Utah here, and at BYU. Those are obviously really good games for our team and our program. We love the in-state games."

Weber State whipped an outclassed Northern New Mexico team, 109-50, in its season opener last Friday. The Wildcats set school records for biggest margin of victory (59 points) and most 3-pointers (17) in that rout, which was WSU's highest-scoring output in nearly a decade. That came on the heels of a 101-55 exhibition win over Colorado-Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, the Aggies turned back BYU, 69-62, in their own regular-season opener last Saturday in Logan. Utah State has won 10 of its last 11 games against the Wildcats, including four straight.

But this year's Weber State squad appears capable of stopping that losing streak against USU. Junior guard Damian Lillard, who missed most of last season after breaking a bone in his foot last December, returns to help lead the way for the Wildcats this season. Lillard, the 2010 Big Sky Conference most valuable player, is eager to make up for lost time.

"I think the biggest thing I got from it was to not take this for granted," Lillard said of the injury. "I missed just being out there and actually being part of the team, physically being on the floor with my teammates and everything and just having fun.

"There's a lot of people that don't get that added opportunity that we've got. These are going to be some of my best friends for life. … I learned that when I am out there right now not to take it for granted and to cherish every moment with my teammates."

Expectations are high for Lillard and his Wildcat teammates this season. And he has his sights set on fulfilling them.

"The biggest thing right now is this is probably the most talented team we've had since I've been here," Lillard said. "I want to win the league and win the Big Sky tournament championship.

"I think the individual awards will come with our team success. Whatever comes with it, I'm fine with because I haven't been to an NCAA Tournament yet, and I have to play well in order for us to do that. The individual stuff comes from winning, so I just want to win. We'll win if I do my job and play well. The individual awards will come if I play well and we're winning games."

Ags, Cats on the air

Utah State (1-0) at Weber State (1-0)

Tonight, 7 p.m.

Dee Events Center, Ogden

TV: None

Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM

Email: rhollis@desnews.com

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