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Utah State basketball: Aggies looking to get on track starting with Hawaii

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 3:06 p.m. MST

LOGAN — It certainly was not the road trip the Aggies had hoped for. Utah State (10-10, 2-3) spent the last two weeks away from the Spectrum and finished with a 1-3 record, dropping the final two games to Seattle and Idaho.

The Aggies will try to put the ugly road trip in the rearview mirror in the friendly confines of the Spectrum against Hawaii (11-8, 3-2) tonight.

"Regardless of disappointments or what happened the previous week, you've got to move forward to the next week," said Utah State coach Stew Morrill.

The Aggies have been uncharacteristically mediocre this year. The last time Utah State had a .500 record this late into the season was during the 1995-1996 campaign, when they also started out 10-10 after 20 games. Rather than looking to go undefeated in league play like previous years, the goal for this year's team is to try and improve every game and forgot about the middling start of the season.

"When you're 10-10, 2-3 in league, you have to say at this point you have been an average basketball team. What we've got to try and do is become better than average," Morrill said. "We have nine league games left, 11 games overall left, and those are the ones that we have a chance to do something about. The games that are over are over. Certainly there have been disappointments along the way and some good wins, but certainly some disappointments as well."

Playing at home should give the Aggies a much-needed boost. Utah State has logged eight of their 10 wins in the Spectrum. While being at home should help matters, the opponent Thursday will not. Hawaii has already taken conference-leading Nevada to the wire in Reno and beat New Mexico State in its last game.

The Warriors have talent and size across the board, and it starts with guard Zane Johnson. The transfer from the University of Arizona has thrived since moving to the Islands and leads the Warriors in scoring at nearly 16 points a game. At center, 6-foot-10 Vander Joaquim is one of the WAC's best big men, averaging just less than 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Then there is Jeremiah Ostrowski, a lightning quick slot-receiver for the Hawaii football team during the fall and point guard in the winter. Ostrowski has started to work himself into consistent minutes for the basketball team over the last month and averages over six assists a game.

"They have three guys that are averaging 18 points a game in league," Morrill said. "They look awfully talented, awfully good on film and what they do is come in and play a variety of defenses to try and keep you off balance. They'll play some man, not a lot, maybe they'll play more against us. They've played a lot of triangle-and-two, box-and-one and two-three zone. We're going to get a mix of things."

Hawaii is the first of a two-game homestand for the Aggies. Utah State faces San Jose State Saturday night to finish the weekend.

Aggies on the air

Hawaii (11-8, 3-2)

vs. Utah State (10-10, 2-3)

Thursday, 7 p.m. (MT)

TV: Altitude Radio: 610 AM, 97.5 FM

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