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Aggies looking to keep their title hopes alive

Published: Friday, Jan. 27 2012 8:10 p.m. MST

LOGAN — The Utah State Aggies got a win they sorely needed on Thursday night, and now they will look to start a winning streak on Saturday as they host San Jose State in the Smith Spectrum.

Facing the Spartans (7-14, 0-6) will mark the halfway point of Western Athletic Conference play and the Aggies (11-10, 3-3) will need to find a way to put together a winning streak if they hope to catch Nevada (6-0) and claim at least a share of their fifth-straight WAC title. Beyond catching the Wolf Pack, there is plenty to be gained in the standings. Currently Utah State sits in a three-way tie for fourth place in the WAC, but just a game behind Idaho and New Mexico State, who are currently tied for second at 4-2.

"We just have to keep battling with this team," said head coach Stew Morrill after the win over Hawaii on Thursday. "(We need to) get as many (rebounds as we can), get as high as we can and get better by the conference tournament — all those kinds of things."

Rebounding has been the glaring weakness of this year's Aggies. With Brady Jardine out for the season and Morgan Grim ailing with foot injuries, Utah State has been woefully undersized and has struggled to keep up on the glass.

Against Hawaii on Thursday night the Aggies overcame a 20-rebound deficit and allowed the Warriors to corral more offensive boards (23) than Utah State had defensive rebounds (21). Against San Jose State the Aggies will have to focus on containing forward Will Carter, who put together a 20-rebound effort against Hawaii earlier this month.

The other issue for Utah State has been getting consistent outside shooting. The Aggies will continue to see a lot of zone defenses until they can prove they can consistently hit from outside. San Jose State will mix up zone looks to try and confuse the Aggie offense.

"They play kind of a funky zone. By that I mean it's a matchup of sorts," said Morrill. "You can't get so concerned about what they are doing as what you have to do against it and run what is called."

Execution and 3-point shooting will be the key to breaking the zone looks.

Guard Danny Berger has busted out of a slump over the last two games, scoring in double figures against Idaho and Hawaii. Berger's presence has given the Aggies a sorely needed second long-range threat apart from Preston Medlin, who carried the Aggies' scoring load for most of the last month.

Aggies on the air

San Jose State (7-14, 0-6) at Utah State (11-10, 3-3)

Today, 7 p.m. MT

Smith Spectrum, Logan

TV: KMYU

Radio: 97.5 FM, 610 AMT-birds on the air

South Dakota (7-13, 2-9) at Southern Utah (11-10, 6-5)

Today, 7:30 p.m. MT

Centrum Arena, Cedar City

TV: none Radio: 91.1 FMUVU on the air

NJIT (9-10, 2-1) at Utah Valley (12-10, 2-0)

Today, 7 p.m. MT

UCCU Center, Orem

TV: UVU-TV Radio: 960 AM

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