Utah State men's basketball: Aggies enter WAC Tournament as 4th seed, will face Fresno State Thursday

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, March 5 2012 8:57 a.m. MST

For the first time in five years, Utah State (17-14, 8-6) will not be the top seed in the upcoming Western Athletic Conference postseason tournament. This year, USU will be the fourth seed and play fifth-seeded Louisiana Tech (16-15, 6-8) on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

The game will not be televised.

Utah State swept the season series with Louisiana Tech winning 69-65 in Ruston, La. and 77-63 in Logan. Overall, USU is 14-2 all-time against LTU including a 2-0 record in the WAC Tournament.

Utah State enters the WAC Tournament having won five of its last seven games, including each of its last three, which is its second-longest winning streak of the season.

In other quarterfinal matchups on Thursday, third-seeded Idaho (18-12, 9-5) will play sixth-seeded Hawaii (15-15, 6-8) in the first game of the day at 1 p.m., followed by second-seeded New Mexico State (23-9, 10-4) playing seventh-seeded Fresno State (13-19, 3-11) at 3:30 p.m.

The third quarterfinal game will have top-seeded Nevada (25-5, 13-1) playing eighth-seeded San Jose State (9-21, 1-13) at 7 p.m., followed by the Aggies' game against LTU at 9:30 p.m.

The semifinals will be played on Friday with the winner of the Idaho vs. Hawaii game facing the winner of the New Mexico State vs. Fresno State game at 7 p.m. The other semifinal game will have the winner of the Nevada vs. San Jose State game playing the winner of the Utah State vs. Louisiana Tech game at 9:30 p.m.

Both semifinal games will be televised live throughout the state of Utah on KMYU-TV (Comcast Ch. 12, DirecTV Ch. 12, Dish Network Ch. 12, Over-the-Air Ch. 2.2).

The championship game of the WAC Tournament will be played on Saturday at 10 p.m. and will be televised live nationally on ESPN2.

Utah State is 12-4 (.750) all-time in the WAC Tournament, having advanced to the championship game five times (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) in its first six years in the league, including winning the tournament championship in 2009 and 2011.

Under head coach Stew Morrill, USU is 25-7 (.781) in postseason conference tournaments and has won six tournament championships (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011). During the last 12 years, USU has played in its conference's postseason tournament championship game 10 times.

Utah State is 5-6 (.455) all-time as the No. 4 seed in conference tournaments and has advanced to the championship game twice (1996, 2007), losing both games. Overall, it is the seventh time in school history that USU has entered postseason play as the No. 4 seed.

The last time USU was the fourth seed in a conference tournament was in 2007 when it defeated Hawaii (73-70) and No. 9 Nevada (79-77), before losing at New Mexico State (72-70) in the WAC championship game. USU is also 16-14 (.533) all-time in quarterfinal games, including a 5-0 record since joining the WAC. In fact, USU has won nine-straight quarterfinal games dating back to the 2000 season.

Fans can contact the Orleans Box Office at 775-348-7225 for all-session tickets, while single-game tickets can only be purchased the day of the game at the Orleans Box Office.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.

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