LOGAN — Utah State basketball is on the verge of doing something it hasn’t done in almost 20 years. The problem is, it’s not a milestone the Aggies want anything to do with.
With Thursday night’s loss against UT-Arlington the Aggies are in the middle of their first three-game losing streak since dropping three road games in mid-February 2008. One more loss would give the Aggies four-straight losses for the first time under head coach Stew Morrill and the first time overall since January of 1994.
To put that into perspective, Utah State has gone two entire seasons (2003-2004 and 2010-2011) since then with just four losses.
The Aggies will have their work cut out for them to avoid adding to the skid against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs (17-3, 8-0 WAC) are on a streak of their own, going unbeaten in their last nine games. Much like Arlington on Thursday night, Tech will pressure and trap the ball handler in an attempt to force turnovers. The Mavericks were able to force 17 Aggie turnovers; a number Morrill knows will need to go down to give USU any chance on Saturday night.
“We just can’t be satisfied with playing close because we’re playing with a little bit of a skeleton crew. There are no moral victories. There’s just winning and losing and we have to keep fighting,” Morrill said after losing to UTA 74-68. “..It’s a big challenge to lose the first one at home in a weekend series. You have to be tough enough to come back and compete. If not, you are going to drop a couple.”
Also a concern for Morrill was the Aggies effort on Thursday night. With only eight healthy scholarship players on roster right now, Utah State has to get maximum energy from every guy on the floor. Morrill wasn’t shy to say that he felt some players didn’t give a full effort on Thursday night, but stopped short of naming names.
“We had some guys play about as hard as they could play and some other guys I’d like to see play harder,” Morrill said. “ We need everyone to play as hard as they possibly can and then maybe we can get a close game like that.”
One player whose effort cannot be questioned is Spencer Butterfield. The junior guard did his best to step into the scoring and leadership void left by Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed’s injuries. Butterfield posted season-highs in points with 23 and rebounds with 11 despite batteling foul trouble for most of the second half.
“Coaches will get us prepared,” Butterfield said on Thursday night. “We’ll have a good game plan and a good practice on Friday and we’ll be ready.”
Aggies on the Air
Louisiana Tech (17-3, 8-0 WAC) at Utah State (14-4, 5-3 WAC)
Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 • 7 p.m. (MT) • Logan, Utah
Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270)
RADIO: Aggie Sports Network
TV: KMYU TV
Kraig is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.