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USU basketball: Aggies to host Illinois State in ESPNU BracketBusters game

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 5 2013 12:44 p.m. MST

FILE - Utah State basketball coach Stew Morrill calls out to his players in the second half of their NCAA college basketball game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011.

Rogelio V. Solis, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Enlarge photo»

Utah State men's basketball will host Illinois State of the Missouri Valley Conference during the annual ESPN Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. MST, in a non-televised game.

Utah State is 5-2 overall in BracketBusters, playing in a non-televised game for the second year in a row after five-straight years of being televised on the ESPN networks.

USU lost to UC Santa Barbara, 72-64, in last season's BracketBusters game at home, after winning its previous two BracketBusters games, including winning at No. 24 Saint Mary's, 75-65, in 2011. USU also defeated Wichita State at home during the 2009-10 season, lost at Saint Mary's in 2008-09, defeated UC Santa Barbara at home during the 2007-08 season, won at Oral Roberts during the 2006-07 campaign, and defeated Northwestern State at home during the 2005-06 season.

The Redbirds of Illinois State are 13-10 overall and 4-7 in MVC action after routing Southern Illinois, 83-47, on Saturday.

Illinois State has won four of its last five games after snapping a six-game losing streak. The Redbirds are 3-5 on the road this season, losing four of their last five away games. ISU is led by senior forward Jackie Carmichael, a returning second-team all-MVC selection, who is averaging 17.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. He is also adding 2.0 blocks per game. Senior guard Tyler Brown adds 15.5 ppg, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

ISU returned four starters from last season's 21-14 team, losing to Creighton, 83-79 in overtime, in the MVC Tournament Championship game. The Redbirds advanced to last season's National Invitational Tournament, winning the first round game at Ole Miss, 96-93 in OT, before losing at Stanford, 93-88 in OT, in the second round.

Utah State and Illinois State will be meeting for just the sixth time in school history, as the Redbirds currently lead the all-time series, 3-2. The last time the two teams met was in Normal, Ill., on March 19, 2008, in the first round of the NIT with ISU collecting a 61-57 win. The last time the two teams met in Logan was on Nov. 29, 2003, with USU notching an 89-84 win. This will be the fourth regular-season match-up between the Aggies and Redbirds, as the two teams also played in the first round of the 1995 NIT with Illinois State defeating Utah State, 93-87, in overtime.

With a win over Southern Illinois earlier this season, the Aggies improved to 16-15 all-time against current members of the MVC as it is 1-2 against Bradley, 2-2 against Creighton, 2-1 against Drake, 2-0 against Evansville, 2-3 against Illinois State, 1-0 against Indiana State, 1-2 against Southern Illinois and 6-5 against Wichita State.

Utah State improved its overall record to 16-5 and its Western Athletic Conference ledger to 7-4 with a pair of road wins over the weekend, winning at Idaho on Thursday and at Seattle on Saturday.

The Aggies are led by junior center Jarred Shaw with 13.5 ppg and 8.4 rpg. He also adds 1.2 blocks per game. Junior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield adds 10.6 ppg and 5.8 rpg, while leading the team with 42.9 percent from three-point range.

The Aggies wrap up their three-game road swing at San Jose State on Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. MST. Utah State then returns home to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum to host Denver on Thursday, Feb. 14, and New Mexico State on Saturday, Feb. 16. Both games tip at 7 p.m.

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

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