Utah State basketball: Rare home game against Mississippi State kicks off busy week for Aggies

Published: Friday, Nov. 22 2013 7:10 p.m. MST

Utah State's TeNale Roland (20) looks to make a pass while being guarded by Southern California's Julian Jacobs during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Logan, Utah.

John Zsiray, AP

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LOGAN — So far, Utah State's basketball team has had a fairly light schedule. The Aggies have taken the court just three times during the first 14 days of the season, but starting Saturday night they will enter into the most difficult portion of their nonconference schedule.

USU will play three games in a week, beginning with Mississippi State in the Spectrum on Saturday night. The Aggies follow that up with a contest at Weber State on Tuesday and an in-state rivalry game with BYU at EnergySolutions Arena next Saturday.

To prepare for the busy week, the Aggies only took Wednesday off after returning from their victory over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday night.

“It was a little bit different practice schedule, but it’s given us a chance to add some things and work on some things,” head coach Stew Morrill said. “I always like practice time better than the players do. They came out and practiced well (Thursday). I think the day off helped them.”

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are led by sophomore forward Gavin Ware, who has grabbed double-digit rebounds in every game this season and also leads the team at 15.7 points per game. Mississippi State comes into the contest with a perfect 3-0 record, but its first three opponents have combined for just a single Division I victory and all three games were at home.

Mississippi State is the first team from the Southeastern Conference to visit the Spectrum since Georgia in 1985 and only the fourth SEC team to ever play in Logan. In their season opener against USC, the Aggies faced a Pac-12 team in Logan for the first time since 1977. Besides both schools coming from power conferences, Morrill and his players see a lot of similarities in the type of players USC and Mississippi State have.

“I think the main thing that is similar is being from one of the power conferences and the types of athletes that those schools generate,” Morrill said. “I think that’s what our guys saw. They run on makes and misses like USC, where they’re looking to be aggressive and push the ball on the break. … 1985 was the last time we had an SEC team here, so it’s a pretty rare thing. We’re excited about it and hopefully our fans are excited about it.”

It will be a busy weekend for Aggie fans as the football team plays Colorado State during the day. However, Morrill isn’t worried about the football game affecting the attendance for the basketball game.

“Good luck to the football team and I know they’ll wish us good luck. If you’re a hard-core Aggie, it’s a great day. If you tire easily, it might be a little more than you bargained for,” Morrill joked. “Hopefully the stands are filled for our game with the hard-core Aggies. The more hard-core the better.”

Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.

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