LOGAN — Utah State hosts Wyoming on Wednesday in a clash of two downtrodden Mountain West Conference teams.
Utah State has lost nine of its last 13 games, but the Aggies (16-13, 6-11) will have a winning streak — something they haven't had since mid-February — if they can get past the Cowboys (17-12, 8-8).
Wyoming has done well in Mountain West play, upsetting then No. 5 San Diego State in February and suffering a pair of overtime losses to now No. 21 New Mexico.
But the Cowboys have been riding a three-game losing streak since leading scorer Larry Nance Jr. went down with an ACL injury in a win over Fresno State on Feb. 18.
"They’ve had a tough little stretch here since they’ve lost Nance," USU coach Stew Morrill said. "One thing I know from playing them: They’ll come in to compete."
Sophomore guard Josh Adams has stepped up in Nance's absence, putting up 29 points in last Saturday's loss to Boise State.
The Cowboys are a solid team defensively — ranking No. 16 in the nation in points against (60.9 per game). Wyoming also ranks No. 21 in shooting percentage (48).
"They’d just as soon play in the 40s, so that puts a lot of premiums on possessions," Morrill said. "It’s going to be a possession-type, tight basketball game, and we have to be ready for that.”
Wednesday's game also has MW tournament implications for the Cowboys. Wyoming could drop to as low as No. 8 in the conference if the Cowboys also lose to Colorado State on Saturday, nixing a possible first-round bye the Cowboys might have if the tournament started today.
Utah State, however, is mathematically locked into a first-round matchup.
Morrill earned his 600th career NCAA victory with a win over San Jose State on Saturday, but the coach puts more weight in how hard his players have competed at the end of a disappointing season.
"They haven’t quit on the year, even though we’ve had some tough times," Morrill said. "We went to New Mexico last week and competed. We went to San Jose State and competed. And they can be proud of that because there’s a lot of times around the country when teams are struggling they’ll call it good, and this group hasn’t done that."
Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Tavin Stucki is a senior journalism student at Utah State University and editor-in-chief of The Utah Statesman, the Aggie campus newspaper. Twitter: @DesNewsAggies @StuckiAggies