Utah State Aggies basketball: Texas A&M has experience in eliminating Utah schools

Published: Monday, Oct. 5 2015 1:37 p.m. MDT

Texas A&M forward Khris Middleton (22) comes off the bench to boost USU's first round NCAA Tournament foe. (Alonzo Adams, Associated Press) Texas A&M forward Khris Middleton (22) comes off the bench to boost USU's first round NCAA Tournament foe. (Alonzo Adams, Associated Press)

LOGAN — Texas A&M is getting used to this sort of thing.

For the third time in as many seasons, the Aggies from Texas have been matched up with a team from the Beehive State.

And after beating BYU in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments, Texas A&M might be excused for welcoming the chance to face another one — this time Utah State.

Regardless of who they're playing, these Aggies (23-9 and ranked No. 23 in both polls) will be a confident team.

"I really thought we'd be a four seed, but I'm happy to be a five. We've had a fantastic year, won 11 games in the No. 1 conference and we got rewarded," Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "We've won nine of our last 12 games, and two of the losses were to the overall No. 1 seed (Kansas), and we led both those games in the second half."

A&M is led by senior guard Donald Sloan, and the high scorer has been to the tournament in each of his four seasons.

Sunday "was completely different for us this year. We were on pins and needles the last couple of years," Sloan said, noting there was little doubt the team would receive an at-large invitation to the big dance. "We've played a tough schedule, and we've earned everything we've gotten this year. We're a confident team. ... I think we'll be ready to hit the floor running on Friday."

But not before a few days of preparing for Utah State — a team they admit they know very little about but certainly respect.

"Utah State has been in postseason play 10 straight years and is a special program," Turgeon said. "They certainly won't be afraid of the NCAA Tournament environment, especially after losing a close game last year to Marquette."

Sloan averaged 18.2 points per game and is the clear go-to guy on offense for A&M. Slowing the 6-foot-3 senior will be USU swingman Pooh Williams' task.

But USU is well aware there are plenty of other weapons Texas A&M has at its disposal.

"They're obviously a talented, athletic group from a great conference," USU coach Stew Morrill said. "I'm sure we're going to watch (film) and go 'Oh, my goodness' at their talent."

That's an expression the Aggies — the ones from Utah, especially — hope to be saying Friday night after the game, too.

If Utah State can end the state's dry streak and get past A&M, they'll face the winner of the Purdue-Sienna game.

e-mail: jeborn@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company