Continuing a habit formed in intra-squad games, Utah State scored like the Denver Nuggets while playing a better brand of defense Thursday night in its first basketball exhibition.
With 65 points in each half, Utah State blitzed a Fellowship of Christian Athletes team 130-96 in the Spectrum."We've been scoring a lot," said senior forward Rich Jardine. "If we can just stop people, we'll be fine," he laughed.
Jardine led Aggie scorers with 21 points on 9-for-12 shooting. Guard Harold Wright and forward Mike Terpstra of the FCA Blue Angels team based in the Pacific Northwest scored 24 each.
The Aggies at times were spectacular in their ability to stop the Blue Angels and get into transition, stealing often and snapping passes to the right places. FCA had 21 turnovers the first half; USU had 17 steals for the game.
Part of that was due to Aggie skill and part due to a slower foe that insisted on fast breaking, said Ag Coach Kohn Smith. "We have the capability of making outstanding plays in the open court and scoring quickly," he said.
He also noted FCA won at Portland Tuesday and, though the Blue Angels didn't have three players listed on the roster, they did have Mark Eilers, who played tough inside and scored 15.
Because FCA played a three-guard lineup much of the game, Smith did, too, and liked how it worked. He pronounced the Aggie perimeter solid.
"We have a lot of work to do inside defensively," Smith said, looking ahead to Monday's exhibition with Belgium-Gent, a bigger team, and the Nov. 24 regular-season opener at BYU, where Shawn Bradley awaits.
Jardine, Brent Lofton and freshman Bryon Ruffner impressed Smith. All-America candidate Kendall Youngblood, who had 13 points, "seems to play better when there is more at stake. He can play much better," Smith said.
In fact, all the Aggies were "a little more relaxed than they needed to be," said Smith, unhappy at 18 turnovers. He could live with the no-look, backward-over-the-head passes for one night.
"It was fun for us. We shot well," said Youngblood. The Aggie percentage was 53.