From 1981 through 1985, BYU couldn't beat Utah State in basketball. No matter where the two rivals played, no matter who was favored, the Aggies had a whammy going against the Cougars, winning nine straight.
Then beginning in 1986, the worm turned. BYU started beating the Aggies and haven't stopped since. Tonight (6 p.m.) in the Marriott Center, in the second game of a unique football/basketball doubleheader, the Cougars go for their ninth straight win over the Ags.Of course don't ask the coaches about streaks or hexes or luck.
"Every game is a unique game," says BYU's Roger Reid. "Anything can happen."
At this point, Reid wants a victory over anybody. He's had to wait 10 days since BYU's last game, a disappointing 83-80 loss to East Tennessee State in an NIT first-round game. "We're not happy to be 0-1," he said.
The Cougars have a young team led by freshman phenom Shawn Bradley, who scored 23 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in his collegiate debut. Other starters include Nathan Call and Mark Heslop at the guardline, Steve Schreiner at forward and either freshman Ken Roberts or JC transfer Jared Miller at the other forward.
"They're huge," said USU's Kohn Smith of BYU. "I have no idea how to defend the post against BYU and I'm serious. We've got to try to use quickness to counteract them and we need to shoot the ball well".
Despite a definite height advantage, Reid is concerned about the Aggies' advantage in the quickness department.
"We don't have that kind of quickness," said Reid. "We'll have a problem all year with quickness and penetrating guards."
The Aggies will go with either senior Allen Gordon or transfer Jay Goodman at point guard along with Kendall Youngblood, who can also move up to play the small forward position. Sophomore Brent Lofton will spell Youngblood at guard.
Inside the Aggies will rotate several players, including returnees Randy Funk, Rich Jardine, Gary Patterson and freshmen Eric Franson and Bryon Ruffner. Franson, a 6-7 forward from American Fork, is expected to start.
"They're an experienced, veteran basketball team," said Reid. "They lose by one to Nevada-Las Vegas, who goes on to beat Duke by 30 points for the national championship. That's enough to frighten anyone. And Kohn says they're improved."
The two rivals will play again the following Saturday in Logan, although BYU has a game with Weber State in between on Nov. 29.