Weber Coach Denny Huston pointed in the general direction of his heart. "If I could put my finger on it," he said, "it would be here; we have to have a better second effort."
The little things turned the tide Wednesday night in the Dee Center.Utah State did them. Weber didn't.
"They got so many easy baskets," said Huston, remembering when Utah State made the right split-second decisions, rebounded and found the quick outlet for a fast break, stole a Wildcat inbounds pass and scored on the turnover or came up with a loose ball. "There were too many balls rolling around that we didn't come up with," Huston said.
The Aggies won 82-72, frittering away some of a 17-point lead in the final 11/2 minutes when Coach Kohn Smith put in all his players who hadn't played and wound up with a five-forward team.
It was the Aggies' second straight win, both over Weber, after a four-game season-opening losing streak. Weber lost to Utah Monday after falling in Logan last Thursday and is on a five-game losing streak, the longest since Huston came to Ogden three seasons ago.
Smith considered Wednesday's win Utah State's most consistent game yet.
To Huston, Utah State's win last week bred the Aggies' success Wednesday. He saw new resolve in his opponents. "They didn't play great (last week) because they didn't have a lot of confidence, but a lot of balls went down tonight that didn't in Logan," Huston said.
The Aggies shot .509 from the field, only the second team above 50 percent this season against the Wildcats.
"If we play like that, we'll be tough to beat," said USU's Kendall Youngblood. "We've got to have four or five guys in double figures."
They had five: Youngblood with 19, Jay Goodman 17, Randy Funk and Allen Gordon 11 and Bryon Ruffner 10.
"We stepped up and drilled some shots," said Smith, noting in particular the Aggie spurt that finally shook the 'Cats. After a 34-25 score at halftime, Weber cut the lead to three on two Al Hamilton baskets, making it 36-33. Two baskets from Jason Joe and one from Tony Nicholas kept Weber just two behind at 37-35, 39-37 and 41-39.
Aggie Rich Jardine then popped a three from the top of the key at 13:49, and baskets by Funk and Gordon, both after Weber turnovers, jumped the Aggie margin to 48-40.
David Baldwin's basket and Bell's free throw made it 48-43, but Youngblood hurled a three-pointer for another eight-point lead that kept the 'Cats swimming against the current.
By the time there were just three minutes left, the Aggies were having their way: Gordon even got a basket after losing his dribble on a fast break. The ball bounced off Youngblood back to Gordon in stride for the layin.
No matter who Smith put in, the job got done. Funk played well, and so did his replacement, Jeff Parris, still coming back from injury. Parris' return "is a sign of us coming on," Smith said. Ruffner and Gary Patterson served the Aggies well off the bench, too.
"We're finally developing a rotation; we know our roles and make the adjustments as we go," said Smith.
"It was good to have the other guys come in and give us some help," said Funk.
Especially when Jardine and Goodman didn't have good nights. Jardine had eight points and one rebound, five below his average in each case. Goodman was 6-for-17 shooting. Smith said flu affected Goodman's jumping and therefore his outside shot.
Youngblood and Funk controlled the game. Youngblood was 5-for-9 shooting and had seven rebounds, while Funk was 5-for-8 with nine rebounds, the game-high. Youngblood's contribution included play against Wildcat leader Bell; Funk was matched with the 'Cats' inside threat, Baldwin.
Youngblood and Funk played spirited first halves - 10 points and four rebounds for Youngblood while Bell had four points; seven points and six rebounds for Funk while Baldwin had four points and one rebound.
Youngblood, of course, is an Ogdenite from Bonneville High. "It's good to come down here," he said. "I had to get all kinds of tickets for people to watch the game," he said. "I don't like to leave losing," he said.