Membership in the Big West Conference was good to the Utah State Aggies and head coach Stew Morrill.

Under Morrill, the Aggies were 92-28 in BWC play, won or tied for the regular-season crown three times, and won the conference tournament three times, earning the league's berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Aggies left the conference for the greener pastures of the Western Athletic Conference two years ago.

For the first time since bolting to the WAC, the Aggies make a non-league return to the Big West when they visit Cal Poly tonight at 8:35 p.m. (MT) and UC Irvine Saturday.

"I told the kids we used to always get a burst of energy going down there (to California)," Morrill said. "It was usually in January and February and it was colder in Logan and all that."

A burst of energy is what the Aggies need at this point. Despite being 2-1, the Aggies have had less-than-impressive home wins over Southern Utah and Montana-Western, and lost their only road game at Weber State, 78-71, last Saturday -->

"We'll find out some more things about our team and find out if we can play on the road," Morrill said. "It will be a good trip. It will bring back some memories."

It's not exactly the same trip, however. Cal Poly was paired with Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine was paired with Long Beach State.

"It will be good to go back to that sort of atmosphere, and we play well in California," Utah State guard Jaycee Carroll said.

The Aggies are 15-1 all-time against Cal Poly, but that only loss was at Cal Poly. Since the loss to Cal Poly on Jan. 3, 2002, USU has won eight straight over the Mustangs.

The Mustangs started the year with back-to-back losses to UMass and Northern Iowa before beating Northern Illinois on Sunday.

Matt Hanson and Trae Clark lead the Mustangs in scoring at 13.0 and 11.3 points per game, respectively.

Utah State leads the all-time series with UC Irvine 30-26 and have won the last five. UCI, however, is 13-11 all-time against the Aggies in games played in Irvine.

With 31 points against Montana-Western, Jaycee Carroll is now averaging 22.7 points per game and 7.3 rebounds (both team highs) while Gary Wilkinson is averaging 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds.

Utah State returns home Tuesday to face Austin Peay.

UTAH TIES: Former Snow Canyon High center Coby Leavitt has played just four minutes this year and hasn't scored a point for coach Kevin Bromley, who was an assistant coach at Southern Utah University for a time.

As a sophomore last year, Leavitt, who has battled injuries his entire time at Cal Poly, averaged just 1.5 points in 15 games, while as a freshman he started and played in seven games and averaged 7.7 points.

Aggies on the air

Utah State (2-1) at Cal Poly (1-2)

Tonight, 8:35 p.m. (MT)

TV: None Radio: 610 AM (Logan), 1320 or 1230 AM (S.L.)

E-mail: [email protected]