LOGAN Utah State guard Kris Clark worked on his shooting all summer to improve his offensive game.
For a time, Utah State coach Stew Morrill used the 6-foot-2-inch senior at the small forward position in an effort to remedy the Aggies' early woes at that position.
Morrill called the experiment "poor," not because Clark could score the ball but because they missed his ability to distribute the basketball.
"We want him to be a pass-first guy, and he is," Morrill said. "That has been a real positive for our team this last while (as Kris is) settling in on his role."
Solidly entrenched at the point guard position, Clark's points aren't spectacular but his assists are.
He's averaging 4.5 points per game while shooting 37.7 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from the 3-point line. He has a team-high 85 assists with only 27 turnovers. Three other players on the team have more.
"He's settled in at playing the point for our team and shooting sparingly," Morrill said. "Most of his shots come on the break when he's got the opportunity there or where someone kicks out to him when he's wide open later in the shot clock."
In his last seven games, Clark had 41 assists and just eight turnovers. In two of the games he didn't turn the ball over, and never did he have more than two in the other games.
He recorded a career-high 10 in the Aggies' 87-65 win over Utah Valley last week.
Clark leads the Western Athletic Conference in assists-to-turnover ratio (3.1 assists to every turnover) and is second in assist per game by one-tenth of a percentage point (6.07). In the last national rankings (Dec. 16) he was ranked 23rd in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Morrill is grateful to see Clark take on more of a team-player type role and put his scoring on the back-burner especially after Clark worked so hard to improve his offensive game.
"That's hard and that's also what team sports are all about," Morrill said. "You have to succumb to what is best for the team."
Through the first seven games, the Aggies (9-5) were 3-4, but they have won six of the last seven since Clark has stepped up his game.
The Aggies, who have the WAC high four-game winning streak, host Oral Roberts tonight at 7 p.m. (or shortly after the conclusion of the BYU-Utah State women's game) at the Smith Spectrum. The Aggies are 5-1 all-time against the Eagles. It is the fourth meeting in the last three years and the Aggies have won all three.
Utah State's last win over ORU came last February in an ESPN BracketBuster game. The Aggies fell behind 14-0 to start the game but came back to win 71-65.
The Eagles have four players that score in double-figures, led by Robert Javis (16.5), Marcus Lewis (11.0), Shawn King (10.3) and Moses Ehambe (10.3), while Adam Liberty is averaging 9.5.Jaycee Carroll leads the Aggies in scoring at 21.8 points a game, but he is averaging 32.5 in his last two outings.
Aggies on the air
Oral Roberts (7-4) at Utah State (9-5)
Today, 7 p.m., Smith Spectrum