When New Mexico State pulls up to the Smith Spectrum tonight, Utah State's Jaycee Carroll might be right there at the door ready to greet it.
First, it will be Utah State's first game in nine days, and secondly, Carroll is prone to having his best games against the maroon Aggies, especially when the game is on TV.
The Aggies (11-5, 1-0) haven't played since beating Hawaii 86-80 Jan. 3 in Logan. They were scheduled to play Nevada in Reno last Saturday, but heavy snow and wind that hit the area forced the postponement of the game.
"I've had long breaks before and sometimes you're refreshed, sometimes you're rusty," said Utah State coach Stew Morrill, who is one win shy of tying E. Lowell Romney for the most wins in Utah State history with 225.
"It's really hard to predict on how you're going to come out. We're trying to have as much live action as we can," he said.
Tonight's game tips at 7 p.m. on FSN-Utah.
The Aggies tried to go as live as possible Thursday night, the same night New Mexico State beat Boise State, 76-73, in Boise.
Carroll, who scored 26 in the win over Hawaii, stands just 45 points shy of tying Greg Grant as Utah State's all-time leading scorer, and Carroll could do it by scoring one point over his career high set last year against New Mexico State.
Carroll went 12 of 16 from the field (5-of-7 from the 3-point line) and 15-for-15 for 44 points in leading the Aggies to the 75-63 win. One year earlier he hit 11-of-19 shots (10-of-16 from the 3-point line) in scoring a then career-high 32 against New Mexico State in Las Cruces.
The Aggies, however, haven't beaten NSMU since, having lost at New Mexico State in the regular season last year when Carroll scored 30, and then again in the championship game of the WAC tournament (in Las Cruces) where Carroll had 26.
"They are very similar to last year's team in terms of talent level," Morrill said. "... They were picked to be at the top of our league for a reason and Justin Hawkins is one of the big reasons. (Fred) Peete is another and (Jonathan) Gibson is playing great. They're a very talented team."
At one point, New Mexico State, which lost to Texas 79-67 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, was 5-9, but they have fought back to .500 (9-9) and are 3-0 in WAC play. Since losing to Louisville on Dec. 22, the Aggies posted wins over Alcorn State, Idaho, Fresno State and Boise State.
Hawkins, a transfer from the University of Utah, leads five NMSU players who score in double figures with 18.7 points and a team-high eight rebounds per game. Jahmar Young (in just five games) is averaging 14 points, while Gibson averages 12.5 and Peete is at 11.8. Center Hatila Passos averages 10.5 points, but he hasn't played in the last five games for disciplinary reasons.
Carroll leads Utah State and the WAC in scoring at 21.6 points a game while grabbing eight rebounds per game. Gary Wilkinson (11.6) and Stephen DuCharme (10.9) also average in double figures for Utah State, while Tai Wesley, who scored a career-high 27 against Hawaii, is averaging 9.7.Utah State has won six straight games.
Aggies on the air
New Mexico State (9-9, 3-0) at Utah State (11-5, 1-0)
Tonight, 7 p.m., Smith Spectrum
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