Utah State men’s basketball has announced its complete 2017-18 schedule, featuring three in-state clashes and a meeting with the 2017 NCAA runner-up.
The Aggies will host a lone exhibition on Friday, Nov. 3, facing Great Falls for a second-consecutive year. USU posted an 84-51 victory over the Argos in a regular season game last season.
“Our non-conference season is, once again, very strong,” head men’s basketball coach Tim Duryea said. “Weber State will kick it off again, and that is always a tough opener with them.”
The 2017-18 season officially gets underway when the Aggies open at Weber State on Friday, Nov. 10. Utah State has won four of the last five games against the Wildcats and three of the last four in Ogden. The road opener will mark the third-consecutive year that the Aggies have opened on the road, including a 73-70 victory over Weber State to open the 2015-16 season.
USU plays host to Montana State in its home opener on Monday, Nov. 13, and follows that contest up with another home game two days later, welcoming Mississippi Valley State to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Utah State has won 23-consecutive home openers and is 51-9 in home openers dating back to the 1957-58 season.
The Aggies will open a 12-day road trip and take part in the PK80, celebrating the 80th birthday of Nike founder Paul Knight, facing 2017 NCAA runner-up Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington, on Saturday, Nov. 18. That game will be followed by a contest against Portland State on Monday, Nov. 20, and then a pair of neutral site games against Northeastern and New Hampshire in Nashville, Tennessee, on Nov. 24-25.
Utah State wraps up its road tilt in Valparaiso, Indiana, facing Valparaiso on Tuesday, Nov. 28, as part of the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Conference Challenge. The Aggies are 1-1 all-time in the MW/MVC Challenge, posting a 69-68 victory at Missouri State during the 2015-16 season and a 62-61 loss to Indiana State last year in Logan.
“We will have a unique opportunity to take part in the PK80,” Duryea said. “Playing at Gonzaga will be a tremendous opportunity, and it is a team that we have not played since I’ve been here. It isn’t often in college basketball that you are on the road for 12 days, but we’ve got that in November and that will be a challenge for our team.”
The Aggies return to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for back-to-back home games to open the month of December, hosting BYU on Saturday, Dec. 2, and UC Irvine on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
Utah State then renews its second-longest rivalry in school history, facing Utah at Vivint Smart Home Arena in the Beehive Classic on Saturday, Dec. 9. The two teams have not faced since the 2010 season, a 79-62 victory for the Aggies in Logan.
“That will be a great day for basketball fans, watching four in-state schools go at it in Salt Lake,” Duryea said of the Beehive Classic. “We are looking forward to renewing that rivalry with Utah and facing them at a neutral site.”
USU will face its only non-Division-I opponent during the regular season in Life Pacific on Saturday, Dec. 16, and then closes out its non-conference slate with a home game against Youngstown State on Wednesday, Dec. 20.
The Aggies open their Mountain West schedule with San José State at home on Thursday, Dec. 28. The opener will mark the third time in the last four years that the Aggies have opened league play against the Spartans. Utah State is a perfect 2-0 against SJSU in MW openers, posting an 80-71 victory on the road during the 2015-16 campaign and a 61-33 win inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum during the 2014-15 season.
“Any time the schedule comes out in this league, the first thing you look at is the two teams you only play once,” Duryea said. “This schedule is similar to the one we played a couple of years ago. It has a familiar feel to it.”
The 2017-18 conference slate for the Aggies closely matches the 2014-15 schedule as Utah State will only play San Diego State and Colorado State once during the year. With similar scheduling, USU finished 11-7 in the Mountain West in 2014-15, its best finish in the league since joining prior to the 2013-14 season.
Utah State will face the Aztecs for the first and only time during the regular season on Saturday, Dec. 30, in San Diego, before returning to Logan for a home contest against Fresno State on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The Aggies play their final game during the winter break at UNLV, facing the Runnin’ Rebels in Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 6.
USU then hosts Colorado State on Wednesday, Jan. 10. The first two-game road swing follows with games at Nevada and Boise State on Saturday, Jan. 13, and Wednesday, Jan. 17, respectively. The two-game road swing makes way for a two-game homestand, when the Aggies host Wyoming and Air Force on Saturday, Jan. 20, and Wednesday, Jan. 24, respectively.
Utah State will close out the month of January at Fresno State on Saturday, Jan. 27, and then at home against New Mexico on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The Aggies have their first bye week the opening weekend of February, before facing Wyoming on the road on Saturday, Feb. 3, and Boise State at home on Saturday, Feb. 10.
The Aggies will celebrate Valentine’s Day in Albuquerque, facing New Mexico on Wednesday, Feb. 14, just two weeks after facing the Lobos the final weekend of January. A home game against Nevada on Saturday, Feb. 17, will precede the final bye week for the Aggies.
Utah State closes out its conference schedule with a pair of road games at Air Force and San José State on Saturday, Feb. 24, and Wednesday, Feb. 28, before hosting UNLV inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for Senior Night on Saturday, March 3.
“I’m pleased that we start and finish at home and that we only have two home games over Christmas Break, as opposed to three, when our students aren’t here,” Duryea said. “You always want to finish at home, if you can, before going to the Mountain West Tournament, and we do that with the UNLV game. All in all, I’m pleased.”
All dates are subject to change with television games yet to be determined. Mountain West national television partners CBS Sports Network and ESPN will initiate a selection procedure that will include the shifting of Wednesday games to Tuesday and Saturday games to Sunday. The national television selections will follow with regional partner AT&T SPORTS NET and the Mountain West Network on Stadium beginning their picks after the national television lineup has been announced.
Utah State is entering its fifth year in the Mountain West, compiling an overall mark of 32-40 during that span. The record includes a 2-2 mark in league openers and a 21-15 mark inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Utah State is set to return seven letterwinners, including four returning starters from last season. In the mix is 2016-17 Mountain West Freshman of the Year Koby McEwen, who finished second on the team with 14.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. The total was the most since Jaycee Carroll averaged 14.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman during the 2004-05 season.
Joining McEwen in arguably the best one-two punch in the backcourt in the MW is Sam Merrill, who wrapped up his freshman year third on the team in scoring with 9.4 points per game and led the Aggies with 98 assists, finishing seventh in the nation with an assist to turnover ratio of 3.27.
Utah State returns the entirety of its frontcourt in senior Alex Dargenton and juniors Norbert Janicek and Quinn Taylor, who appeared in every game for the Aggies last season. Dargenton led USU with 34 blocks last season and finished third on the team with 4.7 rebounds per contest.
The squad will also benefit in the return of three redshirts in freshmen forwards Klay Stall and Daron Henson, as well as freshman guard Abel Porter. That group is joined by five newcomers in junior college transfers Dwayne Brown and DeAngelo Isby, who will enter as juniors and have two years to play, and freshmen Brock Miller, Crew Ainge and Justin Bean, who are returning from LDS Church missions.
Kyle Cottam is the Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Utah State University.