USU opens basketball season at UC Irvine Friday night

LOGAN – Basketball season is finally here, and the Aggies will start it on the road against a team it lost to a year ago. When UC Irvine visited the Spectrum in December, the Anteater team used its size to beat Utah State 73-63. The Aggies will look to get revenge Saturday night.

It was one of 28 wins for last year’s UC Irvine squad, a team that shared the Big West championship. Some of that talent is gone, but not all of it.

“They have a couple of really good players coming back in Luke Nelson and Jaron Martin in the backcourt,” USU head coach Tim Duryea said.

 UC Irvine won’t be quite as tall this year, but it will still be tall. Mamadou Ndiaye, the 7-foot-6 center from a year ago is gone, but 7-foot-2 Ioannis Dimakopoulos isn’t.

“Dimakopoulos is a problem down low because he is very, very skilled,” Duryea said. “He can score one-on-one on the block, so anytime you have a guy like that to deal with, you have to figure out defensively what you want to take away and what you want to give up.”

The Anteaters have more height than just Dimakopoulos. Three other guys on the roster listed at 6-foot-10, that outsizes all of USU’s likely players except 6-11 Snow College transfer Norbert Janicek. Duryea said he feels better about his team’s size this year, but UC Irvine is as big as any team on the schedule.

“You have to decide whether you want to try to cause them matchup issues because you go small or whether you want to try to match their size and play a little bigger,” he said.

It is still unclear who will make up the Aggie starting five, Duryea said he was still working it out, but the second year head coach will try to start the season with a win on a road, using a roster that includes just four guys that had playing time last year and seven freshman.

“Road wins in college basketball are hard to come by,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter where you play or who you play, they’re hard to come by.”

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