<strong>LOGAN—</strong> This week the USU’s men’s basketball team returns home for a two-game homestand, fresh off a dominating three-game road sweep. Tell me honestly, who saw that coming?
Coming off of four straight losses, including two in a row at home, and playing three consecutive road games against teams that all gave the full-strength Aggies plenty of trouble at home, I certainly wasn’t expecting a sweep.
The second-half performance against league leader Louisiana Tech gave me a lot of hope that this team was coming together and would end its losing streak on the road. However, I would have considered a 2-1 record on this road trip a success. Instead, USU righted the ship and reeled of three straight wins – albeit against the WAC’s lesser teams – by an average of nearly 20 points.
The competition is about to go up a few notches with two of the top three teams in the conference visiting the Spectrum this week, but regardless of whatever happens for the remainder of the season, this team has shown a lot of heart.
And right in the middle of the Aggies evolution is head coach Stew Morrill. Though Morrill’s job is about as secure as it gets, having built Utah State into somewhat of a mid-major dynasty (postseason wins not included), he is known as being very set in his ways. However, with the loss of so many core players, he has truly shown his ability to coach over the past few games. He is incorporating new plays that highlight his remaining players’ talents. He is also getting the most out of those players, as the effort and hustle in each game has been easily visible.
Speaking of Utah State basketball, it’s about time the USU women got some love as well. Not only did senior guard Devyn Christensen become the school’s all-time leading scorer in the Aggies shellacking of San Jose State Saturday, but as a team, the Aggies have put together a string of seven straight wins. That streak has lifted USU to the top of the WAC standings, after a bit of a shaky start.
With a new coach and a drastically new system, the USU women struggled early on, losing eight of their first 10 games. It didn’t help matters that the Aggies played eight of their first nine games on the road. However, after a 103-80 loss on Jan. 12 to the same SJSU team they beat 87-54, the Aggies have started to hit their stride.
During the past seven games, the Aggies have averaged nearly 80 points per game while giving up only 65 points. The defensive effort has been particularly impressive, as the USU women were allowing 80 points per game in their first 16 games of the season.
Things will get tougher for both the USU men and women this week, but at least for this moment, live is good on the basketball court for the Aggies. Both teams will look to keep their current winning streaks alive Thursday when the women travel to Denver and the men host the Pioneers in the Spectrum at 7 p.m.