LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball will open its 2016-17 Mountain West slate on Dec. 28, hosting Boise State, as announced by the conference office on Tuesday. The opener will mark the first time in three years that the Aggies have began their MW schedule with an opponent other than San José State.
The game also marks the second year in a row that the Aggies will play the Broncos during the Winter break and will be the first of three homes games during the stretch before the 2017 spring semester starts. The homestand also includes games against New Mexico on Jan. 4 and UNLV on Jan. 7.
“As always the Mountain West schedule will be very challenging, no matter what order you play the games,” head coach Tim Duryea said. “I feel bad for our students and our players that we have three conference home games before our students are back in class for the spring semester. However, we are looking forward to a very competitive, wide open league, similar to last year, with a lot of quality teams from top to bottom.”
Utah State will also have its first road game during the same stretch, celebrating New Year’s in Colorado Springs with a New Year’s Eve game at Air Force on Dec. 31. The road games continue, following the home games against New Mexico and UNLV, with contests at Wyoming on Jan. 11 and at San Diego State on Jan. 14.
The Aggies will have their first bye and then will host Colorado State on Jan. 21 before returning to the road for the second contest of the season against New Mexico on Jan. 25. Utah State then hosts its lone contest against Fresno State on Jan. 28 and will open the month of February with a home game against Nevada on Feb. 1.
Utah State returns to the road for a pair of games at Boise State on Feb. 4 and at Colorado State on Feb. 8, before hosting back-to-back home games against Wyoming on Feb. 11 and San Diego State on Feb. 15.
The Aggies will then play three of their final four games of the season on the road with contests at Nevada on Feb. 18, the only matchup against San José State on Feb. 25 and the regular season finale at UNLV on March 1. Utah State will play its final home game on Feb. 25, hosting Air Force on Senior Night.
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 which will include the shifting of Wednesday games to Tuesday and Saturday games to Sunday. The national television selections should be completed by the middle of August. Regional partner ROOT SPORTS and the Mountain West Network on Campus Insiders will begin their picks after the national television lineup has been announced.
Utah State will be entering its fourth year in the Mountain West, compiling an overall mark of 25-29 over that span. The record includes a 2-1 mark in league openers and a 15-12 mark inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The Aggies will return three starters and four letterwinners from last season in senior wing Jalen Moore, senior guard Shane Rector, junior guard Julion Pearre and sophomore forward Quinn Taylor, and will also return a pair of redshirts in freshman guard Jake Miles and sophomore forward Alexis Dargenton. The Utah State roster will be rounded out by seven new additions in guards Koby McEwen (Wasatch Academy), Sam Merrill (Bountiful HS), returning from an LDS Church Mission in Nicaragua, and Diogo Brito (Mountain Mission HS (Va.)), currently playing with the Portugese National Team in European competition. The guard corps will be complimented by four post players, all 6-foot-8 or taller, in Norbert Janicek (Snow College), Klay Stall (Basha HS (Ariz.)), Daron Henson (Cathedral HS (Calif.)) and Ngor Barnaba (Missouri State-West Plains).
With the exception of Brito, all of the 2016-17 roster is currently on campus and taking part in summer conditioning. The group is enrolled in classes and helping with summer basketball camps, in addition to strength and conditioning four days a week and working with coaches two hours per week. The summer program began on June 13 and will continue through July 28.
The group does not include three players from the 2015-16 squad that have been granted their release, including junior guard Henry Bolton III, sophomore guard John Middleton and junior forward Elston Jones. Bolton III will be transferring to South Carolina Aiken, Middleton to Valparaiso, while Jones is exploring other options.
Bolton III appeared in 38 games over two years at Utah State, averaging 0.9 points and 0.7 rebounds per game. Middleton appeared in eight games for the Aggies last season after originally being slated to redshirt. Middleton averaged 1.8 points and 0.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 30.8 percent (4-of-13) from the field. Jones appeared in 59 games over two years in Logan, starting in 10 last season. Overall, Jones averaged 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 49.3 percent (66-of-134) from the floor.
“In Division I basketball there is always going to be competition for playing time at every spot,” Duryea said of the departures. “Kids take stock in their futures at the end of every season and make decisions that, they feel, are best for them regarding their basketball futures. We wish these three players success in their next stop.”
Utah State men’s basketball new and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumen’sbasketball) and on Twitter (@Aggiehoops). Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).