LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball will begin competition in the Beehive Classic, a college basketball showcase at Vivint Smart Home Arena, facing Utah in 2017, Weber State in 2018 and BYU in 2019, as announced by Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment on Thursday.
The Beehive Classic, presented by Zions Bank, will feature four teams playing in an annual doubleheader each December from 2017-19. The schools will rotate opponents in a round-robin format over the three years in the soon-to-be renovated home arena of the Utah Jazz in downtown Salt Lake City.
The Aggies will open the classic in 2017 by facing Utah, a team that hasn’t appeared on the USU schedule since the 2010-11 season, a 79-62 Utah State victory in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. USU is 95-128 all-time against the Utes and have won eight of the last 13 matchups, in what was a yearly occasion from the 1944-45 season to the 2010-11 season. The Aggies have a 60-51 advantage in Logan, but trail the Utes on the road, 35-77. The teams have never met on a neutral court, despite having the second-longest rivalry in Utah State basketball history with 223 games.
Utah State and Weber State have met annually, since the 1995-96 season, with the series dating back to the 1970-71 season. The Aggies lead the Wildcats, 42-26, and have won 15 of the last 18 contests, including four straight. The teams have met twice on a neutral court, with each team capturing a victory.
Utah State and BYU have the longest rivalry in USU men’s basketball history, facing off 232 times since the 1905-06 season. USU trails the all-time series 92-140. The teams are well accustomed to the floor of Vivint Smart Homes Arena, having played in the venue during the 2008-09 and 2013-14 seasons.
The Aggies have played at the Utah Jazz home venue six times in program history and carry an overall record of 3-3, with victories over Southern Utah (76-63) during the 1994-95 season, Wyoming (73-72) during the 1996-97 season and San Diego State (64-61) during the 1997-98 season.
Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell will be available for interviews following the official announcement at 1 p.m., on Thursday at Vivint Smart Homes Arena.
“We are excited to participate in the Beehive Classic,” Hartwell said. “It is a tremendous way to promote college basketball in our basketball-crazed state. It will be a tremendous addition to our schedule here at Utah State. The opportunity for our men’s basketball student-athletes to compete on this stage, and for our fans to attend it, will be a great experience.”
Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell talked one-on-one with local media entities about the Beehive Classic, following a formal announcement at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Thursday afternoon. The following is a transcript of those interviews.
<strong>On the benefit to Utah State in being a part of the Beehive Classic</strong>
We’re really excited, not just for Utah State, but for college basketball in the state of Utah. The exposure of this event will be great for us. One of the things that the (NCAA selection) committee looks at is quality RPI games at a neutral site venue. That will be beneficial to all four of our institutions. Our goal at the end of every season is to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
<strong>On the challenge of quality RPI opponents being willing to play in Logan</strong>
Folks don’t have a tendency to come to Logan. We are working on that, but this is obviously a step in the right direction.
<strong>On Head Coach Tim Duryea’s feelings on the Beehive Classic</strong>
He’s excited about it too. He, like all of our coaches, is pounding the pavement in the last few days of an open window of recruiting. He thinks it is a great opportunity for our student-athletes to compete in a big-time venue.
<strong>On the process of putting the Beehive Classic together</strong>
It was a collaborative effort from all four institutions, working together with the Larry H. Miller group and the Utah Jazz as the facilitators. It was interesting that the questions that were asked were all things that were on the board. We had four different perspectives, but all came together in a way that we think it will be a great event.
<strong>On the timing of the event</strong>
It will be strategically timed. That weekend was not by pure chance. It will be the Saturday after conference championship games are played in football and the Saturday before bowl games start. It will be a great opportunity to showcase college basketball in the state of Utah.
<strong>On Utah State’s decision to participate</strong>
It has really created an opportunity to play high level RPI games at a neutral site, and that really holds a lot of weight with the NCAA selection committee. All four institutions’ end goal in a basketball season is to advance to an NCAA Tournament and this will help us to achieve that goal.
<strong>On the expectation of Aggie fans traveling to Salt Lake City for the games</strong>
We are excited about it with each game having designated student sections and having your pep band there, will really make it a festive and great atmosphere.
Utah State men’s basketball news 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).