LOGAN – Historically, the Utah State basketball team has not fared well against UNLV. In 35 meetings, the Aggies have come out on top just four times. The last USU victory in the series was an 18-point win on Feb. 24, 2015.
But the UNLV team coming to Logan this weekend is different than even last year’s team. The Rebels’ roster features 12 new players and a first-year coaching staff. Only three players from one year ago returned. Despite this, head coach Tim Duryea still believes he has a feel for Saturday afternoon’s opponent. UNLV’s head coach Marvin Menzies coached the New Mexico State team when both teams were in the WAC and Duryea once recruited UNLV guard Kris Clyburn.
“We’re familiar with their personnel, and obviously familiar with Coach Menzies from our days in the WAC,” Duryea said.
UNLV’s two leading scorers, Jaylen Poyser (13.8 points per game) and Tyrell Green (13.1 points per game) are two of three returning players.
“Jaylen Poyser, their leading scorer is a guy we are familiar with and have played against before,” Duryea said. “A quality guard that can hurt you from in the lane and he can also make 3s and hurt you there.”
The third returner, junior forward Dwayne Morgan, was the team’s leading rebounder, but hasn’t played in any of the last seven games due to injury. Duryea doesn’t know if he will take the court in Logan.
Both teams come into the game at .500 overall with 1-2 conference records. The only common opponent so far has been Boise State, who won in Logan by three and in Las Vegas by 18. Three of UNLV’s losses came from playing three nationally ranked teams in a stretch of 12 days.
“It’s a typical Marvin Menzies team that we used to play at New Mexico all the time,” Duryea said. “They have played a very tough schedule and I think they have done a very good job for the situation that they took over, that they’ve been in.”
Duryea tried out a new lineup against New Mexico, and he liked the results. As usual, he started Jalen Moore, Norbert Janicek, Koby McEwen and Alexis Dargenton, but he started freshman guard Sam Merrill in place of Shane Rector. Duryea said he will do the same Saturday.
“Hopefully things will go well where we can kind of settle into a rotation here and make everybody a little more effective in terms of starting games a little better on the floor and in terms of how they fit together,” he said.
Duryea said putting Merrill in the starting lineup helped make the players around him better.
“I think that is one of the things Sam helped us with the other night,” Duryea said. “Obviously, eight assists, zero turnovers, he scored the ball, missed a couple of shots I think he’ll usually make.”
Saturday’s game will tipoff at 4 p.m. in the Spectrum.