LOGAN – It has been a rough stretch for Utah State basketball.
The Aggies currently have a 2-6 conference record and are 8-11 overall. Unless the team can find a way to get back on track soon, USU will likely finish with its first losing record since 1993. Since beating UNLV at home three weeks ago, the Aggies have lost four straight.
Now, USU faces a team trending in the opposite direction. Fresno State was sitting at 2-3 in conference before winning its last three games. The Bulldogs will bring its momentum into the Spectrum Saturday night.
Head coach Tim Duryea believes his team can turn it around, and said he recently spoke with his players about maintaining consistency and aggressiveness through a full 40 minutes.
“Two halves like the first half at New Mexico and I think we can play with anybody, anywhere in the league,” he said, “but if we fall off that level a little bit we tend to have these times where we go three, four, five minutes without a basket.”
Duryea said it will take determination and not settling for average shots in order to get back on track.
“You’ve got to press the issue and continue to be aggressive in terms of knowing what you’re going to get offensively,” he said. “With us that is driving the ball to the lane.”
The other big issue facing the Aggies, according to Duryea, is being able to push the pace.
“I think that is something that Koby (McEwen) does really well,” he said. “He gives us a little more thrust on the break.”
Duryea said defensively, the Bulldogs put forth a lot of effort in 40 minutes of man defense. On the other side of the ball he said Fresno State is unselfish, know their roles and are very athletic. they are also very balanced; six guys are averaging double figures in conference play. Duryea said to expect a lot of ball screens and handoffs.
“Their role players, their front line guys, shoot a high percentage, which allows their guards a little more freedom to shoot it from three,” he said. “(Senior guard) Paul Watson is a much better shooter than what he has shot in conference play from three, but I think they have a good mix of inside and outside and they’re shooting the ball at a high percentage.”
A big question mark for Saturday night’s game is whether Fresno’s 6-9 senior forward Cullen Russo, who has missed the last three games, will play. Russo is averaging more than 11 points and five rebounds per game.
“I think it is up in the air for our game,” Duryea said. “It’s not an injury situation. I think it is clerical or eligibility related.”
The game will tipoff at 7 p.m.