LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday night when the Aggies host the Boise State Broncos at 8 p.m. Four conference championship teams will be recognized, including the 1979-80, 1994-95, 1999-2000 and 2009-10 squads, as well as individual spotlights of Wayne Estes and Ladell Andersen.
Saturday, Feb. 8, will mark exactly 55 years to the day that Estes became the first Aggie in program history to surpass 2,000 career points. Estes scored 48 points against the University of Denver that night in what would be the final collegiate basketball game of his career. After the game, Estes and some friends stopped at the scene of a car accident near campus. While crossing the street, Estes brushed against a downed high power line and was tragically electrocuted.
Estes will be remembered during a short ceremony, approximately 10 minutes before the opening tip.
Andersen was the head coach of the Aggies from 1962-71, guiding Utah State to an overall mark of 173-96, three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1962-64, an NIT appearance in 1967, and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1970 and 1971. Andersen finished his career as the third-winningest coach in school history and mentored five All-Americans during his tenure in Estes, Cornell Green, Shaler Halimon, Marvin Roberts and Nate Williams.
A former walk-on, Andersen lettered as an Aggie basketball player from 1949-52 and also served as the school’s athletics director from 1973-82. He was a two-time all-Skyline Conference pick as a guard. Andersen recently passed away at the end of December and will be remembered just before the opening tip.
The four championship teams returning to the Spectrum will be recognized during halftime of the game.
The 1979-80 team went 19-8 overall, including an 11-2 mark in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association to earn the Aggies’ first-ever regular-season championship. Head coach Rod Tueller was named the PCAA Coach of the Year in his rookie season as the Aggies made their third-straight postseason appearance, losing the opening round of the NCAA Tournament to Clemson. Dean Hunger was named the PCAA Player of the Year after leading the Aggies in points (20.8 ppg) and rebounds (8.6 rpg), along with earning all-PCAA honors alongside teammates Brian Jackson and Rich McElrath. McElrath’s averages of 6.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game still rank as the third-most and second-most in program history.
The 1994-95 squad finished 21-8 overall, and a 14-4 ledger in the Big West Conference, capturing the regular-season title. Head coach Larry Eustachy, only in his second year, was named the Big West Coach of the Year. Senior captain Eric Franson was named the Big West Player of the Year after averaging 18.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, leading the team in both statistics. Corwin Woodward and Roddie Anderson also earned postseason honors as they were both named to the all-Big West second team. The Aggies finished the year with a berth in the NIT, losing to Illinois State in the opening round.
The 1999-2000 team finished the year with a then-program record 28 victories. The Aggies finished the year with a 19-game winning streak, maintaining a perfect ledger in the Big West and capturing both the regular season and Big West tournament titles. Troy Rolle and Shawn Daniels were each honored with first-team all-Big West honors, while Bernard Rock and Tony Brown were recognized with honorable mention honors. Head coach Stew Morrill was named the Big West Coach of the Year, the first of five such honors for Morrill during his tenure at Utah State. Utah State wrapped up the year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, losing to UConn.
The 2009-10 team finished the year 27-8, including a 14-2 mark in the Western Athletic Conference en route to earning the team’s third-straight conference title. Morrill was named the WAC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, guiding Jared Quayle and Tai Wesley to first-team all-WAC honors. Nate Bendall and Brian Green were named to the all-newcomer team, while Pooh Williams was named to the all-defensive team. Wesley finished the year 12th in the country in field goal percentage (.574), while the Aggies led the nation with a 1.63 assist-to-turnover ratio. Utah State was the only team that year to rank in the Top-10 in 3-point field goal percentage (.414), field goal percentage (.488) and free throw percentage (.758). The team punctuated the year with a 69-53 loss to Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
In addition to honoring the past, the current Aggies will be wearing throwback uniforms emblazoned with “State” in homage to uniforms worn by Utah State in the 60s and 70s.
Tip-off against Boise State on Saturday is scheduled for 8 p.m. With the game already sold old, fans can still watch the game on the CBS Sports Network (Comcast Ch. 269, DirecTV Ch. 221, Dish Ch. 158).