USU men’s basketball receiving votes in AP poll

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball is receiving votes in the latest poll released by The Associated Press on Monday, Feb. 17. The Aggies gleaned eight votes to rank No. 36 in the country.

USU opened the year ranked No.17 in the AP poll and No. 19 in the coaches poll before climbing as high as No. 15 in both polls at the end of November. The Aggies were last ranked at the beginning of January before falling out of the polls after a three-game losing streak to open 2020.

Currently, Utah State has won each of its last four games and seven of its last eight games to move into second place in the Mountain West standings. Overall, the Aggies are 21-7 on the year, marking the second-consecutive 20-win season for the squad and the first back-to-back 20-win seasons since the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns.

USU is one of the top teams in the nation on the glass and sharing the ball, as the Aggies are third in the nation in total rebounds (1,131), fourth in the nation in total assists (459), fifth in the nation in rebound margin (+8.6) and sixth in the nation in defensive rebounds per game (29.43). Utah State is also one of the best at the charity stripe, making 457 total free throws this season to rank fifth in the land.

The Aggies are also in the Top-25 in the nation in six other statistics, including 13th in both assist-to-turnover ratio (1.36) and total rebounds per game (40.39), 14th in both assists per game (16.4) and scoring margin (+12.5), 15th in free-throw percentage (.773) and 21st in free-throw attempts (591).

Individually, senior guard Sam Merrill is 14th in the nation in free throw percentage (.893), 21st in free throws made (125) and 23rd in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.54). Merrill is just outside the Top-25 in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc to rank No. 27. Merrill became just the fourth player in Utah State history and just the sixth player in MW history to surpass 2,000 career points last week, increasing his career total to 2,052. The total is the fifth-most in MW history and just nine points shy of fourth place, held by Wyoming’s Justin James (2013-16) with 2,061 career points.

Sophomore forward Justin Bean’s name is peppered among the leaders in rebounding as he is 10th in the nation with 286 total rebounds, 13th with 13 double-doubles this season, 18th in offensive rebounds per game (3.64) and 23rd in total rebounds per game (10.2).

Utah State returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 19, hosting Wyoming at 7 p.m. Fans can watch the game on ESPN3, streaming online at www.espn.com/watch.

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