LOGAN – Utah State will play its one game against New Mexico on Wednesday, drawing the lucky straw to host the 19-3 Lobos at home and not have to travel to The Pit to face one of the conference’s best teams. The Aggies have not lost on its home court in conference play this season and have only lost twice to conference opponents in the Spectrum during head coach Ryan Odom’s tenure with the team.
Wednesday’s game will be the annual “Spectrum Magic” game for the Aggies with students given free shirts that match the colors of the iconic fall-colored seats.
How to watch
- Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. MT
- Location: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum | Logan, UT
- TV Broadcast: Mountain West Network
- Aggie GameDay Coverage on KVNU (102.1 FM/610 AM & KVNU mobile app): 7:30 p.m. MT
- KVNU Aggie Call (102.1 FM/610 AM, KVNU mobile app): Immediately after game ends
G – Rylan Jones (Undisclosed) – OUT
Jones has missed the last six games with an undisclosed upper-body injury. No timetable has been provided for a return.
G – Braden Appelhans (Thumb) – OUT
G – Emmanuel Kuac (Leg) – OUT
Utah State (17-5, 5-3)
- G – Steven Ashworth (6-1, Jr.) – 15.3 points | 3.3 rebounds | 4.7 assists
- G – Max Shulga (6-4, Jr.) – 11.4 points | 4.5 rebounds | 4.1 assists
- G/F – Sean Bairstow (6-8, Sr.) – 10.7 points | 4.5 rebounds | 2.3 assists
- F – Taylor Funk (6-9, Gr.) – 14.3 points | 5.5 rebounds | 2.0 assists
- C – Trevin Dorius (7-0, Sr.) – 5.4 points | 3.5 rebounds | 0.3 assists
- 6th Man – Dan Akin (6-9, Gr.) – 12.5 points | 7.5 rebounds | 0.6 assists
New Mexico (19-3, 6-3)
- G – Jaelen House (6-1, Sr.) – 17.4 points | 4.0 rebounds | 4.8 assists
- G – Jamal Mashburn (6-2, Jr.) – 19.5 points | 3.4 rebounds | 1.6 assists
- G – Javonte Johnson (6-6, Jr.) – 4.8 points | 3.8 rebounds | 1.0 assists
- F – Josiah Allick (6-8, Sr.) – 8.3 points | 8.3 rebounds | 1.6 assists
- C – Morris Udeze (6-8, Sr.) – 15.7 points | 8.5 rebounds | 1.5 assists
Team Statistical Ranks
Stats and ratings are from Basketball Reference (except the NET ranking). All ranks are out of 363 Division I teams.
- Pace – 69.5 (134th)
- Offensive Rating – 114.2 (11th)
- Defensive Rating – 101.4 (213th)
- Field Goal % – 48.6 (19th)
- 3-point % – 41.8 (1st)
- Rebounding % – 53.5 (48th)
- NET Rank – 34th
- Pace – 72.6 (33rd)
- Offensive Rating – 111.6 (34th)
- Defensive Rating – 96.1 (76th)
- Field Goal % – 49.1 (11th)
- 3-point % – 35.0 (141st)
- Rebounding % – 53.7 (40th)
- NET Rank – 30th
The Aggies are quickly reaching a point of no return if they want to be in consideration for a top spot in the standings come the end of the regular season. With losses to three of the top five of the Mountain West – San Diego State, Boise State, Nevada – a win over New Mexico would go a long way. It’ll be a tough matchup, though, as the Lobos are a borderline top 25 team, having found their way into the Ap Top 25 on three different occasions this season.
“We know what we’re up against,” Odom said. “And we’re going to have to play well to win. But I know our guys are excited about the opportunity.”
Not only would it give Utah State the only tiebreaker it can give itself (since the best USU can do against the others is split the season series) but it would prove the Aggies can actually compete against the conference’s best teams. After all, Utah State is 0-3 against teams in the top five of the Mountain West standings.
The Lobos will provide a stiff test in terms of star players. Three New Mexico players are currently averaging north of 15 points per game – Jamal Mashburn, Jaelen House and Morris Udeze. Thanks in large part to these top-level scorers the Lobos have a top-40 offensive rating, not too far off Utah State’s offensive rating.
Mashburn poses a unique challenge to the Aggies as a player who is quite adept at making pull-up mid-range jump shots. According to Synergy Sports, the junior guard has attempted the most dribble pull-up midrange shots in the country and is making them at a 45 percent clip, one of the best among players with similar volume in that particular shot. Odom had high praise for Mashburn’s pull-up jumper.
“Mashburn is the elite pull-up player in the country,” Odom said. “He’s got the best pull-up game around. It’s unique in our game nowadays. You still see it some in the NBA with specific players but college you don’t see it as often. You see guys going all the way to the basket. You see guys shooting threes. You see guys getting to the free-throw line and getting fouled. That’s where the focus is. But with him he’s most comfortable taking one or two dribbles right or left doesn’t matter and then pull it. And there’s not much you can do about it.”
Both Mashburn and House were on the team last year but one big addition is Udeze, the 6-foot-8 transfer from Wichita State that has been a major addition to a team previous driven completely by its guards.
“He’s really helped them in the post,” Odom said of Udeze “He’s helped them defensively. He’s helped them offensively around the rim. Gives them a go-to guy there and a physicality that’s been really beneficial.”
House, though the team’s second-leading scorer, is as much a defensive player as an offensive one. The senior guard is averaging nearly three steals per game.
“He’s got the freedom from the coaching staff to go for it and be who he is. Naturally he’s got the anticipation. He’s really dangerous whether he’s on the ball guarding you once you have the ball down, he’ll just take it from you,” Odom said. “He’s really dangerous as well off the ball where you’re driving and he comes in and steals.”
With its “big 3” of Mashburn, House and Udeze, the Lobos have a team that’s top 100 in both offensive and defensive rating so it’s no surprise that this team has only lost three games in 22 outings.