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The only instate team to beat Utah State head coach Stew Morrill at the Spectrum visits Logan on Friday night as the BYU Cougars travel to face the Aggies in the season opener for both teams.
Morrill has amassed a 25-1 home record against instate programs, with his only setback coming almost 12 years ago, when a BYU team led by Terrell Lyday's 35 points went into the Spectrum and came away with an 82-73 win, on January 8th, 2000. Current BYU head coach Dave Rose watched from the bench that night, as an assistant to then-Cougar sideline boss Steve Cleveland.
"Yeah, I do remember that game," said Rose this week. "We had a good player that had a good night, so hopefully we can do that again."
The Aggies under Morrill haven't allowed too many good nights to opponents in the coach's previous 13 seasons at Utah State, just as the Marriott Center has been equally unforgiving for Rose's foes. The Ags have won 94% of Morrill's home games (193-13), while BYU under Rose has own 95% of its home contests (89-5).
Utah State's current streak of 31 consecutive home victories is the third longest active streak nationally, and against in-state competition, the Aggies have won 23 in a row. USU's home record in its last 69 games is 68-1, and in home openers, Morrill is undefeated, with the program having won 17 straight home openers overall.
The Aggies' homecourt stats are impressive, but Rose knows his guys will not be battling the record books when they take the floor on Friday night.
"I think that you always prepare for the team, and the players and the coaches," says Rose. "Then you just have to experience the arena, and we've got some guys who have played in there, but for us, we need to go in an execute and like any road game, try to get yourself in a position to control the score."
"You get ahead, you can play from ahead, it gets a lot easier. It takes a lot of energy, if you get behind, to try and make a run. It's important to try and control the tempo of the game, control the pressure and to consistently score points throughout the game and don't let (the Aggies) get on runs."
Rose takes with him to Logan a BYU team returning a solid core of veterans, while Utah State returns only four lettermen from last year's team, the lowest number since the 1999-2000 season--the season in which BYU recorded that landmark win at the Spectrum.
BYU's head man is counting on returners and starters Brock Zylstra, Stephen Rogers, Charles Abouo, Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies to solidify a squad having lost its leading scorers in Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery.
"This will be a much different season, as far as the make- up of our team," Rose notes. "I think we had four or five guys who played really well in these exhibition games, and hopefully we can find a few more guys that continue to play well and get our rotations down, and figure out exactly how this team's going to go."
About the Aggies, who will start four players with significant experience, Rose says "their personnel is different, but what they do and how they do it is very similar to what we've seen."
"Stew's been so successful, there's not a lot of reason to change, and one thing about Coach Morrill over the years is, he has proven his system is extremely successful and if you get guys to buy into that system and play in that system, you're going to win a lot of games."
KSL Newsradio's coverage of BYU at Utah State begins with "Cougar Pregame Live" at 6:00pm Friday night, with the game tipping just after 7:00. Hear the game on KSL and BYU Radio (SiriusXM Channel 143), with Mark Durrant (@DurrantMark on Twitter) joining me courtside for the call.