The Utah State men’s basketball team has had a very interesting kick-off to the 2011-12 season.
After an impressive win over in-state rival BYU, the Aggies fell to Weber State on the road, and in the opening minutes of a 65-62 victory over SUU, senior Brady Jardine was lost for the year due to torn ligaments in his foot.
The team also announced the loss of freshman guard Steven Thornton, who is leaving the team to be closer to home.
Losing Jardine will hurt Utah State, but head coach Stew Morrill has recruited well and senior guard Brockeith Pane has shown his ability to lead this team on the court.
The Aggies are 4-4 on the season but are only looking forward as they now travel to Kansas to take on the Wichita State Shockers (6-2).
The Shockers head into the match-up on a four-game win streak, which includes an impressive win over No. 20 ranked UNLV, 89-70.
Wichita State is led by 6-foot-5 senior guard Toure’ Murry, who has been averaging 13.8 points per game this season. Not only does Murry lead the team in points but in assists as well, with 3.4 helpers per game.
Defending Murry will likely be a job for sophomore guard Preston Medlin. Medlin is coming off an impressive offensive game as an Aggie, pouring in a team-high 13 points and handing out a career-high six assists. Medlin also recorded one steal.
The key to a USU victory this season has been, and will be, Brockeith Pane. The 6-foot-1 senior is averaging 12.6 points per game to go along with 3.3 assists. Pane is also a very pesky defender, averaging 1.1 steals per game as well.
Pane is a very good basketball player who has the ability to make his teammates better, and with the loss of Jardine for the season, Pane will need to take on a greater burden of this team’s success.
The Shockers have shown they can knock off quality teams. For the Aggies to travel into Kansas and come away with a win, they will need to shoot well and convert open opportunities.
The Aggies will also need continued solid play from freshman center Jordon Stone and junior forward Kyisean Reed. Stone has shown an ability to rebound the basketball, and keeping Wichita State senior Garrett Stutz will be no easy task as the 7-footer is averaging 7.0 rebounds per game.
Morrill is going to need his players to bring their A-game for all 40 minutes in Wichita, and like his football counterpart Gary Andersen, Morrill accepts no moral victories.
Justin McKissick is a KSL.com contributor originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently seeking a communications degree. He has been covering USU sports since 2011. Follow him on Twitter: @justin_sr.