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#11 Utah State (30-4) vs. #6 Marquette (24-9) Friday, Mar. 20, 2009 • 10:30 a.m. (MT) • Boise, Idaho Taco Bell Arena (12,380) • Aggie Radio Network • CBS Sports
GAME DAY HEADLINES• Utah State is in its 104th season of basketball this year and has an overall record of 1,400-993 (.585). USU hasn't had a losing season since the 1992-93 campaign, a span of 16 years, when that team finished with a 10-17 record.
• Utah State is ranked 25th in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll with 40 votes and 32nd in the latest AP poll with 28 votes. USU was ranked in the top-25 for three straight weeks during the month of February and climbed as high as 17th in the coaches poll. Prior to this season, USU was last ranked during the 2003-04 campaign.
• Utah State (30-4) has the second-most wins in the country behind Memphis (31-3) and is one of just five teams in the nation with four or fewer losses joining Connecticut (27-4), Memphis, North Carolina (28-4), and Pittsburgh (28-4).
• Utah State, Gonzaga (26-5) and Kansas (25-7) are the only teams in the nation to win at least 23 games in each of the last 10 years. USU has now recorded 10 straight 20-win seasons, extending its current school record. Overall, it is the 25th time in school history that Utah State has won 20 or more games and its 30 wins this year is a school record.
• Utah State is making its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history (1939, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1988, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009), which is the most by any member of the Western Athletic Conference. Under Coach Morrill, USU is appearing in its sixth NCAA Tournament in the last 10 years, and its first in three seasons. Those six NCAA appearances by Morrill are the most by any coach in USU history.
• Utah State is playing in its 10th straight postseason, which is a school record, and tied for the 15th-longest active streak in the nation. During the last 10 years, USU has appeared in the NCAA Tournament six times (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009) and the NIT four times (2002, 2004, 2007, 2008).
• Utah State is 6-19 (.240) all-time in the NCAA Tournament, which includes a 4-13 (.235) record in the first round. USU has lost five straight games in the NCAA Tournament and its last win was in the first round of the 2001 tournament when it defeated fifth-seeded Ohio State, 77-68, in overtime. In its last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006, USU lost to fifth-seeded Washington, 75-61, in the first round.
• Utah State is making its 27th postseason appearance all-time, having qualified for the NCAA Tournament 18 times and the NIT on nine occasions. Utah State's overall postseason record is 8-28 (.222).
UP NEXTUtah State (30-4, 14-2) is the No. 11 seed in the West Region in Boise, Idaho and will face No. 6 Marquette (24-9, 12-6) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Mar. 20 at 10:30 a.m., at Taco Bell Arena. The Aggies are ranked 25th in the nation in the latest USA Today/Coaches Poll, while the Golden Eagles are ranked 24th. The game will be televised nationally on CBS with Craig Bolerjack (play-by-play) and Bob Wenzel (color) calling the action.
ON THE AIRUtah State basketball games are broadcast on KVNU (610 AM) and KLZX (95.9 FM) in Logan, Utah, KFAN (1320 AM) or ESPN Radio (1230 AM) in Salt Lake City and KLZX (105.3 FM) in Montpelier, Idaho, as well as on the internet at www.UtahStateAggies.com. Al Lewis serves as the play-by-play announcer while Rod Tueller serves as the analyst during home games.
NCAA TOURNAMENT PRACTICE AND PRESS CONFERENCE TIMES ON THURSDAYUtah State's press conference at the NCAA Tournament in Boise, Idaho will be on Thursday from 11:20 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and its practice will be from 12:00 to 12:40 p.m. Marquette's press conference will be from 12:50 to 1:30 p.m., and its practice will be from 1:30 to 2:10 p.m. All times listed are Mountain time.
LOOKING AT UTAH STATEUtah State is 30-4 on the season after defeating Fresno State (85-68), New Mexico State (71-70), and Nevada (72-62) to win the Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. USU also won the league's regular season title with a 14-2 record. Utah State is led by senior forward Gary Wilkinson who is averaging 17.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, and is shooting 58.6 percent from the field and 83.0 percent from the free throw line, while junior guard Jared Quayle is averaging 12.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and is shooting 46.2 percent from the field, 38.2 percent from three-point range, and 76.4 percent from the free throw line. Sophomore forward Tai Wesley is also scoring in double-figures for USU as he is averaging 11.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, and is shooting 59.0 percent from the field and 68.2 percent from the free throw line. As a team, Utah State is scoring 72.9 points per game and shooting 49.8 percent from the field, 39.8 percent from three-point range, and 73.9 percent from the free throw line. Defensively, USU is allowing 62.1 points and its opponents are shooting 42.0 percent from the field, 36.7 percent from three-point range, and 73.8 percent from the free throw line.
UTAH STATE WINS SEVENTH POSTSEASON TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP IN SCHOOL HISTORYUtah State won its seventh postseason tournament championship, and first WAC tournament championship this past weekend. It is also the fifth time under Coach Morrill that USU has won a tournament title (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009) as the other four were when the Aggies were a member of the Big West Conference.
UTAH STATE WINS SECOND-STRAIGHT REGULAR SEASON WAC TITLE, NINTH OVERALLUtah State won its second-straight Western Athletic Conference regular season championship this year, and its first outright WAC title since joining the league four years ago. USU also snapped Nevada's run of five straight WAC regular season championships. Overall, it is the ninth time in school history that USU has won at least a share of a regular season conference championship (1980, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009), and it is USU's second outright regular season league title under Morrill joining the 1999-2000 team that went 16-0 in the Big West Conference. It is also just the second time in school history that Utah State has won back-to-back regular season league championships joining the 1997 and 1998 teams.
AGGIES LEADING THE NATION IN SHOOTING AND ARE SECOND IN WINNING PERCENTAGEAs of Mar. 15, Utah State leads the nation in field goal shooting (.498), and is second in winning percentage (.882). USU also ranks fifth in assist-to- turnover ratio (1.45), and 10th in turnovers per game (11.3). Individually, sophomore guard Tyler Newbold ranks first in the nation in assist-to- turnover ratio (4.07), and senior forward Gary Wilkinson ranks 24th in field goal shooting (.586).
RANKING UTAH STATE IN THE WACAs of Mar. 15, Utah State ranks first in the WAC in scoring margin (+10.8), field goal shooting (.498), scoring defense (62.1), rebound margin (+7.0), and assists (16.32). USU also ranks second in scoring (72.9), field goal shooting defense (.420), free throw shooting (.739), and three-point field goal shooting (.398). Individually, senior forward Gary Wilkinson ranks second in the WAC in scoring (17.1) and free throw shooting (.830), third in field goal shooting (.586), and sixth in rebounding (6.9), while sophomore forward Tai Wesley ranks second in the WAC in field goal shooting (.590) and 11th in rebounding (6.1). Junior guard Jared Quayle ranks third in the WAC in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.05), sixth in steals (1.44), sixth in assists (3.74), seventh in free throw shooting (.764), 12th in scoring (12.9), and 12th in rebounding (5.9). Sophomore guard Tyler Newbold ranks first in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.07) and ninth in assists (3.24), and junior guard Stavon Williams ranks fourth in three-point shooting (.438).
COMPUTER RANKINGSAs of Mar. 15, Utah State has an RPI of 24 and a strength of schedule of 135, while the WAC is currently ranked 11th out of 32 conferences. USU also has a sagarin rating of 41.
SCOUTING MARQUETTEMarquette is 24-9 on the season and finished in fifth-place in the Big East Conference with a 12-6 league record. The Golden Eagles, who have lost five of its last six games, fell to Villanova, 76-75, in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament in its last game. Marquette is 8-7 away from home this season and is playing in its fourth straight NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles are led by senior guard Jerel McNeal who is averaging 19.7 points and 4.0 assists per game, while fellow senior guard Wesley Matthews is averaging 18.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. Junior forward Lazar Hayward also scores in double-figures for MU and is averaging 16.1 points and 8.6 boards per game. As a team, Marquette scores 78.8 points per game and shoots 45.6 percent from the field, 34.9 percent from three- point range, and 72.0 percent from the free throw line. Defensively, the Golden Eagles are allowing 69.5 points per game and its opponents are shooting 44.9 percent from the field, 35.0 percent from three-point range, and 67.1 percent from the free throw line. Marquette returns four starters from last year's team that went 25-10 on the season and 11-7 in the Big East Conference. The Golden Eagles concluded its season with an 82-81 overtime loss to Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Buzz Williams is in his first season as Marquette's head coach.
UTAH STATE VERSUS MARQUETTE SERIES HISTORYUtah State and Marquette will be meeting for the first time ever this weekend in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. USU head coach Stew Morrill will also be facing Marquette for the first time ever in his 23 years as a collegiate head coach.
Stew Morrill AND MARQUETTE CONNECTIONSMarquette head coach Buzz Williams and assistant Dale Layer both spent time as assistant coaches at Colorado State following Stew Morrill's seven- year stint as CSU's head coach.
UTAH STATE AND FLORIDA STATE CONNECTIONSFlorida State Athletics Director Randy Spetman spent four years (2004- 2007) as the Director of Athletics at Utah State University.
UTAH STATE VERSUS THE BIG EAST CONFERENCEUtah State is 6-9 (.400) all-time against current members of the Big East Conference as it has a 1-0 record against DePaul, South Florida and Villanova, a 1-1 record against Pittsburgh, a 1-2 record against Providence and Rutgers, an 0-1 record against Connecticut and Seton Hall, and an 0-2 record against Notre Dame. The last time Utah State played a team from the Big East Conference was on Mar. 17, 2000 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, as it lost to the defending national champion Connecticut Huskies, 75-67. The game against UCONN is also the only time USU has played a Big East team in the NCAA Tournament. USU's last win against a Big East team was when it defeated Rutgers, 78-70, on Jan. 13, 1992 in Logan.
VERSUS THE NCAA TOURNAMENT FIELDUtah State is 1-1 versus teams in the 2009 NCAA Tournament as it defeated Utah, 66-64, at home and lost to Brigham Young, 68-63, at a neutral site in Salt Lake City.
THE WAC VERSUS THE BIG EAST CONFERENCECurrent members of the Western Athletic Conference are a combined 32- 67 (.323) against current members of the Big East Conference. WAC teams are also a combined 3-8 (.273) against teams from the Big East Conference in the NCAA Tournament and the last time a WAC member defeated a team from the Big East in the NCAA Tournament was in 2002 when 12th-seeded Tulsa upset fifth-seeded Marquette, 71-69. It is also the second straight year the WAC Tournament champion has played a team from the Big East Conference as 14th-seeded Boise State lost to third-seeded Louisville, 79- 61, in the first round last year.
COACH MORRILL IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENTUtah State head coach Stew Morrill is 1-6 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, which includes an 0-1 record while the head coach at Montana in 1991 and a 1-5 record at USU.
THE WAC IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENTThe Western Athletic Conference has had a team advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament 10 times in the last 12 years. The WAC has also had at least two teams participate in the NCAA Tournament 19 times in the last 23 years. Overall, WAC teams are a combined 35-67 (.343) in the NCAA Tournament.