(Photo courtesy BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey) PROVO -- On the heels of an exciting in-state rivalry game between the BYU and Utah football teams, the Cougar basketball team prepares itself for another intense rivalry.
Although Utah is BYU's main rival, the basketball games between Utah State and BYU usually bring out many of the same feelings between players and fans.
BYU guard Michael Loyd, who could be spotted at many of the fall camp football practices at BYU, said he was one of the first people to storm the field when BYU defeated Utah Saturday.
Loyd, a redshirt sophomore from Las Vegas and a huge football fan, said there seems to be a little more at stake when the opponent is from the same state and expects the game against Utah State to provide a rivalry-type atmosphere.
"I love (in-state games). If you win, that's bragging rights for the whole year," Loyd said. "I've always been told that the game at that point in time is the most important of the season. But (games like this) might add a little extra."
The Cougars may need an elevated performance out of Loyd, as starting shooting guard Jackson Emery suffered a foot injury and is said to be a game-time decision.
Loyd will most likely be his replacement should Emery not be able to play. Loyd has produced a quality start to the season, shooting 71 percent from the field, and 70 percent from 3-point range.
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose said that although he expects a good game, he isn't ready to call Utah State a rival just yet.
It's a really big game for us - until the next game we play. It's really important, but I think everyone here at BYU knows who our rival is.
–BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
"It's a really big game for us - until the next game we play," Rose said. "It's really important, but I think everyone here at BYU knows who our rival is."
Rivals or not, the Cougars are faced with a tough test Wednesday, as the Aggies boast a 36-game home winning streak and have won 51 of their last 52 home games. Loyd and Rose both noted that the Spectrum should be a tough place to play.
Emery and Chris Miles are the only current BYU players who have participated in a contest against Utah State in the Aggies' home arena, and Rose has worked to prepare his team for what type of atmosphere it should expect.
"They've got a great crowd and they love their team," Rose said. "Right now they've got a little streak going, so it should be a good test for us."
The Aggies lost their main post-presence from last year in Gary Wilkinson, who torched the Cougars in the EnergySolutions Arena with 22 points and nine rebounds. The Aggies are led this year by forward Tai Wesley, who scored 12 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists against the Cougars last season.
Wesley is averaging 13 points, just under six rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Tipoff is tonight at the Spectrum at 7:00 p.m. and will be televised locally on CW30.
The game will be broadcast on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM and online at KSL.com. Pregame begins at 6:00 p.m.