BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. -- The Utah State Aggies (4-3) take on the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (1-6) Wednesday in desperate search of a road win.
The Aggies have been on the losing end of two close road games this season, losing to Utah, 68-67 and to Northwestern, 64-61.
"We haven't played badly on the road," said Aggie Head Coach Stew Morrill," We've just had some bad stretches in some games."
I know that any road game is not easy. We need to be ready to go. We've lost our last few on the road. We got to be focused and do what it takes to win.
–Aggie Tyler Newbold
The Aggie bench will be a big key to this road trip as Utah State is 4-0 on the season when its bench out-scores its opponent's bench and 1-3 when its bench is out-scored. Unfortunately for the Aggies, they will be without true freshman guard Preston Medlin at least against the Roadrunners.
Medlin went down against Utah Valley University Saturday after making a driving lay-up. Medlin has a sprained ankle and Coach Morrill is not sure when Medlin will play again.
"The old term ‘doubtful' would be the prognosis for the Bakersfield game," said Morrill on Monday. "So we're hoping that he might be back for Long Beach, but he will not practice [Monday] and will probably not practice or play against Bakersfield."
Medlin proved to be a non-factor in the Aggies first four games of the season going just 0-4 from the field, but he has provided instant offense for Utah State off the bench as of late. Medlin is averaging 8.8 points and is shooting 61.1 from the field (11-18) and 66.7 percent from three-point range (8-12).
With Medlin out the Aggies' rotation will shift, and junior Guard Brian Green will most likely be Coach Morrill's first option and true freshman forward Tyrone White may be called upon to play as well. "He (Green) will be our first sub at the wing, so that very possibly means Jaxon (Myaer) will be our first sub at the point. It depends on how Brian is playing and how Jaxon is playing. We want to keep working Brian at both positions. We're not going to quit doing that just because Preston is out. We'll keep playing him both spots," said Morrill. "It makes Tyrone (White) your fourth wing, so there is a possibility he will play."
The Aggies finished a five-game home stand Saturday defeating the Utah Valley University Wolverines, 87-56. After Coach Morrill said the team had been struggling to score the Aggies went ahead and shot 59.6 percent from the field, and 61.9 (13-21) percent from the 3-point line. The Aggies 13 3's were the second most in a game in school history.
Aggie junior forward Pooh Williams led the team with 15 points and junior guard Tyler Newbold got a boost of confidence as he scored 11 points on the night. The Aggie defense held senior center Justin Baker and senior guard Jordan Swarbrick, who had led the team in scoring, to six points each on the night.
Cal State lost a heartbreaker Wednesday to San Jose State in overtime, 84-80.
‘Runners senior forward Trent Blakely led CSUB with 21 points with all of those coming in the second half. CSUB enjoyed its best shooting of the season in the second half hitting nearly 50 percent of their shots from the floor, but San Jose State junior guard Adrian Oliver hit 30 points on the night including four in the extra period to seal the victory for the Spartans. The Aggies are 4-0 all-time against the Roadrunners and the Aggies have defeated the Roadrunners by a margin of nearly 20 points each game.
The teams met last February in Logan and the Roadrunners gave the 23rd ranked Aggies all they could handle. ‘Runners junior forward Santwon Latunde gave Cal State Bakersfield a 26-25 lead with 6:19 remaining in the first half, but a Newbold tip-in put USU back on top and Aggie junior guard Stavon Williams hit three straight 3's and another bucket to put the Aggies up 41-26 at half. Cal State Bakersfield closed the gap to 11 to begin the second half but would not get any closer. The Aggie bench outscored the Cal State Bakersfield bench 35-13.
The last time the two teams met in Bakersfield, Aggie Senior Jaycee Carroll dropped 27 points and junior forward Gary Wilkinson chipped in 21 points to lead the Aggies over the Runners, 88-66. Cal State Bakersfield lead early in the first half, but the Aggies made a short run to lead 47-40 at the end of the first half.
Both teams shot extremely well from the field in the first half and the Aggies continued to shoot well in the second half, but the Roadrunners couldn't match their first half performance. The Roadrunners cut the lead to nine late in the second half, but Utah State used an 11-3 run to push their lead to 73-56 with six minutes to play. The Aggie defense held the Roadrunners to 36.4 percent shooting on the night.
Even though the Aggies are undefeated against the Roadrunners, they know they need to be ready for any road game.
"We got to be ready to play," Newbold said. "I don't know much about the two teams we are playing, but I know that any road game is not easy. We need to be ready to go. We've lost our last few on the road. We got to be focused and do what it takes to win."
Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, California.