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(AP file photo)LOGAN -- The Utah State Aggies claimed a share of their third straight Western Athletic Conference title Monday night at the Spectrum. Junior forward Tai Wesley scored 21 points to lead the Aggies to their 13th straight victory as they defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs 76-39.
The Aggies solid defense held the Bulldogs scoreless for the first ten minutes of the game and the Bulldogs never recovered. The Aggies, however, are not celebrating quite yet insisting instead that there is still business to take care of Saturday against the New Mexico State Aggies.
"Statistically it was a strange start to the game. They had a hard time scoring. I thought we were certainly a part of that," Aggie Head Coach Stew Morrill said. "We came out and guarded pretty well, and started the game awfully well. It just was a tough night for them. A lot of things went our way and a lot of things didn't go their way."
A lot of things definitely did not go the Bulldogs' way, especially in the first half. Sophomore guard Mike Ladd hit a jumper to score the Bulldogs' first points of the game at the 10:09 mark of the first half. Still the Bulldogs only managed 14 points in the first half. The second half was much more productive for the Bulldogs; however the Aggies held the Bulldogs to 22 percent shooting from the field and 10 percent from the 3-point arc.
"It's one of those things that happens sometimes. I was pleased with our guys that we were ready to play. For the most part we handled pretty much everything they threw our way," Morrill said.
The Aggies definitely came ready to play, hitting 55 percent of their shots from the field and 50 percent of their shots from the 3-point line. The Aggies thrived on unselfish play, dishing out 25 assists as a team, which is one of the many indicators of how the Aggies have changed since WAC play started.
"Our team has matured as we have gone along. We're really a different team than we were to start the WAC season," Wesley said.
Morrill agreed," They're mature; they listen to what you tell them. There is a lot of experience on our basketball team right now. They buy into what you tell them. It helps when you're winnings game, but this is a high character group that listens no matter what."
Even more impressive is that the Aggies said they won't dwell on their shared WAC regular season title.
"We haven't won anything yet. We feel like we haven't won the WAC yet. We didn't cut down the nets. We want to win the WAC out-right, and Saturday night is when we're going to do that," Wesley said.
Saturday night the Aggies will face the other Aggies of New Mexico State, which are currently in second place in the WAC, and face the Nevada Wolf Pack in Reno on Thursday. If New Mexico State loses on Thursday, the Aggies will have an out-right claim to the WAC Title. New Mexico State defeated Utah State early in the season in New Mexico, 55-52, and Morrill said that New Mexico State will be a difficult opponent.
"Guarding the 3-point line is a huge challenge. They're very talented at every position. They're going to pressure you the length of the court and cause some problems," Morrill said.
Saturday's game will be the last for senior Jared Quayle at the Spectrum. Quayle is the only Aggie senior.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be heard on 610 AM (KVNU) as well as 95.9 FM (KLZX).