Utah Point out men’s basketball poised to make run for third straight Mountain West Tournament championship

The Aggies enter as the No. 2 seed, just like the preceding two a long time.

Utah State forward Alphonso Anderson (10) shoots as Fresno State guard New Williams () defends all through the to start with 50 % of an NCAA university basketball sport Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Logan, Utah. (AP Picture/Eli Lucero)

The Utah Condition men’s basketball workforce has been right here ahead of.

Each and every of the very last two seasons, the Aggies have not gained the standard year championship in the Mountain West Meeting. Each of the final two seasons, they’ve entered the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed. Each and every of the final two seasons, they haven’t been thought of the favorites.

But just about every of the very last two seasons, the Aggies have proved anyone improper. They gained those conference championships and earned automatic bids to the NCAA Event. Previous time, it took a heroic shot from former guard Sam Merrill.

Now the Aggies will attempt to do a little something no USU crew has finished prior to: a MW Tournament 3-peat. They start their journey Thursday towards the College of Nevada-Las Vegas immediately after the Rebels beat Air Power on Wednesday. Utah State experienced a bye in the initial spherical.

“I know it is a cliche, but it truly is endure and advance,” USU coach Craig Smith told media Wednesday evening in a videoconference. “At this position, it’s a one-game year for virtually most people.”

The Aggies split the two-recreation sequence with UNLV in the course of the regular time, getting rid of the 1st and winning the next. The Rebels have the gain of actively playing in their dwelling arena, but there will be no fans in the course of the event owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

UNLV has previously performed its initially video game of the match. Smith said teams that really don’t have a bye in the initial round obviously have now triumph over some jitters and founded some basketball rhythm soon after acquiring received a match.

“You’re battling some of that type of things, also, in this quarterfinal game,” Smith reported.

No just one could engage in on the most significant school basketball stage last 12 months thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the match is scheduled to happen exclusively in Indiana, with most of it in Indianapolis.

But the Aggies have to get through the meeting match initial. Ideal now, Utah Condition is sitting on the bubble for an at-substantial to the Huge Dance in the First 4 Out tier, per ESPN’s most current projections. Successful the meeting event would reduce the worry that will come with wating to hear USU’s name referred to as on Selection Sunday.

And USU may have lucked out with the bracket. Boise Point out and San Diego Point out are on the reverse facet of it as opposed to the Aggies. So Utah State will not have to perform two of the conference’s strongest teams right up until the championship match, if it helps make it there.

On the other hand, USU had no problems in the last two a long time beating San Diego Point out in the remaining game of the event.

Smith stated he feels this year’s event is extensive open, and even much more so this yr as opposed to modern years.

“I believe there’s quite a couple of groups that can win this point,” Smith claimed.

The Aggies do have a single detail going for them. Considering that Smith came to Logan to mentor the Aggies, the team is 10-1 in the thirty day period of March. That record involves a 6- mark in the MW match.

Utah State will also enter the tournament fully nutritious. Smith reported freshman level guard Rollie Worster will perform and he expects junior guard Brock Miller to play as perfectly. Equally have been in an out of the lineup with accidents over the past various months.

Senior forward Alphonso Anderson, who was named the conference’s Sixth Person of the 12 months, claimed obtaining the workforce healthful as it begins the event is important. But, he included, the circumstance with the coronavirus may well have truly aided the Aggies change to unexpected roster changes. So regardless of whether it was an harm or a quarantine, the team was completely ready.

“I imagine our staff did a superior task managing those scenarios [injuries],” Anderson mentioned. “I truly feel like COVID type of helped us with that. You by no means understood if another person was going to pop positive or a thing like that. We usually experienced to be prepared, perform distinctive positions and all varieties of items like that.”