Take care of business at home if USU wants an NCAA Tourney Birth

LOGAN, UT – Sitting at 17-5 and fifth in the Mountain West Conference, the Aggies are in a good position to go on a run in their last nine games.

Picked to finish eighth in the Mountain West preseason poll, Utah State evened its 2021-22 win total with a 70-53 road win against Fresno State.

With a 6-3 conference record, the Aggies have solidified their spot in fifth place and appear to serve as something of a dividing line between the haves and have-nots in the Mountain West.

RELATED: Dan Akin leads Utah State to huge road win at Fresno State

USU is 0-3 with a margin of (-48) against conference leaders San Diego State, Boise State and Nevada. A home test against New Mexico is coming up on Wednesday night.

Against the six teams below them in the standings, Utah State is 6-0 with a (+65) point differential. Colorado State, the only team the Aggies have yet to play, hosts USU on Saturday, February 4 at 6:00 PM (MST)

After a busy first-half schedule in the Mountain West, especially on the road, the Aggies play four of their next six games at home. Of the top four teams in the Mountain West, only Boise State doesn’t come to Logan during that stretch. The Broncos are scheduled to square off at the Spectrum in the final game of the regular season on March 4.

RELATED: Road woes, late-game execution remain question marks for Utah State

Midway through the conference season, USU can still control its own destiny while having a shot at its 23rd NCAA tournament in March.

Not bad for a team picked to finish eighth.

The Lobo family is led by Richard Pitino, son of Hall of Famer Rick Pitino. In his second season with New Mexico, Pitino led New Mexico to 13 wins last season, a seven-win improvement over the previous year.

Two players with NBA bloodlines lead New Mexico’s offensive attack. Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaylon House have been a handful at linebacker all season. Mashburn leads the Mountain West with 19.5 points per game. House is third in the MW with an average of 17.4 points per game. Both players are shooting better than 45 percent from the floor while hovering around the 40 percent mark from three.

RELATED: Without Rylan Jones Healthy, Aggies Ceiling Remains Limited

When the shots aren’t falling, the Lobos depend on the rebounding talents of Morris Udeze and Josiah Allick. The top two rebounders in the MW, the pair combined for nearly 17 rebounds, including five offensive tackles, per game. Udese is the seventh leading scorer in the conference at 15.7 points per game.

Utah State’s coaches will have their work cut out for them as House leads the league with 2.9 steals per game. As a team, the Lobos create 13 turnovers and 6.1 steals per game.

Other than those mentioned above, the Lobos don’t have much depth. Only five starters are averaging 20 or more minutes per game. All but JavontΓ© Johnson are playing over 30 minutes a night. Off the bench, KJ Jenkins and Donovan Kent are averaging 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

For the Salt Lake Community College Bruin, Jay Allen-Tovar announced his intention to enter the transfer portal in November and has not been involved with the program since. Tovar led the Lobos in rebounding last season.

Next up

Utah State returns home for a big game against New Mexico on Wednesday, February 1st. New Mexico was the last remaining undefeated team this season. This will be the only regular season meeting between these teams. The Aggies then head back on the road to take on the Colorado State Rams on Saturday, February 4th. Tip-off for this match is scheduled for 4:00 PM (MST).

Every Utah State basketball game can be heard on KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard on the call.

Coverage of Utah State University athletics from KSL Sports can be found here.

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