Surging Utah State ranked again Print
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Tuesday, 03 February 2009 13:34
NCAAB Headline News

 LOGAN, Utah (AP) -Utah State coach Stew Morrill had a blunt message for his players about their first appearance in the Top 25 in five years.
The No. 25 Aggies can slip back into obscurity much more quickly than it took to be ranked again.
``It's great. Feel good about it. Get over it. We've got work to do,'' Morrill said. ``They all understand that when you're in our situation, one loss pretty much knocks you out of the national rankings picture.''
The Aggies (21-1 overall, 9-0 Western Athletic Conference) are off to the best start in school history, topping the 2003-04 team that opened 20-1. That season was also the last time the Aggies were ranked, which ended 33-year absence from the AP poll.
Utah State, tucked in the mountains about 85 miles north of Salt Lake City, doesn't get a lot of attention. And after losing guard Jaycee Carroll, an AP honorable mention All-American, the Aggies weren't expected to be here, let alone in position for the best season in school history.
n even being ranked in the Top-25,'' forward Gary Wilkinson said. ``We've got to keep that moving forward as well. Winning 21 of your first 22 games is pretty sweet.''
Wilkinson is the only senior on the team. There are only three juniors on the roster and three of the starters are sophomores.
The Aggies are often overshadowed in the state by BYU and Utah, but they have had much more consistency than the Cougars or Utes over the last 10 years.
Utah State has already clinched its 10th straight 20-win season, reaching 21 before February. The school record of 28 and even reaching 30 wins are possibilities. Utah State has nine regular season games remaining, followed by the WAC tournament and, barring a major collapse, the NCAA tournament.
The Aggies have gone to the NIT the last two seasons and are hoping to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.
Morrill, who last season became the winningest coach in school history, said so far the Aggies have played just well enough to win, even during their most unlucky moments. Fresno State's Sylvester Seay hit a 75-foot shot at the buzzer to force overtime on Saturday, but the Aggies overcame the shock and won 83-77.
Utah State's only loss this season was to BYU, 68-63 on Dec. 6 in Salt Lake City.
Morrill said the Aggies have avoided looking ahead throughout the streak, which is the third-longest in school history. He wants that to continue through March, or the great start could become a disappointing finish.
``What I expect from every team is to bust their tail, get better and be coachable,'' Morrill said. ``The players say that I keep them grounded. That's good to know. That's my job.''
Wilkinson, who leads the Aggies in scoring and rebounding, said Morrill's ``get over it'' message was typical and expected. The Aggies haven't had a lot of blowouts during the winning streak and are averaging a modest 73 points per game.
``I expect that from us as a team,'' Wilkinson said. ``It's great, but what difference does it make if we lose the next 2-3 games or we don't win a WAC title?''
The Aggies host New Mexico State on Thursday and are at home again Saturday against Louisiana Tech. Utah State has won 29 straight at the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum, which will be packed with rowdy blue-and-white clad fans again this weekend. Although Aggie fans have had little to cheer about lately during football season, they make up for it during basketball.
Utah State leads the nation in field goal shooting at 50.7 percent and is holding opponents to about 60 points per game. The Aggies have been outrebounded in only five games this season and still been able to win each of them.
``I don't know how to explain it. It's weird. We just seem to always find a way to win,'' guard Tai Wesley said. ``We seem to always just come together.''
 

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