Utah State went undefeated at home again this year, yet it's hard to believe they have their first 30-win season. Their best performance this year was by far the WAC Championship game, and it will take that kind of focus and defensive effort to stay in the game with Marquette.
Most of Utah State's first five wins were while Jaxon Myaer and Deremy Geiger were platooning at the point guard position. Next for the Aggies was the rivalry game with BYU. Utah State's frontcourt bigs turned the ball over when the Cougars threw double teams at the Aggies. Additionally, freshman point guard Myaer turned the ball over five times in only 25 minutes of crucial play.
Since then, Utah State coach Stew Morrill has started 6'1" JC transfer Jared Quayle. His presence on the floor has inspired cool, calm, and tough play. Not a whole lot will rattle this team. The main players logging the crunch time minutes are 20-26 years old.
Utah State cannot turn the ball over if they expect to win Friday in Boise. Right now they average 11 turnovers a game.
Marquette knows that they will have to use their athleticism and possibly press the Aggies to win. If Utah State can keep it a half-court game and execute their offense, the Aggies should keep the Golden Eagles from having a big game. Look for a game in the 60s for Utah State to be successful.
PG Jared Quayle
Probably the best unknown player in the tournament. With Gary Wilkinson the WAC player of the year, he draws a lot of attention. This leaves Quayle unblocked off the boards. He can get a double-double without getting 10 assists. He could easily cause the most problems for the Golden Eagles. If he scores early and often, his confidence will increase, and so will the rest of the team’s confidence.
F Gary Wilkinson
He is the team MVP. He has the size, moves, and senior maturity needed to make a run this year in the tournament. He can hit the open three if they don't guard him, and if the officials let them play physical, Marquette's big men could finish the game on the bench. If he starts shooting soft fadeaway shots, this could lead to a long day and many fast break points for the Golden Eagles.
F Tai Wesley
If Marquette really wants to press Utah State the whole game and force turnovers, they better have someone who is big enough to guard Wesley the full length of the court. He is the team’s best post player, passer, and big that can break the press. Very few players have a higher basketball IQ. When he is on his game, he will draw a crowd and create open shots for his teammates.
He has a temper at times, and if a call doesn't go his way, he could get two to three quick personal fouls and spend the rest of the half or game on the bench. Wesley needs to stay out of foul trouble, stay in the game, and help Utah State get a win.
G Pooh Williams
A pleasant surprise the last few games of the year. Pooh will be the defensive stopper; he'll give space for someone to shoot and won't let penetration happen. Morrill uses Pooh on the other team's best scorer/ball handler, i.e. with Nevada he was the stopper on Armon Johnson.
Obviously Marquette's guards are much better than WAC guards; Williams' defense will be the key to success Friday. If Marquette doesn't pay attention, he can go off for 10-15 quick points.
This year his offence has been inconsistent. He needs to make the other teams pay for neglecting him.
G Tyler Newbold
He is the glue to this team keeping their heads in the game. He isn't too quick, but he plays every aspect of the game solid with low turnovers and solid man/zone defense. If you leave him open for three or he finds a solid screen, he is a 60 percent three-point shooter. He may even block a couple of jump shots or stop a tip-in.
Newbold was in a rut the end of February and appears to be back to normal again. He is by far the hardest worker on the floor.
He won't beat anyone off the dribble, but if his man doesn't stay on him and doubles Wilkinson, he'll knock down the open shot.
G Stavon Williams
The most streaky and dangerous scorer off the bench. If Quayle and Wesley start getting deflections and steals, look for Stavon to start a 10-15 point run that could keep them in the game.
If he’s not on, he is just on the floor chewing up minutes, giving rest to Newbold and Pooh Williams.
F Matt Formisano
An inconsistent sleeper, he is needed when Wesley and Wilkinson need rest. He plays solid post defense and rebounds well—the mark of every Stew Morrill team and big man.
PG Jaxon Myaer
A redshirt freshman who needs many more minutes of playing time to ever be effective in the tournament. He’ll probably play five to 10 minutes and can hit a deep three or two while he is in the game. If they press him, expect to see a turnover every other possession while he is out there. His size is his weakness at 5'10".
If he can give Quayle 10 minutes of rest in the tournament without turning the ball over, his minutes will be huge for the Aggies.
F Brady Jardine
Don't look for him too log many minutes unless the size advantage Utah State has started to pay off. He may play more minutes if Wesley or Wilkinson gets in foul trouble or if Marquette starts penetrating and scoring. Jardine has been brought in and at times blocked three or four shots in five minutes of play. He can be an offensive liability.
Matchup vs. Marquette
After reviewing Marquette’s roster and reviewing the last 10 games, it’s very apparent they are really a three seed. Expect them to penetrate on Utah State to score quickly and often. Then Stew Morrill will mix up the defense with a zone and three-quarters court press to slow Marquette down.
This is when we will see the matchups everyone is looking for and whether Utah State can even get into their offense and start to dominate in the paint.
Don’t expect to see Wilkinson and Wesley to dominate one on one. Usually they get their looks off post entry passes getting to the open spot and shooting uncontested lay-ups. Their off ball screens will drive Buzz Williams crazy.
Stay tuned for a second round matchup should No. 11 Utah State make it past No. 6 Marquette.