LOGAN, Utah — Utah State (13-9, 4-5) continues a busy stretch – playing their third game in six days – by hosting San Jose State (7-13, 0-8). This game was originally scheduled for New Year’s Day but due to COVID-19 issues in the Spartans’ program, the game was postponed until now.
“I like their team. You watch them on film, in the non-conference they’ve had some really nice wins against some quality opponents. The Mountain West has been a little bit unforgiving so far,” head coach Ryan Odom said.
The Spartans have struggled lately. They are on an eight-game losing streak and have been outscored by 16 or more in their last two games. Despite the mismatch on paper, Odom and his team are taking the challenge seriously.
“They’re playing better than their results are showing right now,” Odom said. “I told the team today in film, ‘what’s our record in conference? We’re four and five.’ We have a losing record in conference and this is another opportunity to change that.”
Odom preaches a consistent, focused mentality for his team. To them, it does not matter who they are playing, they are going to have the same attitude.
“If you take the mentality that this team is in your way, it doesn’t really matter what the results have been for them… Success is never final,” Odom said. “Our execution and preparation, our fight, our hunger has to be there; no different than if we lost four or won three in a row… We’re never going to disrespect another program. Everybody works too hard.”
San Jose State is led by dynamic guard Omari Moore. He leads the Spartans in scoring and assists. The sophomore from Pasadena, California has significantly improved this year, almost doubling his points per game from last season. He averages 13.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.
“They have a dynamite young player in Moore. Obviously in his second year and playing really good basketball,” Odom said. “Looks really fluid out there. He’s got good size for a guard.”
San Jose State lives and dies by the three. They shoot 26 3’s per game, knocking down an average of 9.2 per game.
“They’re really reliant on their shooting in general and that percentage, in terms of attempts, has gone up, even in conference play. They’re really searching for threes and they have one through five that can shoot at all times,” Odom said.
Their best 3-point shooters are forwards Trey Anderson and Tibet Görener, as well as guards Moore and Trey Smith. Smith has made 40 3-pointers this season and Anderson shoots a remarkable 47.1% from beyond the arc.
“One of the better shooting teams in our conference. One that we’re going to have to really pay attention to,” Odom said.
For the Aggies on offense, they will have to deal with multiple looks from the Spartans on defense.
“They’re playing zone which as you know can impact the game significantly. They have two zones that they play: a one-three-one and a two-three. And they’re playing it about 55% of the time now, so they’re playing it more in conference than they did out of conference. So something, in a one-day prep, that’s not easy to prepare for,” Odom said.
The Aggies have played two games in the last five days. They have this game Thursday night and then UNLV looming on the horizon for Saturday night. Utah State has been able to put in reserve players in the last couple of minutes of the last two games, but rest time has still been limited. In order to succeed in this busy stretch, Odom explained they need to rest while still getting in their necessary preparation.
“I think it’s just making sure our bodies are ready and not overdoing it,” Odom said. “Nothing really changes in terms of our preparation for this particular game. We’ve had one-day preps before in (the) Myrtle Beach (Invitational).”
The game is scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m. MST. The Mountain West Network will stream the contest.