Aggies hosting Colorado State for Senior Night, trying to support Ukrainian-native Max Shulga – Cache Valley Daily

Photo by Robert K. Scott

LOGAN, Utah — Several Aggies will play their final game at the Spectrum Saturday night. Utah State (16-13, 7-9) hosts Colorado State (22-4, 12-4) in the Aggies’ final home game and Senior Night. 


“It’ll be a fun atmosphere for us and we want to honor those guys,” head coach Ryan Odom said. “I hope it’s packed for these guys on Saturday night.”


For Senior Night, Utah State will honor forwards Justin Bean and Brandon Horvath and guards Brock Miller and RJ Eytle-Rock. Bean and Miller have been Aggies since the 2017-18 season and Horvath and Eytle-Rock followed Odom to Logan this season. 


When Odom first came to Logan last year, he was immediately impressed by Bean and Miller.


“I was just so impressed with the maturity level, just enjoyed every moment talking with them,” Odom said. “The leadership, I could tell immediately, that we had a chance to be successful and a lot of it was due to them and their leadership and experiences that they’ve had while wearing the Aggie uniform.”


Due to a back injury, Miller was limited this season. Throughout his career at Utah State, he has been a constant contributor. After a foot injury his freshman year, Miller went on to start at least 29 games a season and appear in at least 30 the next three years. He’s the only Aggies to have ever started 35 games as a freshman. He did this in the 2018-19 season as a redshirt freshman. 


“While (Bean) has been able to play and been available all season and had just an amazing year, (Miller) had some disappointment, right. To see him, be able to actually just get on the court again made me smile,” Odom said. “It was just neat to have him back out there. We’ll have a relationship the rest of our lives. It’s a really cool thing.”


Bean has had arguably one of the best seasons in Utah State history this year. He’s put up a conference-leading 17 double-doubles and averaged 18.1 points in 35.3 minutes per game. He has also become a staple in Cache Valley through name, image and likeness deals with several local businesses. 


Assistant coach Nate Dixon said it was hard to put their impact on the program into words.


“What those guys mean to this program is probably unheard of,” Dixon told the Full Court Press on 106.9 The FAN on Friday. “They’re certainly a leader on the court, off the court, in the community. You ask those guys to do anything on this campus or in this community, they’re the first to do it.”

For the two Maryland-Baltimore Country transfers, they will celebrate their careers with the coaches that have been there through it all. Odom was quick to mention how important it was to him and his staff that they followed them to Logan. 


“For them to even want to come out here with us, warms our hearts as coaches because it’s a neat thing to be able to finish it out with them,” Odom said. “They both have really grown as players. They both have grown as people.”


While some of these seniors still have a year of eligibility, Odom is not focused on it right now.


“We’ll deal with that after the season,” Odom said. 


However, Odom did add that “Brandon (Horvath) won’t be back.” 


Outside of the ceremony tonight, the Aggies will have a fierce matchup against the third-place team in the conference. 


After a rough 21-point loss to UNLV last Saturday, the Rams bounced back against Wyoming at home. They beat the second-place team in the conference 61 to 55. 


Odom said Colorado State is led by juniors David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens. Their stats definitely back up this claim. 


Roddy is a prime candidate for Mountain West player of the year. He averages 19.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. What Roddy means to the Rams is similar to what Bean means to the Aggies. 


“They have some certain similarities for sure,” Odom said. “They both can shoot the three, they both can demand the double in and around the block, they both rebound, they both have great motors, they both pass the ball really well. Roddy had a great game against us at their place.”


Roddy put up 24 points and six rebounds against the Aggies earlier this season. He was a big part of the Rams’ 77-72 victory at home. 


Much of Colorado State’s offense runs through Stevens. The Texan guard averages 15.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. That assist rate is third-best in the conference. 


“They’re going to provide a big challenge for us,” Odom said. “The other players will have a say in who wins the game as well.”


Some of those other players could be Jalen Lake and Chandler Jacobs who both scored 11 points last time against Utah State. 


For Odom, the loss last time was due to the Aggies’ speed, mistakes and missed opportunities.


“We were pretty slow all around. Defensively we did some good things at times, but we also had some really bad breakdowns as well,” Odom said. “There were baskets out there that we feel like we could have taken away that we didn’t. And then there were some offensive plays that we certainly would like to have back.” 


One reason why the Aggies only lost by five was due to their balanced scoring. Four players record double digits in the contest. Utah State will look to implement that same strategy this time around. 


“When our stat sheet is balanced, we’re pretty tough to beat,” Odom said. “When we’re just Brandon and Bean inside and score and we don’t have much outside of that, we’re not as tough to beat. We have to make sure that our guys are looking for one another and playing the way that we’re supposed to play.”


In other news, Aggie guard Max Shulga has been hit hard by the conflict in Ukraine. The sophomore is from Kyiv and his family still lives in Ukraine. Odom said the team has tried to support him through this difficult time. 


“I’m checking in with him all the time. We all are, our whole staff and players,” Odom said.  


Shulga checks in with his family frequently, but he cannot do much outside of that. 


“He talks to his parents every day,” Odom said. “There’s no way to get out of there right now. They have to wait it out and see how this thing progresses.”


Odom added that “it’s not easy” for Shulga. 


“I’m sure there’s parts of him that just want to go home and be with his family to help, but realizing that it’s out of his control at this point,” Odom said. “All we’re trying to do is just be there to support and help as best we can.” 


Tonight’s game will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. MST. It will be broadcast on FS1. 

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