LOGAN – Utah State is 2-0 for the first time since 2019 (a season the Aggies started 7-0) and is looking the part of an at-large NCAA Tournament team. But more, and harder, tests will come. Tonight the Aggies will face a rising Santa Clara program that finished third in the West Coast Conference last year and so far hasn’t shown any backwards steps despite losing a player to the NBA Draft from that third-place team.
How to watch
- Tip-off: 7 p.m. MT
- Location: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum | Logan, Utah
- TV Broadcast: Mountain West Network
- Aggie GameDay Coverage on KVNU (102.1 FM/610 AM & KVNU mobile app): 6 p.m. MT
- KVNU Aggie Call (102.1 FM/610 AM, KVNU mobile app): Immediately after game ends
Utah State: None
Santa Clara: G – Giordan Williams (6-4, Sr.) – OUT
- G – Rylan Jones (6-0, Sr.) – 3.0 points | 2.0 rebounds | 4.5 assists
- G – Max Shulga (6-4, Jr.) – 10.5 points | 6.5 rebounds | 1.5 assists
- G/F – Sean Bairstow (6-8, Sr.) – 11.5 points | 6.5 rebounds | 1.0 assists
- F – Taylor Funk (6-9, Gr.) – 15.5 points | 11.0 rebounds | 1.0 assists
- C – Trevin Dorius (7-0, Sr.) – 3.0 points | 4.0 rebounds | 0.0 assists
- G – Carlos Stewart (6-1, So.) – 17.0 points | 4.5 rebounds | 2.0 assists
- G – Brandin Podziemski (6-5, So.) – 32.0 points | 10.0 rebounds | 2.5 assists
- F – Keshawn Justice (6-7, Sr.) – 4.0 points | 5.0 rebounds | 2.5 assists
- F – Parker Braun (6-8, Sr.) – 6.0 points | 6.5.0 rebounds | 4.0 assists
- F – Jaden Bediako (6-10, Sr.) – 4.0 points | 4.0 rebounds | 1.0 assists
Team Statistical Ranks
- Pace – 71.8 (180th)
- Offensive Rating – 110.4 (129th)
- Defensive Rating – 83.3 (77th)
- Field Goal % – 45.0 (191st)
- 3-point % – 44.2 (27th)
- Rebounding % – 58.9 (40th)
- KenPom Rating – 58th
- Pace – 79.1 (19th)
- Offensive Rating – 102.5 (211th)
- Defensive Rating – 84.8 (89th)
- Field Goal % – 40.0 (295th)
- 3-point % – 36.0 (128th)
- Rebounding % – 57.7 (61st)
- KenPom Rating – 105th
The most eye-popping aspect of Santa Clara’s early season has been the performance of Illinois transfer Brandin Podziemski. He hung 30 points on Eastern Washington in his debut with the Broncos and followed it up with 34 points against Georgia Southern. He was scorching-hot from three in the latter game, going 6-for-8 from distance. Overall, Podziemski’s shot 52.8 percent from the field. Not only has he shot well, he’s gotten to the free-throw line with 21 attempts so far this season, good for T-16th in the country.
“Obviously, off to a blazing-hot start,” USU head coach Ryan Odom said of Podziemski. “He can shoot. He’s very good with his fakes in attacking you and getting you off-balance. He’s good in transition. They move him around in their offense to where he’s getting handoffs, he’s coming off of ball screens and he just understands how to get free. So we’re going to have to stay attached, we’re going to have to do a good job of not allowing him easy looks.”
The Aggies already faced one volume scorer in Trey Woodbury and handled him quite well, holding the senior guard to just eight points on 4-of-12 shooting. Max Shulga and Zee Hamoda acted as primary defenders on Woodbury and the same two defenders will usually be matched up on Podziemski.
Pace of play will also be a key aspect of this game. Santa Clara rank 19th in pace per Basketball Reference at nearly 80 possessions per game. It’ll be a test for how quickly Utah State can get its defense set and how well they can defend in transition.
“They’re playing with major tempo. Playing a fast style,” Odom said. “Their point guard, it starts with him, (Carlos) Stewart. He’s very very fast, as fast as you’ll see in college basketball. We’re gonna have to get back, get our defense set and force them into the next action. We cannot afford to give up transition baskets against a really good team.”
Through two games, Santa Clara are among the better teams in rebounding, but so is Utah State. In per game terms, the Broncos hold an advantage over the Aggies (47.0 boards per game by SC ranks 15th while the 46.5 for USU ranks 18th) but in percentage of rebounds available, the reverse is true (see the above stat breakdown).