How to watch, projected starters, injuries – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN – With Utah State on its first two-game losing streak of the season, confidence in the team and its NCAA Tournament hopes are low. But the Aggies are on the cusp of their fourth 20-win season in the last five years. The only thing that stands in their way is an Air Force team coming off its biggest win of the year.

How to watch

  • Tip-off: 7 p.m. MT

  • Location: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum | Logan, UT

  • 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

G – Rylan Jones (Undisclosed) – OUT

Jones has missed the last 10 games with an undisclosed upper-body injury. No timetable has been provided for a return.

Air Force

G – Nikc Jackson (Illness) – OUT

F – Lucas Moerman (Shoulder) – OUT

Projected Starters

Utah State (19-7, 8-5, 4th in MW)

  • G – Steven Ashworth (6-1, Jr.) – 15.9 points | 3.4 rebounds | 4.6 assists

  • G – Max Shulga (6-4, Jr.) – 11.2 points | 4.2 rebounds | 4.0 assists

  • G/F – Sean Bairstow (6-8, Sr.) – 11.0 points | 4.7 rebounds | 2.7 assists

  • F – Taylor Funk (6-9, Gr.) – 13.8 points | 5.4 rebounds | 1.8 assists

  • C – Trevin Dorius (7-0, Sr.) – 5.8 points | 3.7 rebounds | 0.2 assists

  • 6th Man – Dan Akin (6-9, Gr.) – 12.3 points | 7.1 rebounds | 0.8 assists

Air Force (13-13, 4-9, 9th in MW)

  • G – Jeffrey Mills (6-4, So.) – 5.4 points | 2.1 rebounds | 2.9 assists

  • G – Ethan Taylor (6-5, So.) – 8.0 points | 3.6 rebounds | 3.3 assists

  • F – Jake Heidbreder (6-5, So.) – 14.4 points | 3.2 rebounds | 1.4 assists

  • F – Beau Becker (6-7, So.) – 7.4 points | 2.8 rebounds | 0.7 assists

  • F – Rytis Petraitis (6-10, Jr.) – 9.8 points | 5.5 rebounds | 0.6 assists

Team Statistical Ranks

Stats and ratings are from Basketball Reference (except the NET ranking). All ranks are out of 363 Division I teams.

Utah State

  • Pace – 69.1 (141st)

  • Offensive Rating – 113.8 (16th)

  • Defensive Rating – 102.2 (221st)

  • Field Goal % – 48.1 (27th)

  • 3-point % – 41.1 (1st)

  • Rebounding % – 52.8 (68th)

  • NET Rank – 37th

Air Force

  • Pace – 63.4 (352nd)

  • Offensive Rating – 105.2 (164th)

  • Defensive Rating – 103.9 (258th)

  • Field Goal % – 45.7 (111th)

  • 3-point % – 35.0 (150th)

  • Rebounding % – 47.5 (324th)

  • NET Rank – 152nd


Air Force is coming off a high point for its team. The Falcons defeated New Mexico 89-77 in what was the highest-scoring game of the season for Air Force. Jake Heidbreder scored 26 points, the most he’s put up in conference play and most since Dec. 6 when he had 27 against South Dakota.

Even with that win, the Falcons remain ninth in the Mountain West standings, just ahead of Colorado State. But having just defeated fifth-place New Mexico, the Falcons are catching Utah State at its low point of the season. The fourth-place Aggies have lost two in a row for the first time this year. But head coach Ryan Odom said the team hasn’t altered its approach, just as it hasn’t all year no matter if the team wins or loses any given day.

“There’s nothing different that we do when we lose compared to what we do when we win,” Odom said. “It’s the same mentality. We figure out the things that we didn’t do well, whatever that particular game was whether we won or we lost. Had we made the last shot against San Diego State here we still would have been the same team regardless had we won or lost by two like we did.”

Not coincidental to Utah State being on a two-game losing streak is the fact the Aggies had two of their three lowest scoring games of the season last week — just 61 on Wednesday against San Diego State and only 64 at San Jose State. Shooting issues plagued USU in both games as they shot below 40 percent as a team in both games.

Air Force may be just the team to release the Aggies from that shooting funk. Utah State shot 51 percent from the field against the Falcons, the third-most in USU’s conference games. And that game happened on the road, where USU hasn’t shot the ball as well.

Any potential good-shooting may not come at the 3-point line. In the Aggies’ game at Air Force, they took a season-low 12 threes. Instead of long-range shots the Aggies loaded up on 2-pointers and shot 51.4 percent on those inside-the-arc shots. Utah State also had a season-low 10 assists in that game.

“They like to take away the threes. They limit your assists because they switch so much and they’re always in front of you,” Odom said. “You have to know that going in that you’re going to have to find other ways to manufacture baskets. It’s not easy to get them in a scramble.”

Getting players to make great individual plays may be a key as it was in the previous game. The Aggies got solid performances out of Taylor Funk (16 points) and Steven Ashworth (15) plus a great night from bench wing Zee Hamoda (nine points in 15 minutes).

Starting lineups for both sides will be different. Rylan Jones, still out with an undisclosed injury, started the last time against Air Force allowing Ashworth to come off the bench. Air Force will likely have two changes, swapping Camden Vander Zwaag and Corbin Green for Rytis Petraitis and Beau Becker.

Defensively, one of the biggest challenges will be dealing with Air Force’s star wing, Jake Heibreder. He scored 19 points against Utah State last time out and he’s on a roll, averaging 19.0 points over the last three games, peaking with the 26 points against New Mexico.

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