Utah State continues home stand with matchup against San Diego – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN — Utah State will continue in its three-game home stand by taking on San Diego and aims to extend a now six-game win streak.

Last year the Aggies and Toreros battled to a thrilling overtime finish in San Diego, with Utah State narrowly holding on for a 91-89 victory despite a 43-point performance from Eric Williams. But these two teams are both far different than the ones which faced off 13 months ago in California. Utah State has famously lost all rotation players from last year while San Diego lost each of its top four leading scorers, including Williams.

Though sitting at a respectable-looking 6-3 record, the Toreros’ strength of schedule and list of quality wins is lacking. Basketball Reference ranks San Diego’s strength of schedule 308th among Division I teams, and per the recently released NET, San Diego hasn’t played a Quad 1 or Quad 2 opponent at all this year. The Toreros are 0-3 against Quad 3 teams with all of their wins have come against either non-Division I teams or in games currently classified as Quad 4.

The Toreros are a fast-paced team, ranking 79th in KenPom adjusted tempo. Utah State, in contrast, is 268th in tempo, preferring a slower pace in favor of picking its spots to get out and run. San Diego’s offense emphasizes transition attempts as much as possible, and in half-court sets often resorts to isolation. These two avenues of offense can often lead to drawing fouls, something that San Diego has done fairly well this season. And drawing fouls has been an indicator of team success this season, with the Toreros being 5-0 when attempting at least 20 free throws and are 1-3 when shooting less than 20.

Sprinkle emphasized the need to “do a great job guarding the basketball one-on-one,” and compared San Diego to one of USU’s previous opponents, Southern Utah. That game was somewhat infamous for how dissatisfied Sprinkle was with his team’s defense (USU allowed a season-high 84 points) against a team with several athletic, scoring guards. And despite some issues in the first half of the game against UC Irvine, Sprinkle said he thinks they’ve improved since the Southern Utah game.

“We improved immediately after that Southern Utah game,” Sprinkle said. “Irvine wasn’t the best first half. It wasn’t so much not guarding our guy against Irvine. It was, we got lost a couple times. We were staring at the basketball.”

The two players to watch on San Diego are its two guards – Wayne McKinney and Deuce Turner – the latter of whom has served as a sixth-man scorer, coming off the bench in eight of the Toreros nine games this year. The pair are San Diego’s two leading scorers, combining to average 26.2 points per game and roughly one-third of the team’s field goal attempts. Turner is the team’s most prolific 3-point shooter with an average of 4.9 attempts from downtown per game (albeit he’s making just 29.5 percent of those attempts which is roughly on par with his career 3-point percentage).

Behind McKinney and Turner there is a decent group of support scorers, starting with Dragos Lungu and Kevin Patton, both of whom average between 9-10 points per game. Two others, PJ Hayes and Jimmy Oladokun, average just over seven points per game.

The defense San Diego will bring to the game isn’t the highest-ranked unit the Aggies will face, but it does have a much higher efficiency rating per KenPom. It ranks 148th in KenPom’s defensive efficiency, compared to the 281st rank on offense. Sprinkle spoke about the variety the Toreros bring on the defensive end and how “they keep you off-balance.”

“They run about seven different defenses. They’ve got three or four different presses,” Sprinkle said. “After every free throw, made basket, they’re going to throw some stuff at us. So we’ve got to be a lot more stable with the basketball than we have been against presses.”

San Diego will test Utah State’s ability to break full court pressures, something that’s caused the Aggies a handful of headaches in previous games. 


Projected Starters

Utah State (7-1)

  • G – Darius Brown (6-2, Sr.) – 10.0 points | 3.4 rebounds | 7.9 assists

  • G – Mason Falslev (6-3, Fr.) – 12.1 points | 4.9 rebounds | 3.3 assists

  • G – Ian Martinez (6-3, Jr.) – 9.7 points | 2.9 rebounds | 1.6 assists

  • F – Great Osobor (6-8, Jr.) – 20.5 points | 9.6 rebounds | 2.9 assists

  • C – Isaac Johnson (7-0, So.) – 7.3 points | 2.6 rebounds | 0.6 assists

San Diego (6-3)

  • G – Wayne McKinney (6-0, Jr.) – 13.2 points | 3.8 rebounds | 3.0 assists

  • G – Dragos Lungu (6-6, Fr.) – 9.9 points | 4.6 rebounds | 2.6 assists

  • F – PJ Hayes (6-6, Sr.) – 7.4 points | 3.1 rebounds | 1.3 assists

  • F – Jimmy Oladokun Jr. (6-9, Fr.) – 7.0 points | 4.8 rebounds | 0.4 assists

  • C – Steven Jamerson II (6-10, Jr.) – 4.0 points | 3.0 rebounds | 0.0 assists


Utah State

  • Max Agbonkpolo – Day-to-Day (Foot)

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