GAME DAY PREVIEW: Utah State vs. New Mexico State

<strong>LOGAN—</strong> “Revenge Week” got off to a bit of a rocky start for the USU men’s basketball team Thursday as Denver’s Brett Olson nailed an off-balance 30-foot 3-pointer in overtime to push the Pioneers past the Aggies, 63-60. Utah State doesn’t have much time to dwell on that Valentine’s heartbreak however, as “Revenge Week” continues when New Mexico State comes to the Spectrum Saturday night.

In a game that won’t tipoff until 9 p.m. and will be nationally televised on ESPNU, the Aggies will look to end their three-game home losing streak against an NMSU team that comes into the Spectrum having won 12 straight games.

“We’ve just got to come confident, come ready to play, and I’m sure we should get things done – especially with the help of the crowd and stuff like that,” junior guard Marvin Jean said.

New Mexico State has won the last three games in the series after sweeping the Aggies last season, and winning the first contest this year down in Las Cruces. That game started USU’s midseason tailspin, as Preston Medlin broke his wrist in the first half of that game, and Kyisean Reed tore his ACL late in the second half.

“When we first lost Kyisean and Preston, we had no chemistry, we were pretty down and like, ‘What are we going to do?’ We just had to adjust some things, and now I feel like we’re pretty much adjusted, so we should get things done,” Jean said.

Despite riding that 12-game win streak, the NewMags have encountered some problems of their own since the last time these teams met. Starting guard Tyrone Watson (10.8 points, 5 rebounds per game) has been suspended from the team and <a href=”http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/8923782/new-mexico-state-basketball-player-tyrone-p-watson-charged-beating-case” target=”_blank”>charged</a> with a third-degree felony after badly beating another man for dancing with his girlfriend.

NMSU is also without junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe who is out with injury and was averaging 7.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Senior forward Bandja Sy was also in question heading into this week’s games with an injury, but he played 33 minutes in NMSU’s 67-57 victory at San Jose State Thursday night, recording 13 points and nine rebounds, though he only shot 3-of-12 from the floor.

New Mexico State, meanwhile, continues to be led by WAC Player of the Year candidate, Daniel Mullings. The sophomore leads the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game, and is also active on the boards as he averages 5.2 per game. Mullings is also one of the top pick-pockets in the WAC, as he averages more than two steals per game.

Junior forward Renaldo Dixon has also stepped up in recent games, and posted his first career double-double against the Spartans with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Finally, the Aggies will once again get to deal with the giant Sim Bhullar, who stands 7-feet 5-inches tall and weighs in at more than 350 pounds.

Almost the exact opposite of Denver, which uses precise offense and undersized, but quick players to beat you, New Mexico State imposes its will with physical play and big, athletic players. USU head coach Stew Morrill said it’s hard to find two bigger contrasting styles in college basketball.

“Obviously (New Mexico State is) physically gifted,” Morrill said. “With LaTech, they’re the most athletic team in the league and certainly the biggest team in the league. They present a whole different set of problems. We have two very contrasting games this weekend.”

Along with being carried nationally on ESPNU, the game will be available throughout Cache Valley and the surrounding area on KVNU (610 AM/102.1 FM) and KLZX (95.9 FM), with the “Voice of the Aggies” Al Lewis on the play-by-play. Audio of the game can also be streamed live via the Internet on 610kvnu.com.

<em><strong>@TheRealTO</strong></em>

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