The Utah State Aggies wrapped up the exhibition portion of their schedule Friday night with a dominant performance against Grand Canyon, as they cruised to a 76-46 victory over the Antelopes. After annihilating Laval Universite last week, USU came into Friday’s game looking to improve on their execution, and also seeking to give some playing time to new players at key positions.”We made a little bit of progress from one week to the next, defensively,” Aggie head coach Stew Morrill said following the game. “We’ve still got a long ways to go. Obviously, the level of competition improves with four straight in-state games coming up.”While Coach Morrill may not be absolutely content with where USU currently stands, there is no denying that the Aggies played good team defense. Grand Canyon was held to a meager 29.6% from the field, as they also turned the ball over 12 times. The Aggies did not allow the Antelopes to get into a rhythm on offense, especially early. Grand Canyon only scored 18 points before the intermission.Utah State was able to score early and often, as they ran their offense through senior forward Tai Wesley. The team-leader put up an efficient 23 points in 24 minutes of playing time on 10-11 shooting from the field, to go along with eight rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. Wesley credited much of his success to the way that Grand Canyon chose to defend him, in addition to the play of USU on the defensive end of the court.”It felt good, I only had one guy on my back, so it felt like I could have my way down there,” Wesley said. ” Hopefully the other teams aren’t paying attention to this so I can get single-teamed every night.””One thing that I thought helped was us getting stops. We were able to get stops and run, and that got us some easy looks. That got me going… We wanted to come out and make a statement, and I felt like I did.”Wesley was not the lone Aggie to play well, however. Fellow post-player Brady Jardine was also very productive. The high-flying junior out of Twin Falls, Idaho had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes. New point guard Brockieth Pane was also close to a double-double, as he scored eight points and dished out 10 assists. Pane received praise from Coach Morrill.”(Pane) can make some plays. He is good in the open court and he is unselfish. We need him to be unselfish. We have a lot of veterans out there. To this point, he has been very coach-able. We’ve got along road ahead, but everything looks good there. He did a nice job.”Pane said that he was focusing on distributing the basketball, as he looks to settle into the starting point guard role for Coach Morrill.”Me and Coach (Morrill), we kind of sat down a couple of weeks prior to me starting, and he told me that it was my job to get everybody involved… That was what I tried to come out and do, I tried to get everybody involved. Luckily, everybody was making shots tonight, that was the good thing about it.”Grand Canyon came into the game fresh off of a 90-66 loss to UNLV, and the Antelopes knew that they faced a difficult task in trying to match-up with USU.”This is an incredible basketball team,” Grand Canyon head coach Russ Pennell said. “… This was a great experience for our team, and obviously we won’t play a team nearly as good as this team we played tonight.”When asked to compare the two games between UNLV and USU, Pennell talked about the differences in game-plans between the two teams.”They play two entirely different styles of basketball. UNLV plays more of an up and down style of game… Utah State is all about precision, power game, picks and execution. They are as good and have been as good as anyone in the country at playing that style of basketball.”With the exhibition portion of their schedule now complete, the Aggies will now have a full week to prepare for their first regular-season game. On Saturday, November 13th, Weber State will travel to Logan to face USU. Tip-off is slated for 7 PM.
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