Utah State men’s basketball ranked 24th in latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll and 25th in Associated Press poll

LOGAN, Utah ? Despite losing its first game since early December, Utah State’s men’s basketball team is ranked in both national polls for the third straight week as it is 24th in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll released Monday and 25th in the latest Associated Press poll. USU was ranked 17th in last week’s coaches’ poll and 21st in the AP poll. Overall, it is the second time in the last three years and the third time in the past eight seasons that Utah State has been ranked in both polls. The No. 17 ranking in last week’s ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll is the highest-ever ranking for Utah State in that poll which expanded from 20 to 25 teams prior to the 1990-91 season. USU was also ranked 17th in coaches’ poll during the 2008-09 season. The No. 21 ranking in last week’s AP poll is the highest by an Aggie team since the 2008-09 team was also ranked 21st. USU was also ranked 19th in the weekly AP poll during the 2003-04 season. The last time a Utah State team was ranked higher than 17th in any poll was at the end of the 1974-75 season when it was ranked 13th in the final United Press International Coaches’ poll. Last week, Utah State had its 17-game winning streak snapped at Idaho with a 64-56 loss to the Vandals. That 17-game winning streak was the third-longest in the nation and tied for the third-longest in school history. Utah State also won a share of its fourth-straight Western Athletic Conference regular season championship last weekend with a 71-55 home victory against Fresno State. Utah State, who is 23-2 on the season, is one of just nine teams in the nation with at least 23 wins, and those 23 victories are tied for the sixth-most in the country. Furthermore, USU is one of just nine teams in the nation with three or fewer losses. Utah State’s 23-2 start to the 2010-11 season is the third-best in school history trailing the 2003-04 and 2008-09 teams that started the year with identical 25-2 records. With its 23-2 record, Utah State has now won at least 23 games in each of the last 12 seasons, extending its own school record. USU entered the 2010-11 season as one of just three teams nationally with 11 straight 23-win seasons joining Kansas and Gonzaga. During the last 11 seasons, USU has averaged 25.4 wins and its 77.2 winning percentage since 2000 is the fourth-best in the nation. Utah State also continues to be one of the best defensive teams in the country as it currently ranks fifth in the nation in scoring defense (58.3), eighth in rebounding margin (+8.6) and 11th in field goal percentage defense (.388). Utah State returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 16 when it hosts Montana Western (19-7) at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on a tape-delayed basis and broadcast on Comcast Ch. 6 on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. USU has won 29 straight home games, which is the third-longest active steak in the nation behind Duke (33) and Kentucky (30). Utah State will then travel to Moraga, Calif., to play No. 23 Saint Mary’s (22-4) on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. (MT) as part of ESPNU BracketBusters. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. -USU-

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