The schools split one-point decisions on each other's court last
season, with UCI winning, 67-66 (on Jerry Green's game-winning shot)
in Logan , and the Aggies prevailing, 62-61, at the Bren Center. Utah
State leads the series against UCI, 25-24.
"We've been on the road awhile, so it's good to get back home,"
UCI Coach Pat Douglass said. "Unfortunately, you take on the big
honcho, the Aggies. But it will be nice to play in front of our big
crowd. It should be a lot of fun."
The Aggies (12-3, 3-1) are the class of the Big West. They are
ranked fourth in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25
poll, while UCI has fallen out of the rankings.
Utah State features 6-foot-7 senior forward Desmond Penigar, who
leads the Aggies with a 14.8 points-per-game average. The Aggies'
offense is guided by junior point guard Mark Brown, who led
Saddleback College to the California Community College championship
last year and was the MVP.
Over the last four games, Brown has compiled 27 assists and only
five turnovers. He leads the Big West with a 2.57 assist-to-turnover
ratio and also ranks second with 4.8 assists per game. The Aggies
also have sophomore Spencer Nelson, who earned Big West Player of the
Week honors after averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, though he
played only 18.5 minutes per game, in wins over Cal Poly and UC Santa
While Utah State has several options on offense, Douglass wants
his team to be prepared for the Aggies' defense.
"They're a very good defensive team," Douglass said of the Aggies'
who are the top rebounding team in the Big West and third in scoring
defense, allowing an average of 59 points per game. "Brown has done
an excellent job of leading the team and setting up other teammates.
(Coach) Stew (Morill) has a winning formula. They're always a tough
challenge for anyone in our conference."
UCI will combat the Aggies' attack with its ability to get to the
free-throw line and its depth. UCI is No. 1 in the Big West in
free-throw percentage (.762) and second in scoring offense, posting
74.2 points per game. Freshman Jeff Gloger leads the Big West in
steals for all games (3.58) and in league games (4). He is ranked
third nationally, while 7-foot junior center Adam Parada is ranked
second in the NCAA in field-goal percentage (.659).
Parada's play has picked up as of late, as he has scored 75 points
in 115 minutes over the past five games. He leads the Big West in
field-goal percentage. He scored 11 points, as he struggled with foul
trouble, in UCI's 81-77 win at UC Riverside Saturday.
Senior forward Jordan Harris scored a season-high 20 points
Saturday, while senior guard Mike Hood hit the go-ahead jumper with
29 seconds left and hit two free throws with 11 seconds left to help
secure the win.
"He started off slowly against UCR," Douglass said of Hood.
"For him to come back and make the key shots, showed some mental
toughness. I see him regaining form. It's very uplifting for us to
see him continue to improve."