Utah State (9-1) at Texas-San Antonio (4-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (4,080) -- San Antonio, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: USU 7-1, UTSA 1-0. Away Record: USU 2-0, UTSA 2-5. Neutral Record: USU 1-0, UTSA 1-1. Conference Record: USU 0-0, UTSA 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Western Athletic Conference play begins on Saturday for the Utah State Aggies and the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, as the two squads meet at the Convocation Center.
Utah State's season has been nothing short of outstanding, as its only defeat in 10 tries came in a 67-58 decision against Saint Mary's-CA on Nov. 15. Since then, the Aggies have ripped off nine consecutive victories, culminating in three straight wins over Nicholls State (79-72), UC Davis (73-61) and Southern Illinois (70-58) in last weekend's World Vision Challenge. It's just the sixth time in history that USU has started a season at 9-1.
After winning three of its first four games, UTSA suffered a five-game losing skid, all of which came on the road. The Roadrunners were able to bounce back nicely on the final game of that lengthy road trip by downing Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 21, 75-45. The victory was head coach Brooks Thompson's 100th at the helm for the Roadrunners.
These two teams have never before faced one another on the hardwood. The 2012-13 campaign will be the first and last the two will meet as WAC rivals.
It's easy to see why Utah State has been so dominant this season by looking at its numbers, as it shoots a lofty 50.1 percent from the field in averaging 71.3 ppg, which 8.6 ppg more than its opponents. The Aggies continued to roll along in the 12-point win over Southern Illinois by making an outstanding 60 percent of their total shots. Kyisean Reed led the way in the victory with 21 points, while Preston Medlin nailed 3-of-4 from beyond the arc on his way to 16 points, adding six assists while committing zero turnovers. After averaging 17.0 ppg a season ago, Medlin has taken a step backwards this year with 13.6 ppg, but it's still enough to lead the team while putting up impressive percentages from the floor (.463) and the foul line (.821). Jarred Shaw has been a solid inside complement to Medlin, tallying 13.2 ppg and 8.8 rpg, shooting greater than 56 percent from the floor in the process. Reed rounds out a balanced attack with 12.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg.
UTSA has been outplayed this season in nearly every way possible, the team sporting negative margins in scoring (minus-5.2), rebounding (minus-4.6) and turnovers (minus-1.9), but it was able to put together its most dominating performance of the year in the 30-point win over Texas A&M-CC. The Roadrunners made 51 percent of their field goal attempts, paced by Kannon Burrage (21 points) and Michael Hale III (20 points), who each drilled four 3-pointers. Jeromie Hill added 18 points, while Hale III chipped in with six assists and Burrage grabbed seven rebounds. Despite shooting an unimpressive 37 percent from the field this season, Burrage is the WAC's second-leading scorer with his 18.6 ppg. Hale III is hot on his heels with 16.9 ppg while shooting a much-more efficient 55.7 percent from the floor. Hill tacks on 13.4 ppg to give UTSA an impressive trio of scorers, but no other player nets more than 4.5 ppg.
The Roadrunners will clearly be happy to return home for the first time in more than a month, but they will have their hands full with a potent and fundamentally sound Utah State squad. The Aggies haven't been intimidated away from home yet this year, and don't expect that to change in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 75, Texas-San Antonio 62
12/29 10:37:59 ET