Pacific (6-1) at Utah State (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 7:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: Pacific 3-0, Utah State 3-0. Away Record: Pacific 1-1, Utah State 2-0. Neutral Record: Pacific 2-0, Utah State 0-1. Conference Record: Pacific 0-0, Utah State 0-0. Series Record: Utah State leads, 44-23.
GAME NOTES: The Utah State Aggies will try to recover from their first loss of the season as they host the Pacific Tigers in a non-league affair at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Pacific also enters play on Saturday with just a single loss on the ledger. The Tigers fell on the road to No. 13 Oregon last Friday but bounced back with wins over Cal Poly (73-71) and North Dakota (93-76), all part of the Global Sports Classic.
Utah State faced in-state rival BYU in its last bout but came short in an 85-74 final in Salt Lake City. The loss ended a five-game win streak to begin the season for the Aggies, who have won all three of their home games on the campaign.
The last time these teams squared off Pacific came away with a 65-57 victory. The win was the fourth in the last five meetings for the Tigers. However, Utah State still owns a commanding lead in the all-time series (44-23).
Sama Taku scored 18 points to lead five players in double figures during Pacific's win over North Dakota. The Tigers connected on 56.5 percent of their field-goal attempts during the contest, while forcing 17 turnovers and hitting 6-of-13 shots from beyond the arc.
The Tigers usually shoot a solid percentage from the floor as they have knocked down 46.1 percent of their field-goal attempts this year. The offensive efficiency has led to a respectable scoring average as well (77.7 ppg). Taku (13.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.9 apg) and Tony Gill (13.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg) are the primary contributors on offense. Taku plays on the perimeter and does not shoot all that well (.369), while Gill gets the bulk of his touches near the basket and finishes on 55.4 percent of his field-goal tries. Ross Rivera (12 ppg) sparks the team off the bench and Andrew Bock (11.7 ppg) can also be relied on.
Utah State did itself no favors against a talented BYU squad. The Aggies turned the ball over 16 times, while forcing only seven miscues from the Cougars. Utah State was outscored off those takeaways (19-6) and also got bullied on points in the paint (54-38).
The hope is that the showing against BYU was just a bump in the road. Utah State has otherwise been playing well on both ends of the floor with sizable advantages in scoring (+11.5) and rebounding (+9.5), all while netting nearly 50 percent of its attempts from the field. A trio of productive scorers leads the way. Jarred Shaw (15.7 ppg, 8 rpg) eats up space inside and finishes well around the rim. Spencer Butterfield (15.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) hits on a 53.2 percent of his field goal attempts and Preston Medlin (14.2 ppg, 4.5 apg) is both a strong scorer and a willing passer.
The Aggies are right to believe that the effort against BYU was just an off night. The balance they have offensively will push them past the Tigers in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 80, Pacific 69
12/07 10:38:20 ET