Runnin? Utes to face off with Aggie rivals

By By Joseph Simmons

By Joseph Simmons

The Runnin’ Utes will have a chance to bounce back from their season-opening loss to Idaho when they face Utah State tonight in the Huntsman Center.

“Utah State’s a very mature, skilled team with some incredibly talented players,” said Utah head coach Jim Boylen.

The Aggies (1-0) will play Utah (0-1) on the heels of a narrow 66-60 victory at Weber State last Friday, which featured four Utah State players scoring in double digits.

One of the catalysts for the Aggie victory was senior guard Jared Quayle, who scored 11 points and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds. Boylen said that Quayle has caught his attention on film and in games and will likely be a challenge defensively for any team that faces him this year.

“I’ve been really impressed every time I’ve seen Quayle play,” Boylen said. “He’s a tough, smart guard and probably one of the best players our guys will go against this entire season.”

Quayle is one of four returning starters from last year’s WAC championship team. Combined, they have played 239 games at Utah State. This preseason, the Aggies were picked to repeat as champions by both WAC coaches and the media.

The Runnin’ Utes will also have two other Aggie guards to worry about on the defensive end. Last season, junior Tyler Newbold averaged nine points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 39.5 percent from long-distance. Newly arrived junior college transfer Brian Green averaged more than 14 points per game and shot 47.2 percent from 3-point range while playing for Salt Lake Community College.

The trio of Quayle, Green and Newbold is remarkably similar to Idaho’s three guards Mac Hopson, Steffan Johnson and Jeff Ledbetter, who combined for 51 points last Saturday8212;a fact that isn’t lost on the Utes. Ute forward Kim Tillie said that Utah State runs an offense that is much like the Vandals’, and that the Utes have worked in practice on handling it better on defense.

“Utah State has the same style of play as Idaho in lots of ways,” Tillie said. “The mistakes we made against Idaho, we can’t make against them. We’ll have to play tough transition defense and guard their shooters.”

Tillie and sophomore center David Foster will work to shut down Aggie forwards Nate Bendall and Tai Wesley. Wesley averaged 12 points and six rebounds per game for the Aggies last season, and juco transfer Bendall averaged 14.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, also at SLCC.

In last year’s matchup in Logan, the Aggies edged the Utes 66-64, as Wesley went for 18 points and tipped in the game-winning shot with 0.1 seconds left. Boylen said the Aggie big men present a particular challenge because of their ability to create their own shots.
“They get their shots when they want them, be it with a jumper, or a little hook shot or by using the glass,” Boylen said.

Tonight’s game will be the 222nd time the teams have faced each other in a rivalry that dates back to the 1908-1909 season. The Utes lead the series at 129-92 overall and crushed the Aggies 72-48 the last time they visited the Huntsman Center in 2007.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the game will be televised on The Mtn. and broadcast on KALL 700.

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