Men's basketball: USU hopes small crowd will get loud

Dec 29 2010 - 12:17am

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(ELI LUCERO/The Associated Press) Utah State’s Brady Jardine dunks it over Western Michigan forward Nate Hutcheson in the World Vision Invitational last Wednesday in Logan. The Aggies open WAC play hosting Hawaii on Wednesday night.
(ELI LUCERO/The Associated Press) Utah State’s Brady Jardine dunks it over Western Michigan forward Nate Hutcheson in the World Vision Invitational last Wednesday in Logan. The Aggies open WAC play hosting Hawaii on Wednesday night.

LOGAN -- Stew Morrill is taking the Aggies into the WAC wars without a key player.

No, everyone is healthy for tonight's Western Athletic Conference opener vs. Hawaii, set for 7 p.m. at the Smith Spectrum. But with Utah State on holiday break, the usually raucous Spectrum crowd won't have its usual dose of student supporters.

"I just wish that Hawaii and San Jose State were going to see our home crowd at its best," Morrill said Monday. "We need our fan base to rally without the students here."

USU begins its quest for a fourth WAC regular-season title in a row against perhaps the surprise of the league thus far. Under coach Gib Arnold, the Rainbow Warriors are 9-3 overall.

Utah State (11-2) has won 14 straight WAC games, the longest winning streak since the Aggies won 16 straight from 2007 to 2009.

Last week, USU won its own World Vision Invitational with lopsided wins over Troy, Idaho State and Western Michigan.

The Aggies are led by senior forward Tai Wesley who is averaging 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. Senior guard Brian Green is averaging 11.6 points, junior guard Brockeith Pane is averaging 9.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists, senior guard Pooh Williams is averaging 9.5 points and junior forward Brady Jardine is averaging 8.3 points and 8.6 rebounds.

Green, a Davis High product, was named the MVP of the tournament, averagingd 15.3 points, 3.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds during the tournament.

Hawaii has lost 12 straight road games dating back to the 2008-09 season. Hawai'i is led by junior guard Zane Johnson who is averaging 14.4 points and senior guard Hiram Thompson is averaging 12.3 points, sophomore forward Joston Thomas is averaging 12.3 points, and freshman guard Bo Barnes is averaging 10.1 points per game.

"There are some pretty good records in league, non-conference. I think Hawaii has a lot of energy with their new coach, Gib (Arnold) is doing a good job," Morrill said. "Hawaii ... has shown that in the preseason, that they're very capable of being an upper-tier team and who knows beyond that.

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