BYU to Face Tough Road Test Against USU

While the Cougars have started out 5-0 and have won their games by an average score 86.8-59.8, they face what looks to be their toughest test of the early season when they take on Utah State in Logan on Wednesday night. It will be only the Cougars' second road trip of the season thus far, with the first coming against the Hawaii Warriors.

"We're excited," said Coach Rose. "This is a great game for our team this time of year, and we're looking forward to it."

The Aggies are 3-2 going into Wednesday's game, but make no mistake about the fact that the game will be a tough one for the Cougars. After all, Utah State has won 36 consecutive games in the Spectrum, behind only the Kansas Jayhawks' 44 straight homes wins as the longest streak in the nation.

While it's been four years since the Cougars have played in the Spectrum, Coach Rose believes his team has been prepared to deal with hostile road environments by playing in the Mountain West Conference.

"I think that we've got good experience, and this will be similar to going to the The Pit [New Mexico] and going to Double-A [Wyoming] and going to Cox Arena [San Diego State] and going to Thomas and Mack [UNLV]. [The Aggies have] got a great crowd and they love their team, and right now they've got a nice little streak going, so it will be a good test for us."

Just like with BYU, Utah State returned four starters from last season: Tyler Newbold, Jared Quayle, Tai Wesley and Pooh Williams. But just as the Cougars have had to fill the large void left after Lee Cummard graduated, the Aggies have had to make do without last year's WAC Player of the Year, Gary Wilkinson.

Rose said that Wilkinson wasn't just a skilled player in the low post but was also a great outside shooter. He noted that Wilkinson's replacement Nate Bendall doesn't play on the perimeter like his predecessor but is just as skilled at scoring in the low post, as well as at passing and shooting free throws. In addition, Rose added that the Aggies have three really good low-post scorers in Bendall, Wesley and Matt Formisano, something that he said was unique to any of BYU's opponents thus far.

Another threat BYU will have to deal with is wing player Pooh Williams, who had not yet cracked the starting lineup when BYU defeated Utah State 68-63 last year in Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake. Williams missed Utah State's first two games and saw limited minutes in his first game while being eased back following an injury. Rose said Williams "brings a lot more size at that position, a lot more depth obviously, athleticism, [and] he's long. Defensively he can cause a lot of problems. He's a guy that makes their team a lot better."

As for whether or not Utah State reminds Rose of any team his Cougars have faced yet this season, he has seen various differences but a few similarities as well.

"I think this team's pretty unique. I think that they remind me a little bit of Bradley in the sense that they have a lot of players that can score. Bradley was a really well balanced team that had guys that score 12, 13, 11, 9. That seems to be [the same] with this team. They can share the ball really well and a lot of guys can hurt you offensively. But other than that I think it's one of the best teams that we'll play for the fact that they're picked to win their league, so like I said I think it's a good test for us."

Utah State fans always get up for games against their hated instate foe BYU, and certainly consider this series to be a big rivalry. When asked if he considers it to be the same, Rose noted that this will be a really big game but added with a slight smirk that "I think everybody here at BYU knows who our rival is."


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