NIT Time - Aggies Play Pre-Season Foe

Aggies face off against pre-season foe, Montana State.

The Aggies will host a familiar foe on Tuesday at Logan, Utah. Montana State, a team who has played the Aggies twice this year. In both of those games, the Aggies came out on top.

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Utah State Basketball To Host Montana State In NIT First Round On Tuesday.

Utah State's basketball team will continue its season by hosting Montana State in a National Invitational Tournament first-round game on Tuesday, March 12 at 7:05 p.m. The Aggies (23-7 overall, 13-3 Big West Conference) will meet Montana State (19-9 overall, 12-2 Big Sky) for the third time this season. Both schools were their respective conference regular season champions. USU opened the year with a 66-51 victory at Bozeman, Mont. on Nov. 17 and then defeated the Bobcats 60-55 at Logan on Dec. 4.

"We're just delighted to be hosting a game in the NIT," said USU head coach Stew Morrill. "We are relieved to not be traveling tomorrow (Monday) because that would have created all kinds of logistic and fatigue problems with our team.

"I'm sure Montana State is hoping we're thinking that we have already beaten this team twice and we have to be smarter than that," Morrill said. "We realize Montana State is a good basketball team that got better from the first time we played them to the second and has done nothing but get better as the year went on. Anytime you are the conference champions you're a good team. I spent a lot of time as a coach in that conference and I have great respect for Montana State and the Big Sky Conference."

Utah State fell one game shy of advancing to its third straight NCAA Tournament as the Aggies lost 60-56 to UC Santa Barbara in the Big West Conference Tournament Championship game late Saturday. USU won its first two tournament games 61-41 vs. Idaho and 69-65 vs. Pacific.

The Aggies are making their sixth NIT appearance and are 2-5 in the tournament all-time. USU's last NIT game was a 93-87 overtime loss to Illinois State in Logan in 1995. This game will mark USU's third time to host an NIT game as USU also hosted Louisiana-Lafayette (then Southwestern Louisiana) in 1984. USU lost that game 94-92.

USU has now advanced to postseason action for the third straight year as the Aggies went to the NCAA Tournament in both 2000 and 2001. It is just the second time in school history that USU has put together three straight postseason appearances as the 1962, 63, and 64 teams all went to the NCAA Tournament.

"We held out hope that we might get into the NCAA Tournament and watching the (NCAA Tournament) selection show they showed us as one of the bubble teams," Morrill said. "We held out hope and it didn't happen. I told the players that 220 teams are done playing and we are still playing and we need to be excited about that."

Tickets for the game against Montana State will be available through the USU Athletic Ticket Office beginning Monday. Aggie season ticket holders will have from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday to purchase their regular seats. After 5 p.m., tickets will be available for the general public.

All seats will be reserved and will cost $14 for adults and youth and $4 for students with a valid Utah State student ID card. Tickets can be purchased in person at the ticket office in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or by calling toll free at 1-888-U-STATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.

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