Gear up for gameday: Utah State
LARAMIE -- Surprise, surprise -- San Diego State won the Mountain West's regular season title Wednesday night with a 71-62 road win over UNLV.
It's the Aztecs second straight championship and eighth since they joined the conference back in 1999. They actually have 13 if you count league tournament victories.
Cutting down the nets has become a habit on Montezuma Mesa, though last night that tradition was altered just a bit:
SDSU flew home -- the title trophy safely secured by a seatbelt -- and snipped the twine inside its own practice gym in southern California. The nets at Thomas & Mack Center in Sin City are safe from Brian Dutcher's squad -- for now.
The fan-less Mountain West Men's Championships are set to begin March 10 in Las Vegas.
Let's get to why you stopped by this story in the first place, shall we?
The Wyoming Cowboys will take on the Utah State Aggies tonight in Logan at 7:30 p.m. MST. These two rivals were supposed to meet at the Spectrum for a two-game series back in mid-February. COVID-19 concerns forced Jeff Linder's Cowboys to hang in Laramie.
The last time these guys got together was 367 days ago in the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament. The Aggies outlasted the Cowboys, 89-82, en route to a tourney title.
The virus also claimed the Cowboys last two games, which were supposed to be against San Jose State inside the Arena-Auditorium last week. The Spartans had a positive. They found out about it when they landed in Denver.
So, once again, Wyoming has waited out another unexpected delay. The Cowboys haven't played a game in 13 days. Will rust be a factor? Linder has no doubt.
"It just feels like you're starting from scratch," Linder said Tuesday during his weekly press conference.
Is there a chance Kenny Foster or Eoin Nelson, who have both dealt with extended injuries, will benefit from the break and be back on the court? Nope. Any chance they could play in Vegas next week? Not likely.
You know who will be on the court though? Neemias Queta.
The Aggies 7-foot junior, who is averaging a team-best 14.8 points per game. For good measure, the big man from Portugal is also pulling down nearly 10 rebounds per outing.
Calling Graham Ike.
This will be a real test for the Cowboys' freshman forward, who has played in just eight career games. The 6-foot-9 Colorado product is netting more than nine points per contest and hauling in five rebounds.
When these two teams were originally scheduled to play, Linder talked about the matchup between the bigs. Tuesday, he added that Utah State's offense goes through Queta about "70% of the time."
"The first time I saw Queta it was like, man, where did that guy come from?" Linder said back in February. "You don't realize how big he is until you see him in person."
You aren't the only one looking forward to that matchup.
"I was looking forward to Graham going up against him," Linder said after news of the cancellation broke. "... It was an opportunity for Graham to kind of see what it's like going up against a a high-level guy and a Defensive-Player-of-the-Year type of guy. He's a guy that allows them to be elite defensively. So, yeah, it's unfortunate."
The time has come -- finally.
Mountain West Conference standings
1 San Diego State (20-4, 14-3-MW Champions)
2 Colorado State (17-4, 14-3)
3 Utah State (16-7, 13-4)
4 Boise State (18-7, 14-6)
5 Nevada (14-9, 9-7)
6 Fresno State (11-10, 9-10)
7 UNLV (11-13, 8-9)
8 Wyoming (12-9, 6-8)
9 San Jose State (5-15, 3-13)
10 Air Force (5-19, 3-17)
11 New Mexico (6-15, 2-15)
Here is all you need to know about tonight's tilt in Logan:
WHO: Wyoming (12-9, 6-8) at Utah State (16-7, 13-4)
WHEN: Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. MST
WHERE: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, Logan, Utah
TV: FS1 (Channel 219 on DirecTV, 150 on Dish Network, 1652 on AT&T)
RADIO: Cowboy Sports Network
TICKETS: USU ticket office
BOX SCORE: Live stats
ROSTERS: Wyoming / Utah State
VEGAS ODDS: Utah State -16.5, O/U 146.5
HISTORY: Wyoming leads the all-time series 51-32 (Utah State knocked off the Cowboys, 89-82, in the semifinals of the MW Tournament last March)
HEAD COACHES: Jeff Linder / Craig Smith
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