After Wednesday’s defeat coming at the hands of the Cougars, a lot of fingers have been pointed at key indicators that spell “loss”. Things like free-throw percentage, rebounding margin, turnovers, etc. are good measuring sticks to understand where a team went wrong. Most of the time when it comes to the Aggies, the number one statistic to look at is the playing time of All-WAC forward Tai Wesley. It doesn’t take a genius to notice that the amount of time Tai spends on the court is directly proportional to the Aggies chances of winning (i.e. more time, higher probability of winning). Wesley’s calling card in his four year career at Utah State has been hard-nosed, physical play on the offensive and defensive end. The natural result of the physicality is foul accumulation.
Wednesday night’s game in Provo was one of those games Tai would like to forget. Two and a half minutes into the game, Wesley picked up his 2nd foul of the night on a questionable blocking call. Stew Morrill was forced to pull Tai to prevent the Aggie captain from picking up a 3rd first half foul. Tai helplessly watched the Cougars go on a 12-3 run as he rode the pine on the Aggie sideline. Afraid the game would get out of hand, Coach Morrill subbed Wesley in 6 minutes later and subbed him in and out every few minutes the rest of the half. The game was tied at half, but having Tai play less than 10 first half minutes really hurt the Aggies’ chance to build any sort of lead or momentum. Now I don’t want to get into the intentional foul called on Wesley in the waning minutes, so I’ll let you make your own decision on the call. Regardless of the final foul that put Wesley on the bench for good, 25 minutes from the Aggies’ best player and post presence in a game against a Top 25 team on the road is not near enough.
Tai Wesley will now try to lead Utah State to a win as they look rebound when they meet Southern Utah in Cedar City, Saturday at 7:05 p.m. MST. The Thunderbirds are coming off a 66-58 win at Cal-State Bakersfield on Wednesday. The last time the Aggies met Southern Utah in Cedar City, the Thunderbirds made a late 2nd half surge to make things interesting. The key to SUU’s comeback in that game: poor Utah State free-throw shooting; the very same thing that plagued the Ags in Provo. We’ll see if the Aggies can remedy the problem and get back on track. And ‘Tai’m will tell (pretty clever, huh?) if the Aggies can pull off the road win.