By Marc Owen
When BYU and Utah State have met on the basketball court in recent years, the games have been close.
Saturday”s match up against the Aggies looks to be no different with both teams playing relatively well early on in the season.
BYU (6-1) is coming off its second home win of the season against a physical San Diego squad.
The Aggies (5-1) suffered their first loss of the season on the road against Jackson State. The game against the Cougars will be the Aggies fifth straight game away from home.
Last year in Logan, the Cougars went into overtime with USU before falling 90-81.
“It seems like every time we play Utah State it”s a close game,” said senior guard Travis Hansen.
Two years ago in Provo, Mekeli Wesley and Trent Whiting led the Cougars to victory in a 69-67 nail-biter.
Utah State head coach Stew Morrill said the Cougars should pose the Aggies some problems with BYU”s size and style of play.
“BYU is even more physical than what we”ve seen,” Morrill said. “And whether or not we can match that will be a big key to the game.”
A big part of the Cougars physical game is 6-11 center Rafael Araujo. Araujo had perhaps is best game as a Cougar against San Diego, scoring 11 points.
Araujo said things are starting to come together for him at both ends of the floor.
“I”ve started to feel more comfortable,” he said.
Against San Diego, BYU held Torero leading-scorer center Jason Keep to seven points, largely due to Araujo”s play. Head coach Steve Cleveland said Araujo”s game is coming around.
“Rafael showed some maturity tonight,” Cleveland said. “That was encouraging.”
Considering how close the Aggies and Cougars have played in recent years, BYU can”t expect to start the game out slow and still come away with a victory.
“Everybody has to bring it every night,” Cleveland said. “Every possession has to be really important.”
Although BYU is off to its best start in 11 years, Cleveland said that the Cougars have no reason to get big heads after a 6-1 start.
“We are a long ways from being a good team,” Cleveland said. “The good thing is, we have that potential.”
While the Cougars boast the nations longest home winning streak, the Aggies are no push-overs on the road. Over the past four years, the Aggies have won 68 percent of their road games.
The Aggies are led by senior Desmond Penigar. The 6-7 forward averages 15.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
The Cougars and Aggies tip-off at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center.