Aggies to begin MW play with 3 of first 4 games at home
It’s time for a change.
For the first time since joining the Mountain West Conference, the Utah State men’s basketball team will begin league play against someone other than San Jose State. The Aggies had faced the Spartans the first three years in the MW to begin conference action.
This upcoming season USU will open MW play by hosting Boise State on Dec. 28. The league announced the conference schedule on Tuesday.
The Aggies play three of their first four league games at home in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. However, dates with Boise State, New Mexico (Jan. 4) and UNLV (Jan. 7) will be played when the students at USU are on winter break.
“As always the Mountain West schedule will be very challenging, no matter what order you play the games,” USU head coach Tim Duryea said in a release. “I feel bad for our students and our players that we have three conference home games before our students are back in class for the spring semester. However, we are looking forward to a very competitive, wide open league, similar to last year, with a lot of quality teams from top to bottom.”
The lone road game during the start of the conference portion of the schedule is at Air Force on New Year’s Eve. After playing two games at home, the Aggies take to the road for contests at Wyoming (Jan. 11) and San Diego State (Jan. 14)
After the road trip, USU hosts Colorado State (Jan. 21). Then it’s back on the road, taking on New Mexico (Jan. 25) for the second time. USU hosts its lone contest against Fresno State (Jan. 28) and will open the month of February with a home game against Nevada (Feb. 1).
Next up is a pair of road games at Boise State (Feb. 4) and Colorado State (Feb. 8), before hosting back-to-back home games against Wyoming (Feb. 11) and San Diego State (Feb. 15).
The Aggies will then play three of their final four games of the season on the road with contests at Nevada (Feb. 18), the only matchup against San Jose State (Feb. 25) and the regular season finale at UNLV (March 1). USU will play its final home game on Feb. 25, hosting Air Force for Senior Night.
According to the league, all dates are subject to change with television games yet to be determined. CBS Sports Network and ESPN will initiate a selection procedure, which will include the shifting of Wednesday games to Tuesday and Saturday games to Sunday. The national television selections should be completed by the middle of August.
Regional partner ROOT SPORTS and the Mountain West Network on Campus Insiders will begin their picks after the national television lineup has been announced.
USU has not released its entire schedule.
Three more players have asked for and been granted a release from the program.
Through a release on Tuesday, Duyea announced junior guard Henry Bolton III, sophomore guard John Middleton and junior forward Elston Jones will not be on the 2016-17 team. Bolton is transferring to South Carolina Aiken, Middleton is heading to Valparaiso, while Jones is exploring other options.
“In Division I basketball there is always going to be competition for playing time at every spot,” Duryea said of the departures. “Kids take stock in their futures at the end of every season and make decisions that, they feel, are best for them regarding their basketball futures. We wish these three players success in their next stop.”
Bolton appeared in 38 games over two years at USU, averaging 0.9 points and 0.7 rebounds per game. Middleton appeared in eight games for the Aggies last season after originally being slated to redshirt. He averaged 1.8 points and 0.5 rebounds per game. Jones appeared in 59 games over two years in Logan, starting 10 last season. Overall, Jones averaged 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 49.3 percent from the floor.
The Aggies return three starters and four letterwinners from last season in senior wing Jalen Moore, senior guard Shane Rector, junior guard Julion Pearre and sophomore forward Quinn Taylor. Two redshirts are back in freshman guard Jake Miles and sophomore forward Alexis Dargenton.
The USU roster will be rounded out by seven new additions in guards Koby McEwen (Wasatch Academy), Sam Merrill (Bountiful High School) — returning from an LDS Church Mission in Nicaragua — and Diogo Brito (Mountain Mission HS (Virginia), who is currently playing with the Portugese National Team in European competition. The guard corps will be complimented by four post players, all 6-foot-8 or taller, in Norbert Janicek (Snow College), Klay Stall (Basha HS (Arizona)), Daron Henson (Cathedral HS (California)) and Ngor Barnaba (Missouri State-West Plains).