USU basketball schedule set for preseason tourney

June 24, 2016 GMT

Two days after finding out its conference schedule, the Utah State men’s basketball team now knows its opponents for the Cancun Challenge.

The Aggies already knew some of the potential matchups, but the complete field for the tournament was announced Thursday. In addition to Texas Tech, Auburn and Purdue joining USU in the Riviera Division, Idaho State, Georgia State, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Eastern Kentucky will make up the Mayan Division for the tournament hosted in Cancun, Mexico, Nov. 22 and 23.

Before heading to Mexico, part of the tournament is played at sites of schools going. The Aggies will host NJIT on Nov. 14, then welcome a familiar foe to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Idaho State on Nov. 19.

Once south of the border, USU take on Purdue on Nov. 22. The final game of the tournament for the Aggies will be against either Texas Tech or Auburn on Nov. 23.


USU head coach Tim Duryea likes getting into tournaments like the Cancun Challenge, as it helps the Aggies get two games against top-tier conferences and also brings two opponents to Logan.

The last time USU played in a tournament like this was in 2007 at the South Padre Island tournament. The Aggies lost to Vanderbilt, then bounced back and beat Iowa. They recorded two home wins before heading to the southeastern tip of Texas.

This fall in the Cancun Challenge, the opener could be interesting. The Highlanders advanced to the semifinals of the CIT in back-to-back years, falling to Northern Arizona, 68-61, in 2015 and 80-65 to Columbia in 2016. NJIT made headlines for the wrong reasons in 2008 when the Highlanders snapped an NCAA-record 51-game losing streak. NJIT returned to the headlines in 2014, when the Highlanders upset No. 17 Michigan, 72-70, in Ann Arbor.

Idaho State has appeared on USU’s schedule each of the past two seasons with the Aggies posting a 69-58 victory during the 2015-16 campaign and a 69-56 win over the Bengals during the 2014-15 season. USU is currently riding a 16-game winning streak against ISU, dating back to the 1982-83 season.

The game against the Boilermakers on Nov. 22 will be the first in program history for the Aggies. USU is 11-16 all-time against members of the Big Ten, including a memorable 77-68 victory over Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2001. USU last faced a Big Ten foe in 2007, falling to Michigan, 68-58, in the first round of the NIT.