“It’s unreal,” said 6-foot-7 senior forward Tai Wesley, who leads Utah State with a 14.3 scoring average. “It is crazy. The floor is shaking when we’re making big plays or fighting back into a game or going on a big run. It’s electric. Hands are swaying, the music’s going, the crowd is yelling. It’s definitely one of most fun places to play in the nation.”
It’s also one of the toughest.
Utah State has won 15 straight overall, the third-longest active streak in the country behind Ohio State (22) and Coastal Carolina (18).
But that looks paltry compared to the Aggies’ home record.
Utah State has won 26 consecutive home games, the third-longest active streak behind Duke (31) and Kentucky (29). Overall, the Aggies have won 78 of their last 80 home games. They have won a school-record 28 straight Western Athletic Conference home games, with the last home conference loss coming March 3, 2007, against Fresno State.
Utah State’s only two losses this season have come against ranked opponents, on the road. The Aggies lost 78-72 on Nov. 17 at BYU when the Cougars were ranked No. 23, and 68-51 on Dec. 4 at Georgetown, when the Hoyas were ranked No. 14.
“That’s one game we all wish we had back,” said Wesley, who verbally committed to BYU only to have his scholarship fall apart. “It was a heartbreaker game. We played them tough, down to the wire, at their place.”
Now the Cougars are 20-2, ranked No. 9 and “Jimmermania” is in full swing as All-America point guard Jimmer Fredette continues to put up big numbers.
“We don’t like BYU; it’s not a secret,” Wesley admits. “But Jimmer Fredette is not one of those guys you just hate on the court. He’s not a punk. So anything he’s getting right now, we’re happy for him. If he was a punk on the court, it would be different, but he’s a class act, and you’ve got to respect that.”
Are the Aggies getting the respect they deserve?
“That’s kind of a touchy subject,” Wesley said. “At times I don’t think we get the respect. I don’t want to say we like that, but we’re used to it. We’re used to being the underdog in the national perspective. We’re OK with that.”
It’s why Morrill tries not to get too excited about rankings.
“You’ve got to win a boatload of games to even get considered, then if you lose one, you’re out,” he said. “That’s why you don’t want to take it too seriously. It’s fun. The kids should feel good about it and they should try to make it last by not losing.”