Tale of two ‘Aggies’ as No. 17 Utah St. hosts NC A&T

NCAA Basketball
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The North Carolina A&T Aggies face an imposing challenge on Friday night, when they visit the nationally-ranked Utah State Aggies in Logan, Utah.

There are several differences between these two sets of Aggies, but the one that jumps out the most is perimeter shooting.

No. 17 Utah State is coming off a strong offensive performance earlier this week. On Tuesday night, the unbeaten Aggies (3-0) defeated the Denver Pioneers, 97-56, thanks to a strong team performance highlighted by a fantastic display from sophomore guard Brock Miller.

The 6-foot-5 guard from Sandy, Utah, scored a career-high 27 points on 7-of-15 shooting from 3-point range, helping USU stay undefeated.

“These guys were able to find open looks for me, wide open. All of us were able to share the ball with each other and get it going early,” Miller said.

In addition to Miller, senior guard Sam Merrill provided a boost to the Utah State offense by scoring in double figures with 14 points. He also had five assists and three rebounds.

As a team, Utah State shot 47.8 percent from the field and 46.7-percent from 3-point range. The Aggies’ 14 made 3-pointers against Denver, tying the single-game mark for the second-most in school history.

Overall, Utah State is shooting 40 percent from long distance this season.

“You want to be able to score from all three levels,” Utah State head coach Craig Smith said. “You want to be able to shoot the three, have a good mid-range game, and be able to score in the paint. Shooting can be contagious at times. I think we have a good shooting team. That should be a strength of ours all year.”

North Carolina A&T (1-2), out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, is coming off a 26-point loss on Tuesday night at West Carolina (90-64). N.C. A&T had no answer for Catamount junior guard Mason Faulkner, who totaled 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

North Carolina A&T senior forward Ronald Jackson led the way for his team with 10 points and five rebounds. Jackson was the only bright spot for N.C. A&T, which struggled on the perimeter.

Western Carolina shot 53.6 percent from 3-point range. North Carolina A&T, however, shot only 14.3 percent (2 of 14) from 3-point range.

“We did a poor job guarding the 3-point line,” said N.C. A&T coach Jay Joyner. “We didn’t compete for 40 minutes. We have to continue to work to get better.”

If N.C. A&T wants to pull off the upset on Friday over Utah State, the perimeter is where the visitors from the MEAC must improve to a considerable degree. That is a tough task in itself. Utah State’s defensive length on the perimeter will make it harder for North Carolina A&T to consistently get clean looks.

— Field Level Media

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