Aggies thump Simon Fraser in opener, but coach not happy
By Wade Denniston
The Utah State University men's basketball team began its season with a 78-57 victory Saturday night at the Spectrum over Simon Fraser University, but Aggie head coach Stew Morrill wasn't too pleased with his team's performance.
"We played horrible this week," Morrill said. "I thought we defended for a few minutes and then quit defending. There wasn't a whole lot out there that I liked, to be honest with you.
"Simon Fraser played a lot better than they did (Friday night), that's what their coach (Scott Clark) said, but there might be a reason for that," Morrill said. "It might be the way we played.
"I knew after getting thumped last night that they'd show up and play better, and I thought they did."
However, Morrill also mentioned a couple of bright spots. "Dimitri (Jorssen) would be a positive," Morrill said. "Troy Rolle's effort, trying to get us going would be a positive."
In 23 minutes of playing time, Jorssen netted 14 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the field, and 4-of-5 from the free throw line, while pulling down seven rebounds and swatting two shots.
"We all tried to come out and play hard, and I think we did that, at times," Jorssen said.
Rolle contributed with a team-high 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting, 2-for-4 from beyond the three-point line in 21 minutes of action.
Utah State opened the scoring by netting the first four points of the game on Jorssen and Rolle baskets.
Simon Fraser cut the lead to one on two occasions in the early going, 4-3 on senior guard Dave Wahl's three-pointer, and 6-5 on junior Andrew Kwiatkowski's layup with 17:12 to go in the first half.
That would be as close as the Clan would come the rest of the evening as the Aggies slowly pulled away.
Utah State used runs of seven and nine points to open up a 32-17 first-half lead with 5:25 left.
Simon Fraser ended the first half on an 11-8 run, cutting USU's lead to 40-28.
"The first half was close, but I think it could've been closer," Clark said. "We gave up some layups and I thought our defensive post position wasn't very good."
An 11-0 run to start the second half by the Aggies put them up 51-28 with 17:09 to go in the game.
"Coach really got on us at halftime and we came out in the second half and we did pretty good for the first five minutes," said USU junior forward Shawn Daniels, who joined Rolle and Jorssen as the only other Aggie to score in double figures with 10 points.
Utah State continued to pour it on as it opened up a 30-point lead with 5:00 to play.
But the Aggies became sloppy down the stretch and the Clan were able to finish the game on a 12-3 run.
"We're up 75-45 and then we just turn it over and end up 78-57," Morrill said. "Well, that's lack of maturity. That's not taking care of the ball. That's relaxing, not concentrating."
Although the Aggies shot 50 percent in the game, it was the six second-half turnovers that led to nine overall, which had Morrill upset.
"We turned it over too many times, at silly times," Morrill said. USU was able to shut down Simon Fraser's go-to man, senior forward Richard Anderson, who scored just 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field, 2-of-5 from the line, and eight rebounds.
"That's one thing we really emphasized," Morrill said of defending Anderson. "(The University of) New Mexico felt like he was a starter for them. If you saw, we were really helping a lot on him."
The Aggies are now 6-0 all-time vs. the Clan, all of which have been season openers for USU dating back to the 1994 season. The Aggies have also won 39 of its last 41 home games.
Utah State will return to action Nov. 22-24 when it participates in
the Maui Invitational in Hawaii.