Utah State at Air Force; Preview, Prediction, and more. Can the Aggies add another road win?

Utah State at Air Force; Preview, Prediction, and more. Can the Aggies add another road win?

Air Force

Utah State at Air Force; Preview, Prediction, and more. Can the Aggies add another road win?

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Can Air Force end their losing streak?


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The Aggies head to Colorado Springs

Game: Utah State at Air Force

Time: 3 EST

TV: None

Stream: Mountain West Network

Odds: Utah State -13  

Air Force (7-4) looked like the most pleasant surprise in the Mountain West, beginning the season with a 7-1 record. Since the smoldering start, the Falcons dropped three consecutive games and haven’t cracked the 50-point mark in any of those games. Joe Scott teams take a ton of threes with the Princeton offensive principles; they haven’t hit those shots in recent games, making less than 30 percent of their deep shots during the losing streak. Leading scorer A.J. Walker scored six points in two of the last three, while freshman Jake Heidbreder eclipsed double-digits twice.

Only two years ago, Air Force’s Ryan Swan scored 31 points in Colorado Springs, as they stunned Sam Merrill’s Utah State squad. Will we see a repeat of that stunning performance, or will Utah State get a little bit of road revenge?

How can Air Force win the game?

Simply put — the Falcons have to make threes. I mentioned the shooting struggles earlier, but they won’t beat this Aggies team without making shots. Coach Scott runs a four-guard lineup with Lucas Moreman/Nikc Jackson splitting time at the five — the lack of size could prove problematic against Utah State’s loaded frontline.

The Aggies look strong:

There were questions about Utah State in the first year-post Craig Smith era. Those questions are no longer a question, as Ryan Odom’s brought Aggies wins over Richmond, Oklahoma & Weber State. A third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance is a real possibility. 

Justin Bean looks like a legitimate All-American candidate — the former walk-on leads the team with 19.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Bean made 10 threes in his three years prior to 2021 but already made 19 as a senior. Adding that extra element to Bean’s game makes him tough to gameplan against. Bean also had shot-swatter Neemias Queta aside from him before — now another floor-stretcher Brandon Horvath from UMBC, helps give Bean more perimeter looks.

Utah transfer Rylan Jones averages over six assists per game as the facilitator of the second-best offense in the league. When Rollie Worster transferred to Utah, things looked bleak at the lead guard spot — but adding Jones changed USU’s season. That offense shoots 39.3 percent from deep, which ranks top-15 nationally. At almost all times, the Aggies deploy five shooters on the floor, keeping the defense on their heels.

It’s worth noting — R.J. Eytle-Rock and Brock Miller missed the Portland State game with injuries, and there’s no current status update. Steven Ashworth and Max Shulga replaced them in the starting lineup — Shulga dropped a career-best 17 points in the win over Portland State.

Prediction:

Utah State 75

Air Force 56

On the positive side, Air Force reaches the 50-point marker once again. On the other side, Utah State is the vastly better team in all facets of the game. It would be a complete stunner, and a loss that would be trouble for the USU’s NCAA Tournament hopes.


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