Utah St. Aggies vs. Fresno St. Bulldogs Pick & Prediction JANUARY 20th 2024

Utah State will look to regain momentum with big games ahead when the Mountain West Conference co-leading Aggies host Fresno State on Saturday afternoon in Logan, Utah.

The Aggies (16-2, 4-1), whose No. 16 national ranking figures to fall after the team’s 99-86 loss at New Mexico on Tuesday, will take the court Saturday tied with San Diego State at 4-1 in the conference standings.

Utah State will travel to both Boise State and San Diego State the next two Saturdays.

For now, the Aggies hope to enjoy being at home, where they have gone 8-0 this season, including 2-0 in Mountain West play. Utah State beat Colorado State, which was ranked 13th at the time, 77-72 at home earlier this month.

“We know it’s going to get harder, and we know that adversity is going to come,” said Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle, whose team saw a 15-game winning streak end at New Mexico.

While noting that the Aggies’ fans were probably more excited about the streak and the national ranking than the players, he then added, “So, if we’re ranked at the end of the year, then we’ll celebrate that.”

In Fresno State, the Aggies will see a California team for the fifth time this season. They have dispatched the previous four, winning home games against UC Irvine and San Diego, beating Santa Clara on the road and topping San Francisco at a neutral site.

Two of the Aggies’ top players surely are familiar with California competition, with Ian Martinez having played at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, while Darius Brown II played at Pasadena High.

Martinez, the team’s second-leading scorer at an average of 13.6 points per game, led the way against Santa Clara on Dec. 13 with a season-best 28 points before scoring 20 against San Francisco three days later. Brown, who averages 10.7 points, had 23 points in the win at Santa Clara.

Fresno State (8-9, 1-3) rebounded from a three-game losing streak to break into the conference win column with a dramatic 85-82 home win over San Jose State on Tuesday.

The victory came following the disappointment of a 68-67 defeat at Wyoming last Saturday.

As the scores would indicate, both games went down to the wire. Three days after he was guarding Akuel Kot as the Wyoming star nailed a buzzer-beating jumper, Fresno State senior Isaiah Hill got an opportunity at the other end against San Jose State and buried a tie-breaking 3-pointer as time expired to cap a 24-point night.

“My teammates wanted me to have that ball because they knew I would make the right play for us to win,” noted Hill, whose basket with seven seconds left had given the Bulldogs a one-point lead at Wyoming before Kot’s heroics in the previous game. “I’m just blessed to have a coaching staff believe in me and teammates that believe in me.”

Hill leads Fresno State in scoring with an average of 12.9 points per game.

–Field Level Media

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