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Utah State and Fresno State Clash in a Key Mountain West Tilt

The Utah State Aggies try to extend their three-game winning streak when they visit the Fresno State Bulldogs for a Mountain West Conference contest on Saturday night. Utah State (17-7) is currently tied for second place in the conference standings with Colorado State at 14-4. The Rams’ regular season has ended, while this is the Aggies’ final regular-season contest.

These teams played the first of two scheduled games on Feb. 4, which was a 69-53 Utah State victory. The second game was postponed to Saturday night. Utah State also had two subsequent games postponed as well.

Deshon Taylor shoots against Neemias Queta Utah State Fresno State
David Becker/Getty Images/AFP

Fresno State (11-10) comes into this one off a win at Boise State on Tuesday. The Bulldogs have won two of three and are 9-10 in conference play, sitting in sixth place in the standings.

If you’re doing some online betting on this contest, Utah State is a nine-point favorite on the road, with the over/under set at 132½.

Feeling At Home

Utah State has dominated, winning eight of the last nine against the Bulldogs, including each of the last four games played in Fresno. The earlier meeting was also in Fresno, and the Aggies had no trouble taking that contest.

Junior center Neemias Queta has been dominant inside, averaging 14.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists. The 7-footer is also a major presence on the defensive end, averaging 2.9 blocks and 1.2 steals per contest.

Queta is one of just six players since the 1992-93 season to average more than 14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game, joining players like Tim Duncan and Chris Webber in that group. And he’s turned it up as we get closer to NCAA March Madness, averaging 23.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.6 blocks per game over the last five games.

Utah State is also getting improved play from junior forward Justin Bean, who has double-doubles in his last three outings. Over the last two games, Bean is averaging 19.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.

Needing Better

If the Bulldogs are going to make college basketball news by pulling an upset in this one, they must play better offensively than the first meeting. Fresno State failed to have a player score in double figures in the first loss to Utah State, shooting 37% from the field, including 21.1% from 3-point range.

Orlando Robinson led the way with eight points, but he was just 2-of-9 from the field and finished with four turnovers. The 7-foot sophomore forward has been the main catalyst for the Bulldogs’ offense, averaging 14.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

Sophomore guard Deon Stroud is the team’s other double-figure scorer, contributing 12.4 points per game. The Bulldogs’ best shooters are sophomore guard Isaiah Hill (9.8 points, team-high 3.2 assists per game, 31 3-pointers) and junior guard Junior Ballard (30 3-pointers), who will need to be making their open looks to make it easier for Robinson to operate inside.

The shooters have been connecting of late, which has coincided with the team’s two wins in its last three games. Over that three-game span, the Bulldogs have connected on double-digit 3-pointers in each game.

More Scoring

The first meeting saw Fresno State manage just 53 points in a 16-point loss to Utah State. With Robinson and Stroud leading the way, we see the Bulldogs closing the regular season with a better point total than that one.

That’s  not saying Fresno State is going to win. In fact, we think the Aggies pull this one out, but it will be a higher-scoring affair than the first meeting.

When making your college basketball picks, take Utah State to win and cover on the road.

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