USU will be making its 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance all-time, including its 10th in the last 22 years, when the 11th-seeded Aggies face sixth-seeded Texas Tech in the first round of the South Region on Friday, March 19, in Indianapolis.
Utah State NCAA Tournament Information Packet (PDF)
LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball will be making its 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance all-time, including its 10th in the last 22 years, when the 11th-seeded Aggies face sixth-seeded Texas Tech in the first round of the South Region on Friday, March 19, in Indianapolis. An exact location of the game and start time will be announced Sunday night or Monday morning.
Utah State received an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament for just the third time in school history, joining the 2006 and 2010 teams, that were both 12th seeds.
Utah State (20-8 overall, 15-4 Mountain West) is making its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and last won a game in the NCAA Tournament in 2001, when the 12th-seeded Aggies recorded a 77-68 overtime win against fifth-seeded Ohio State in the first round. USU earned the Mountain West’s automatic bid to the 2020 NCAA Tournament before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Utah State has played in the NCAA Tournament 13 previous times since seedings started in 1980 and this is the third time it has been an 11 seed. Overall, USU has been listed as an eighth seed once (2019), a 10th seed twice (1983, 1988), an 11th seed three times (1980, 2009, 2021), a 12th seed six times (1998, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2010, 2011), a 14th seed once (2005) and a 15th seed once (2003).
Utah State is coming off its third-straight Mountain West Championship game appearance, losing to top-seeded and 19th-ranked San Diego State, 68-57, Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas, Nev., snapping USU’s six-game win streak and denying the Aggies of a third-straight MW Tournament title. USU began the tournament with a 74-53 win against seventh-seeded UNLV in the quarterfinals and then posted a 62-50 win against third-seeded Colorado State in the semifinals.
Entering the NCAA Tournament, Utah State has an NCAA Men’s Basketball NET Ranking of 39, an overall strength of schedule of 95, 10 wins away from home with a 7-3 road record and a 2-3 mark on neutral courts, and a 2-5 record against Quad 1 teams with a pair of wins against San Diego State (57-45, 64-59). USU also has a 2-1 record against Quad 2 opponents, a 7-2 record against Quad 3 opponents, and an 8-0 record against Quad 4 opponents.
This will be the first time that Utah State and Texas Tech will be playing one another in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, the series is tied at 2-2 as the two teams last faced one another in 2016.
Texas Tech is 17-10 on the season and tied for sixth in the Big 12 Conference after posting a 9-8 league mark. The Red Raiders, who are 6-6 away from home this season, are riding a two-game losing streak after losing at Baylor, 88-73, in their regular season finale and to Texas, 67-66, in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. Texas Tech is led by junior guard Mac McClung, who is averaging 15.7 points per game, while sophomore guard Terrence Shannon, Jr. is averaging 12.7 points, redshirt sophomore guard Kevin McCullar is averaging 10.1 points and junior guard Kyler Edwards is averaging 10.0 points per game.
Utah State has three players averaging double figures in scoring in junior center Neemias Queta (Nuh-me-ish Kay-tah), a first-team all-Mountain West selection and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, junior forward Justin Bean, a second-team all-MW selection and redshirt junior guard Marco Anthony, who was named to the league’s all-defensive team. Queta is averaging 15.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 29.6 minutes per game, while shooting 55.7 percent (162-of-291) overall and 71.0 (98-of-138) from the free throw line. Bean is averaging 11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 26.9 minutes per game, while shooting 51.6 percent (126-of-244) overall, 23.8 percent (10-of-42) from3-point range and 83.3 percent (55-of-66) at the free throw line. And, Anthony is averaging 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.9 steals in 31.8 minutes per game, while shooting 41.0 percent (97-of-238) overall, 34.4 percent (21-of-61) from 3-point range and 61.8 (55-of-89) from the free throw line.
Despite having just three players average double-digit points, Utah State has two more players that are averaging nearly 9.0 points per game in freshman guard Rollie Worster (9.2 ppg) and junior guard Brock Miller (8.9 ppg), while senior forward Alphonso Anderson (6.8 ppg), the Mountain West’s Sixth Man of the Year, and freshman guard Steven Ashworth (6.3 ppg), both average over 6.0 points per game.
Queta and Bean were also both named to the Mountain West all-tournament team, as Queta averaged 18.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game, while shooting 50.0 percent from the field (17-of-34) and 90.9 percent at the free throw line (20-of-22), while Bean averaged 11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game, while shooting 60.0 percent from the field (12-of-20), 50.0 percent from 3-point range (1-of-2) and 83.3 percent at the free throw line (10-of-12).
Utah State head coach Craig Smith is 74-23 (.763) in his three seasons with the Aggies. Smith is the first coach in school history to lead USU to an NCAA Tournament berth in each of his first three years.
Utah State has four players on its current roster with NCAA Tournament appearance as Miller and Queta both started against Washington in 2019, while Bean came off the bench. Furthermore, Anthony was a member of Virginia’s 2019 National Championship team. Miller scored 13 points and had five rebounds against the Huskies, while Queta had 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, and Bean had six points and five rebounds.
The winner of the Utah State-Texas Tech game will play the winner of third-seeded Arkansas and 14th-seeded Colgate on Sunday, March 21.
Fans should stay tuned to www.UtahStateAggies.com as well as its social media platforms at @USUBasketball for complete NCAA Tournament information, including game time announcement.
COURTESY UTAH STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS