Aggie Battle: What Utah State Has To Do To Beat Texas A&M

Kraig WilliamsContributor IMarch 19, 2010

BOISE, ID - MARCH 20:  The Utah State Aggies huddle prior to their game against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Taco Bell Arena on March 20, 2009 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Utah State Aggies have been one of the NCAA's most consistent teams over the last decade, winning at least 23 games each season and making the NCAA or NIT Tournament every post season. 

With all these regular season accolades, one thing has been missing: Success in the post season.

In 2001 the Aggies pulled the always popular 12-5 upset over Ohio State 77-68, but since then its been a series of close calls against great teams.

It started with a three point loss in the first round to eventual runner-up Kansas in 2003.

Then they fell apart late to Arizona in 2005; hung close with Brandon Roy's Washington team in 2006; most recently, a one point heart breaker to Marquette in last years tournament.

So what can Utah State do to become the next Butler or the next Gonzaga?

The answer is simple: Win in the postseason.

Texas A&M is a fantastic Big 12 team and will be a mighty test for Utah State, but if they are to pull the upset here are the keys to the game:

#1 Shoot the 3-ball well

Utah State finished third in the nation in 3-point % at 41.9%. In the WAC championship game against New Mexico State; however, USU only shot 25% (4-16). 

If Utah State only shoots 25% from deep against Texas A&M it will be an uphill battle.

Texas A&M was a little better than average at defending the 3 during the season (33% against ranked 115th nationally) so this could be an area to exploit for USU.

#2 Bench production

Last year in the NCAA tournament the Aggies were admittedly a little shocked by the bright lights of the big dance and came out scared.

As a result only six players scored, and three of those players only made one basket.  The Aggies can't expect to be on the positive side of things if only three players contribute again this year.

Brian Green and Brady Jardine must be big off the bench, and role players like Pooh Williams and Tyler Newbold need to hit their open jumpers.

#3 Defend Donald Sloan

Texas A&M is a very balanced team, so taking away one player isn't going to take the Texas Aggies out of their game, but it will sure help. 

Pooh Williams is Utah State's best defender, and would have been voted the WAC's best defender if the award existed.  He shut down scorers like Armon Johnson, Jahmar Young, Adrian Oliver, Jimmer Fredette, and Kyle Gibson.

Adding Donald Sloan's scalp to the list could mean Utah State would survive to see Sunday.