RENO - Much of the attention in tonight's Nevada-Utah State basketball game will be centered around the matchup between the Aggies' Jaycee Carroll and Pack stopper Kyle Shiloh.
Carroll comes into the game (7:05 p.m. tip-off) averaging 21 points a contest, and it's no secret that Shiloh, the team's best on-the-ball defender, will get the initial defensive assignment.
It's like World War II when they face off, and Shiloh, at least last year, got the better of the talented Utah State guard. Carroll was held to seven, four and 19 points in the three games last season, and shot just 28 percent overall.
Shiloh said last year that Carroll is one of the toughest guards he goes against, and obviously his opinion hasn't changed.
"He never stops running," Shiloh said. "I just try to chase him in and around screens the best I can. I know I'm tired at the end whenever we play them because so much of their offense goes through him. He's a good shooter."
And Carroll looks forward to the challenge. He has a healthy amount of respect for Nevada's top defensive guard.
"I'm excited to play against him," Caroll said during a mid-week press conference in Logan, Utah. "I'm sure he will be chasing me around all game. I didn't play very well against them last year. Nevada were not good games for me personally, but our team stepped up and played well here (Reno) last year. I'm excited to go and try and redeem myself, prove something.
"His discipline, the way he avoids screens...he does a very good job of not getting screened. With their team such a solid defensive team, someone steps in and gets in my way if I do get a step."
Utah State coach Stew Morrill said that he has to find ways to get Carroll good scoring opportunities.
"We need him to score," Morrill said. "It's not like there is a magical solution. If there had been, we would have done it last year. They have a very good defender who takes a lot of pride in trying to guard Jaycee. His deal is to get right on the side of Jaycee and stick right with him and that makes it very hard to screen him."
Nevada won two of three against the Aggies last year. Utah State grabbed a 59-53 win in Reno, and Nevada returned the favor with a 75-57 win in Logan. Nevada beat the Aggies 70-63 in overtime in the Western Athletic Conference championship game.
"They are a terrific team," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "They have won 15 games already. They are a very good basketball team. They are playing a smaller lineup than last year."
The Aggies' biggest player is 6-foot-8 Stephen DuCharme, who is averaging 10 a game, and he's paired in the frontcourt with 6-7 Chaz Spicer, giving Nevada a slight edge in height up front. Athletic Durrall Peterson and Carroll are at the wings and Kris Clark is at point guard.
No doubt Utah State will look to put Nevada into some mismatch problems with its quickness while Nevada hopes to use its height advantage up front, especially with All-American forward Nick Fazekas (19.9 ppg, 11.4 rpg).
"He's a much stronger rebounder, a lot more physical," Morrill said. "Everything I hear, he went from a second-round pick to a first-round pick without much question. He can face up and shoot. He's 7 -foot and dominating the boards. We had a guy last year (Cass Matheus) who could guard him. It's going to be a whole different challenge this year with the size of our guys. They better understand how physical they're going to have to be to even have a chance to compete.
"We kind of made the game ugly there (Reno). I'm sure that they're reminding their guys that we came in and won a year ago. It's a totally different situation. I'm sure after the loss to New Mexico State, they'll be ready for whoever they play. And they are talented."
• Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281