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No. 25 Utah State aiming even higher against Idaho

No. 25 Utah State aiming even higher against Idaho

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) The Utah State Aggies already have had quite the week.

They went on the road to beat a nationally ranked team in overtime then arrived back in Logan to the cheers of several hundred fans who didn't mind waiting in the rain.

Now, after earning a spot in the AP poll for the first time since 1961, the 25th-ranked Aggies have a chance to make more history in Saturday's regular-season finale against Idaho.

``There are a lot of `nevers' out there,'' said coach Gary Andersen, who was moved to tears after his Aggies beat high-powered Louisiana Tech last weekend to guarantee at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference crown.

``There are a lot of things that they can do that have never happened in the history of Utah State football. That's pretty special.''

The Aggies (9-2, 5-0) can secure the program's first 10-win season and first 6-0 mark in conference play.

Though they are 39-point favorites against Idaho (1-10, 1-4), history has taught Utah State not to take anything for granted.

Last year they needed double-overtime to beat the Vandals in Moscow, prevailing 49-42 on Robert Turbin's 2-yard TD run.

``Idaho is going to come in here prepared to play,'' Andersen said.

Just as the Aggies have much on the line, so do the Vandals, who have played the last three games under interim coach Jason Gesse, who is making a pitch to keep the job.

``Kids want to beat the champion,'' Andersen said. ``It's always a driving force for competitive kids.''

Utah State is eligible to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for the second straight year, but another win conceivably could vault the Aggies to a bigger postseason payout.

``We couldn't ask for much more out of our season, but we still have goals in front of us,'' Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton said of winning the WAC title outright, then a bowl game.

Keeton entered the week ranked 11th in the nation in total offense (321.6 yards per game) and 25th in passing (273.3). Now he faces an Idaho defense that is allowing 42.2 points and 493.3 yards a game. He needs 258 yards passing to break Utah State's single-season record.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham certainly knows what Keeton can do, having lost to the Aggies in early September in a game that saw the sophomore QB complete 22 of 32 passes for 216 yards and two TDs and rush for what then was a career-high 86 yards.

``He is just like the dual-threat quarterbacks we faced this year (in the Pac-12),'' Whittingham said, drawing comparisons to the most recent opposing QB, Arizona's Matt Scott.

``On those zone reads, if (Scott) doesn't have the speed and athleticism to get around the edge, we make the tackle for no gain or (a loss) instead of a ... 20-yard gain,'' Whittingham said. ``That's a huge difference to have that element in your offense. He's surrounded by a good back, good receiver ... it's not just him. But (Keeton) certainly is the catalyst that makes it go.''

The other is senior running back Kerwynn Williams, who ranks 10th in the nation in all-purpose yardage (164.3) and is one of 19 seniors playing his final home game.

Then there's Andersen, who has been asked if Saturday will be his final game as Aggies coach, considering all the times his name pops up for a vacancy.

``I get that 24/7, but my love has been Utah for a long time,'' said Andersen, who recently signed a contract extension to keep him in Logan through 2018.

He said there are no guarantees for anything in life, especially coaching, ``But I love where I'm at and expect to be here for a long period of time.''

Andersen said he knew this was a special group after the 6-3 road loss to Brigham Young before the Aggies went on their five-game winning streak.

``That was a tough loss and the way those kids bounced back and prepared as early as that Monday made me take a step back and realize how much it truly meant to them, how important it was for them to break the huddle every day they walked off the practice field and say `WAC Champs,''' Andersen said.

Now the title is official. The Aggies just want it all by themselves.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

PODCAST: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR SATORANSKY

2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 122-105 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bad matchup: Despite their poor record, there is something about this Charlotte Hornets team that gives the Wizards trouble. The Wizards lost to the Hornets (26-33) for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, they were never really in it.

All in all, it was a dud of a game for the Wizards who were probably due for one. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall got injured. They were also coming off a huge road win the night before in Cleveland, a game that started an hour later than usual.

It was a tough turnaround and the Wizards sure looked like it. It was evident in their defense and unforced errors. They did, however, have a decent shooting night. They shot 49.4 percent from the field 16-for-17 from the free throw line.

The Wizards' second unit didn't provide a lift outside of Kelly Oubre, Jr. (11 points). Mike Scott, one of their best bench options, was held scoreless.

PODCAST: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR SATORANSKY

Ugly first half: The Wizards only trailed by 12 points at halftime, but that score was skewed by a five-point push in the final seconds. The Hornets dominated for much of the first two quarters and did so by hitting threes and forcing turnovers. Those mistakes dug the Wizards a hole they never recovered from.

The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first half, the same amount they had in their entire game the night before. Limiting mistakes was a big reason they beat the Cavaliers, yet the script was flipped by Charlotte.

The Hornets capitalized with 23 points off those 10 first-half turnovers. The Wizards had 14 giveaways for the games that led to 28 total points. 

Charlotte was 7-for-11 from three at one point in the first half and finished 17-for-39 (43.6%) for the game. That is very uncharacteristic for the Wizards, who entered the night second in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage.

Again, though, the first half ended well as Oubre and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a jolt in the final seconds:

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Bad defense: The Wizards have played some great defense in recent weeks, but they just didn't have it on Friday night. Most surprising were the guys that hurt them most.

Dwight Howard was limited to 11 points and six rebounds and Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until the final minute of the first half. But others like Frank Kaminsky (23 points), Marvin Williams (15 points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14 points) got pretty much anything they wanted.

For Walker, it was a tale of two halves. He was held in check by Tomas Satoransky in the first half, but broke out in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Maybe it was tired legs on the Wizards' part, but Walker just kept dribbling until he got space and once he did, he knocked down shots.

Much like Kyle Lowry did a few weeks ago, Walker made adjustments to find success against Satoransky. We haven't seen that happen much since Wall went out, but those two have given him some trouble. Both guys are considerably smaller than Satoransky and very quick. Maybe there's something to that.

Add it all up and this was one of the worst defensive games of the season for the Wizards. They allowed their most points in a game since Jan. 17 against, you guessed it, the Hornets. Only three times this year have they given up more than what they allowed on Friday.

No Sessions: The Wizards did not debut their newest player on Friday night, which was probably to be expected given Ramon Sessions has not had any practice time yet. That is part of why he didn't play, but it's also another indication that he is unlikely to play much with the Wizards. Sessions is on a 10-day contract and is not expected to supplant either Satoransky or Tim Frazier at point guard. Frazier would seem to be the guy in danger of losing minutes, but it was business as usual for him against the Hornets.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before returning to action at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

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