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Utah hires Utah State’s Craig Smith as basketball coach

NCAA Basketball: Mountain West Conference Tournament- San Diego St vs Utah St

Mar 13, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Utah State Aggies head coach Craig Smith looks on against the San Diego State Aztecs during the first half at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has hired Utah State’s Craig Smith as its men’s basketball coach.

The school announced Saturday that Smith will replace Larry Krystkowiak, who was fired this month.

Smith turned Utah State into one of the nation’s best mid-major programs in a short span, leading the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament twice in three years. Utah State won the Mountain West Conference Tournament title in 2020, but didn’t get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Utah State won the MWC Tournament again this season and won 20 games before losing 65-53 to Texas Tech in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Smith has been an adept recruiter in Logan, bringing in players like Sam Merrill, now with the NBA’s Boston Celtics, and Portuguese big man Neemias Queta.

He previously coached four seasons at South Dakota before being hired by Utah State in 2018.

Utah State fired Krystkowiak on March 16 after he went 183-139 during 10 seasons in Salt Lake City.