It may have been a long flight home late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, but the Aggies were in good spirits.
As they should have been.
Utah State - which moved up in both polls Monday - had just issued a beat down like none Louisiana Tech had endured in its history. Plus, the Aggies had swept another two-game road trip - the third time this season - to conclude the 2010-11 regular season.
It was ugly at times, but when the Aggies were clicking, they looked really good. Sure, the Bulldogs have had a rough year, but I watched them push Nevada to the final seconds a few days earlier in a three-point loss. Any conference road win is good.
This past road swing through the Land of Enchantment and the Bayou State is never easy. All we have to do is reflect back to last year, when USU dropped both of those games. The Aggies got it done on defense, which is not surprising because that has been an area this team has been solid in all season long.
Last Wednesday at New Mexico State, USU held the crimson-clad Aggies to just 54 points. That is more than 18 points below NMSU's season average and 19.5 points below what they were scoring in Western Athletic Conference games.
But that's nothing compared to what USU did at LTU. The Bulldogs scored a measly 30 points in 40 minutes of action. They were consistent, scoring 15 in each half.
How bad did it get for LTU? The Bulldogs scored just three points through 14 minutes of action last Saturday. They doubled that output with a three-point play.
The 30 points were the fewest the Bulldogs have ever scored in a game and was more than 35 points below their season average. Sure, LTU struggled in the shooting department and had 20 turnovers, but a lot of that frustration was because of how well this Aggie team plays D.
They say defense wins championships. That certainly is the case with this Aggie team.
USU continues to be one of the best defensive teams in the country as it currently ranks third in the nation in scoring defense (58.0), fifth in field goal percentage defense (.383), sixth in scoring margin (+14.4) and seventh in rebound margin (+8.2).
Defense will continue to be a focus later this week when the Aggies head to the WAC Tournament. I expect some more stifling performances by USU, as it really has made defense a top priority. Of course that is expected when head coach Stew Morrill stresses that part of the game so much.
Oh, the Aggies can score and do, averaging 72.5 points a game. But they really hang their hat on defense, especially this team.
No laughing matter
Morrill was asked on Sunday if his team had to win this week to make the Big Dance. Some publications and networks have already called the Aggies a lock for making the NCAA Tournament.
After laughing for a moment, Morrill answered: "All you do is win a game, then you got to win the next one, then you got to win the next one. It gets a little bit old to be honest with you.
"It was like, OK, the Aggies need to win at Saint Mary's, that'll show people this and that. We did that, but it wasn't enough. We've got to get back at Idaho, then we've got to sweep this road trip. The best thing we can do is keep playing hard, keep trying to focus on winning the game we're going to play."
Now that is a standard reply by the coach. But he also brought up a few other points.
"When you look at all the things that happen, our RPI, we're 15-1 (in league play) and our national ranking, you would like to think that means more than one possible loss. But who knows? I've seen both sides. We'll get excited and get ready to go play the tournament."
Yes, the Aggies have been snubbed before. They were the first nationally ranked team to be left out of the Big Dance after losing in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament in 2004. I'm thinking this team is not going to take any chances and will most definitely be focused and ready to play come Friday.
Top 25 updates
The two Top 25 polls released their latest rankings on Monday and for the seventh straight week USU is ranked.
The Aggies moved up from No. 25 to 23 in The Associated Press poll and from 21 to 17 in the USA Today/ESPN poll. USU was No. 17 last month in the USA Today/ESPN poll, which is the highest they have ever been in that one.
I expected the Aggies to move up, but figured they would be at 21 or 20 in the AP poll. For whatever reason, USU doesn't seem to impress the writers as much has they do the coaches, who make up most of the USA Today/ESPN poll.
Williams left out
USU deserved to have multiple players receive all-WAC honors. You win your conference by five games, and the post-season accolades should follow.
There was one missing name, however. Senior guard Pooh Williams should have made the all-defensive team.
"I remember last year when I congratulated the kids," Morrill said. "I was very strong about telling them a mistake was made when Tyler (Newbold) was left off. I will do the same about Pooh, because I feel the same way."
How does the best defensive team in the league have just one player on the all-defensive team? It's really too bad, because Williams belongs on that team.
Family bragging rights
With being named WAC Player of the Year on Sunday, does little brother Tai Wesley have some bragging rights now?
His older brother Mekeli Wesley was tabbed the Mountain West Player of the Year in 2001.
"I don't know," Tai said. "(Mekeli) called me earlier and was wondering. I'm sure I will brag a little bit."
I'm sure he will, too. But I also know that Tai will not let this go to his head. He has some unfinished business, first helping the Aggies win the WAC Tournament.
I have to take one more jab at the nonsense last Wednesday night in Las Cruces, N.M.
A pillow fight, really? The court is for basketball.
Yes, I know there needs to be promotions. That's all part of marketing and trying to get more people in the seats. Still, the court is for basketball and should be treated as such.
The idiot(s) that introduced pie to the halftime pillow fight that covered most of the court was real smart. What if a player from either team would have been hurt?
It's a small miracle Newbold didn't have a serious injury after going down twice when he ran into some pie that hadn't been cleaned up.
"I don't know what it was," Newbold said. "It didn't look wet, but there was a play where I slipped twice on the same possession. It hurt my elbow. It was really slick."
Perhaps pillow fights should be kept in the stands in the future.