No such thing as a moral victory

One of the many good things about Utah State basketball coach Stew Morrill is he’s not going to sugar-coat a loss, and such was the case following the Aggies’ not-as-close-as-the-score might-indicate loss to Nevada, 85-80, last Monday.
To Morrill, a win in a win and a loss is a loss. There is nothing in between.
Without question, he was happy to see his team show a little moxie and trim Nevada’s 18-point lead to four points in the final minute, but at the same time he realizes there is no column for “moral victories”.
In fact, after the game he said he had no complaints about the Aggies’ effort because his team played hard, but at times, they didn’t play smart.
There is a big difference.
“We lost,” Morrill said. “I’m pleased that we hung in there and didn’t give in, but it’s a loss.”
The Aggies shot a higher percentage and had more rebounds than the Wolf Pack. That’s not saying a whole lot seeing that San Jose State did the same thing to Utah State in the Spartans’ 78-73 loss to the Aggies last Saturday.
Morrill won’t spend much time puffing up his team on how “great” they were down the stretch against Nevada. He’ll tell them about the defensive lapses and turnovers that got them in the bad position to start with.
The Aggies turned the ball over 10 times, which is actually a good number most of the time, but Nevada turned it over just four times and only once in the second half.
Nevada scored 17 points of USU’s miscues, while USU scored just seven off Nevada’s turnovers.
Because of the hole they dug for themselves, the Aggies, who made it a two-possession game in the final minute, were forced to foul. In the last minute the Wolf Pack hit 7 of 8 foul shots. With Utah State’s fouling to try to get back in the game, Nevada finished with 23 attempts to Utah State’s 10.
Jaycee Carroll was good with 29 points – 24 in the second half, but Nevada’s Marcelus Kemp was even better with a career-high 35 points.
By the time Thursday rolls around, the loss to Nevada will be forgotten, and that’s another one of Morrill’s quality coaching traits.
It’s over. It’s done. There’s nothing they can do about it now.
It’s flushed, as Morrill likes to say.
With Hawaii and San Jose State on the horizon, Saturday and Monday, respectively, the Aggies (18-7, 8-2) can’t dwell on the loss.
Utah State still has a one-game lead in the Western Athletic Conference standings and the Aggies will have their work cut out form them if they want to maintain it.
The Aggies haven’t won on the road in Hawaii since joining the WAC, and San Jose State nearly beat the Aggies last week in Logan and last year in San Jose.
“We’ve got a lot more opportunities on the road and it’s going to be just like this on the road in this league,” he said Monday night. “You’ve got find a way and make a few less errors and we wouldn’t have been down as much.”

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