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Today's word on journalism

February 17, 2009

Why I miss my hate mail:

"It's an odd thing to admit, but in a perverse sort of way, I actually miss the wretched river, the rancid flow of puerile, nasty, sickeningly homophobic email I used to receive on a regular basis from the ultra-right and the Christian right and the Mormon right and the Bush-impaired whenever I would post a friendly, pointed column full of tangy liberal attitude. . . . . Oh, I miss all the lovely and positive email too, which outpaced the nasty stuff by a huge margin. But the hate mail was very special indeed, great fodder for live readings, for the reaction of horrified disbelief of anyone who saw it, for the charming reminder of just how ugly and violent and grammatically challenged the human animal can be."

--Mark Morford, columnist, (2/13/09)

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Wesley leads USU to 12th consecutive victory

By Tim Olsen

January 22, 2009 | The Utah State men's basketball was impressive early and even more impressive down the stretch as the Aggies pulled away from the Boise State Broncos Saturday night to remain unbeaten at home, 79-65.

For the second straight game USU's leading scorer, Gary Wilkinson, was held in check, but the Aggies' other post presence, Tai Wesley, made up for it in a big way. Wesley finished with 26 points, one shy of matching his career high, on 9-of-12 shooting to lead all scorers.

"We came out tonight and we were excited and ready," USU head coach Stew Morrill said. "It's nice that we can win a basketball game without Gary having a great night. That should be reassuring to all of our players that we can do that."

Junior sharpshooter Jared Quayle got things started for the Aggies as he nailed a three-pointer just over 30 seconds in. Tyler Newbold joined in the action as well, knocking down his first couple shots as the Ags jumped out to a 12-3 lead.

However, the Broncos, 12-4 on the season coming into the matchup and coming off their first loss in more than a month, would fight back.

Junior guard Anthony Thomas drained a three-pointer with 11:15 to play in the first half, knotting the game at 17. Minutes later, the Broncos took their first lead when sophomore forward Paul Noonan joined in the long-range barrage, putting Boise State up 24-22.

Thomas, who was relentlessly hounded by Aggie fans throughout the game because of remarks he made after the Broncos' upset USU in last year's WAC tournament, would struggle the rest of the game and finish well below his season average. He finished with five points and two turnovers on 1-of-6 shooting.

Shortly after the Broncos took the lead, the Aggies responded and again jumped out in front. Quayle and Wesley each completed a three-point-play the old-fashioned way, and the Ags went on a 10-0 run to push the lead back to nine.

Boise State worked to close the gap before halftime, but a crazy series of events in the final seconds sent the Aggies into the locker room leading by double digits, 43-33.

With the Broncos holding for the last shot, freshman guard Jaxon Myaer was whistled for a foul with 8.1 seconds to play. The foul was USU's eighth, and sent Thomas to the free throw line for the Broncos. Thomas missed the front end of the one-and-one situation, and that's when the real craziness ensued.

Wesley grabbed the rebound for the Aggies and drove to the other end of the court. As he was working for the final shot, Thomas stripped the ball but was unable to corral it. The loose ball bounced right back to Wesley who launched a prayer from just inside the half-court line as the buzzer sounded. The Spectrum erupted as the ball found nothing but net and sent the elated Aggies into the break up by 10.

On the season Wesley is shooting a phenomenal 66.1 percent from the floor, good for No. 17 in the nation, but after his prayer was answered against the Broncos, he joked that he should be given more freedom from beyond the arc.

"I think coach would let me start shooting them more," Wesley said about 3-pointers. "He should give me the green light. I'm going to have to talk to him about that."

The bomb made him 1-of-1 from three-point land on the season, and 2-of-2 for his Aggie career -- or 100 percent.

"Jaycee (Carroll) should call me for tips. I'm a pretty good tip giver too," Wesley added with a smile.

Similar to the first half, the second half was a half of runs. Boise was able to pull even with the Aggies early in the period only to see USU extend its lead back to 10 with just over 10 minutes to play.

"We just came out with an edge to us, excited, energized and ready to play," Morrill said. "It's like I told them before the game, 'If you can't go enjoy playing college basketball in front of that crowd, in that environment, you've probably got the heart of a hummingbird.' That's not a very big heart -- it took them a minute to get that one."

Unlike previous games this season though, the Aggies did not allow the Broncos to hang around any longer. Wesley kept pounding away inside and a three-pointer by Quayle with 4:45 to play gave the Ags a 15-point lead -- their biggest of the game.

"When we get up, it's natural just to kind of relax because you're up," Wesley said. "We didn't want to do that this game, we didn't want to let it come down to free throws at the end, overtime, or a tip-in -- we wanted to keep our lead and that's what we were able to do in the second half.

Quayle tickled the twine one more time from long range with just over 1:30 to play to ice the game and keep the Aggies unbeaten in conference play. He finished with 18 points and five rebounds, and Wilkinson also reached double figures with 10 points.

The Aggies have now won 12 games in a row, which is the third longest active winning streak in the nation behind Wake Forest (16) and St. Mary's (14).

That streak will be greatly tested this week as the Aggies hit the road to take on conference foes San Jose State and Hawaii -- a road swing the Aggies were swept on last season.

"I think we have a big week ahead of us that will really show our true colors," Wesley said. "We should be ready, we're excited to redeem ourselves."


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