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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 16, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Ags start season right with 21-point win over Montana State-Northern

NEW GUY IN TOWN: JC transfer point guard Jared Quayle brings the ball upcourt, getting into his first non-exhibition game as an Aggie. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

By Craig Morris

November 16, 2008 | Utah State opened its regular season with a 71-50 victory over the Montana State Northern Lights at the Spectrum. Montana State came into the game 6-0 on the season and defending co-champions in the Frontier Conference of the NAIA.

Gary Wilkinson led the team with a double-double (24 points and 12 rebounds) while Tai Wesley added 13 points and seven boards. Wilkinson scored the first play of the game on a baseline screen with an assist from Pooh Williams. The Lights had no answer for the post play of Utah State all night.

Montana State-Northern kept it interesting for a good portion of the game with scrappy play. Travis Noble led the team in scoring with 18 points on 4 of 7 from the three-point line.

It seemed as if the Aggies would start to pull away when the roof nearly came off after a monster dunk from Modou Niang, but the Lights responded with a few free throws and a three-pointer to trim the lead to 21-17. Both teams fought hard but Wilkinson added a slam dunk of his own on an assist from Wesley that gave Utah State the momentum heading into halftime with a 35-25 lead.

The Lights pulled to within eight points in the second half, but Williams picked off a pass and took it coast to coast for the layup, and the Ags never looked back.

"We can't look past any team," said Wilkinson. And they didn't. The Aggies played with intensity and hustled the whole game.

USU Coach Stew Morrill said, "That's exactly what I expected from Montana State-Northern. I thought they did a really good job of coming in and competing."

The Aggies shot 54 percent from the field but managed to shoot only 61 percent from the charity stripe. Utah State played smothering defense and forced the opponent to take a lot of bad shots, which led to deafening chants of "Air ball! Air ball!" from the crowd. The Lights shot just 38 percent from the field in the game.

"We obviously have to make some improvements in a lot of areas to be a decent Division I team," added Morrill. "If you look at the stats, we didn't necessarily play horribly, but I think we better improve in a hurry to compete with Santa Barbara."

Utah State travels to play an old rival, UC Santa Barbara, Monday. The Gauchos are 1-0 on the season and also won their only exhibition game. These two teams battled it out for years in the Big West before Utah State joined the WAC.

The Aggies will be at home again Nov. 25 when they will host in-state rival Weber State.


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