NCAA Tournament: Pooh Williams, Utah State back in the Big Dance

Federal Way High School grad Pooh Williams will be making his second straight appearance at the NCAA Tournament with the Utah State Aggies. Williams is the Aggies
Federal Way High School grad Pooh Williams will be making his second straight appearance at the NCAA Tournament with the Utah State Aggies. Williams is the Aggies' defensive stopper and has started 31 games this season. Utah State plays Texas A&M Friday in Spokane.
— image credit: Utah State University

Federal Way High School graduate Pooh Williams is getting pretty used to playing in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. For the second time in his three seasons at Utah State, the Aggies qualified for the "Big Dance."

And to make things even sweeter for Williams, 12th-seeded Utah State will play its first-round game against fifth-seeded Texas A&M at Spokane Memorial Arena at 2 p.m. Friday.

"I guess we couldn't ask for a better place, especially for Pooh Williams," said Utah State junior forward Tai Wesley. "He is from that area and I'm sure he will have a lot of family there and I'm sure that will be good for him and for us. Hopefully we'll draw quite a few people out there. We couldn't be more excited about Spokane."

Utah State (27-7 overall, 14-2 Western Athletic Conference) is making it second-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, as well as its seventh in the last 11 years. Overall, USU is making its 19th NCAA Tournament appearance. Last season, 11th-seeded Utah State lost to sixth-seeded Marquette, 58-57, in Boise, Idaho, in the first round.

Utah State is coming off its third-straight regular-season Western Athletic Conference regular-season championship, losing to New Mexico State in the WAC Tournament championship game, 69-63, Saturday night in Reno, snapping USU's 17-game win streak.

Williams, a 6-foot-3 wing, has started 31 games this season for the Aggies this season as a junior. Williams is averaging Utah State's fourth-leading scorer at 8.8 points a game. But his role on the team is more of a defender. He was the first Aggie ever to be named to the WAC's all-defensive team and draws the assignment on the opposing team's best scorer every night.

Wesley leads a trio of USU players averaging double-digits with 13.6 points per game, while senior guard Jared Quayle added 12.5 ppg and junior forward Nate Bendall chips in with 10.4 ppg.

The winner of the Utah State-Texas A&M game will play the winner of fourth-seeded Purdue and 13th-seeded Siena on Sunday, March 21. Texas A&M (23-9) lost to Kansas in the semifinal of the Big 12 Tournament last week.

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