Jan. 17, 2013
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Utah State men's basketball's 13-game win streak was snapped with a 64-51 loss at New Mexico State Thursday night at NMSU's Pan American Center in Western Athletic Conference action.
USU is now 14-2 overall and 5-1 in WAC play, sliding into third-place in the league standings behind conference leader Louisiana Tech (6-0) and Denver (6-1), who USU plays Saturday afternoon. New Mexico State won its fifth in a row and sixth in the last eight games to improve to 11-8 overall and 5-2 in league play. Thursday was USU's third loss in a row to NMSU, but the navy Aggies still lead the all-time series, 35-30, in what is the 10th-oldest rivalry in USU history.
Utah State's 13-game win streak entering Thursday was the second-longest active streak in the country behind Kansas with 14 in a row, but that was halted. The 13-game streak is the sixth-longest under USU veteran head coach Stew Morrill and tied for the sixth-longest in school history with the 1974-75 team.
In scoring a season-low 51 points, USU shot just 39.3 percent (22-of-56) from the field, hitting 6-of-14 (42.9 percent) from three-point range, as well as a season-low 1-of-4 (25.0 percent) at the free throw line.
NMSU hit a scorching 69.6 percent (16-of-23) in the second half, finishing the night 26-of-45 (57.8 percent), a season-high percentage by a USU opponent this season. The maroon Aggies were 2-of-8 (25.0 percent) from behind the arc and 10-of-16 (62.5 percent) at the charity stripe.
USU was led by junior guard Preston Medlin with 14 points, with seven in each half, while junior center Jarred Shaw added 11 points and co-led USU in rebounds with four. Those were matched by junior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield, who was one of three USU players with five points, while senior forward Kyisean Reed added six points to go with a team-leading and season-high tying three assists, his first time leading USU in helpers this season.
NMSU had four players in double-figure scoring, led by Bandja Sy with 16 points while Tyrone Watson and Daniel Mullings tallied 12 points each and K.C. Ross-Miller added 10 points. Sy and Sim Bhullar snared seven rebounds each, as NMSU had a 33-26 rebounding advantage. It was just the fourth time this season that USU has been out-rebounded and it was its first loss doing so and was also the largest rebounding differential of the four occasions. Bhullar also had five blocks for NMSU.
Utah State took a 9-7 lead at the 14:35 mark on a Butterfield bucket, but that would be the visiting Aggies' last lead, as the home team went on a 9-2 run to open a 16-9 lead at the 8:21 mark on a jumper by Mullings. The NMSU advantage grew to eight at 23-15 with 25 seconds to go in the half before Shaw both shot and made his first three-pointer of the season right before the buzzer to send USU into halftime trailing, 23-18.
That would be the closest the navy Aggies would get, as NMSU opened up a 12-point lead at 34-22 with 16:11 to go on a trey from Ross-Miller. USU trimmed the gap to 34-26 after a dunk by Reed with 15:07 on the second half clock, but then NMSU pulled away and opened up its largest lead of the night at 56-35 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Ross-Miller with 5:54 left, and USU didn't trail by anything less than 13 the rest of the night for the win-streak halting loss.
Utah State heads to Denver to take on the Pioneers of Denver on Saturday, Jan. 19 at DU's Magness Arena. Denver improved to 10-7 overall and 6-1 in WAC play with its sixth-straight victory with a 73-37 win over San Jose State Thursday's night.
Saturday's match-up between the Aggies and Pioneers will be televised on ROOT Sports (Comcast Ch. 52/Ch. 693 HD; Dish Network Ch. 414; DirecTV Ch. 683 in Cache Valley) and also re-airing tape delay on several different channels in the following days - check local listings for more information.
After this weekend's road trip, USU returns home to host UT Arlington on Thursday, Jan. 24 and Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Jan. 26. Both contests tip off at 7 p.m. (MT) at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
For USU men's basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the "Buy Tickets" tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
Fans can follow the Aggie men's basketball program at twitter.com/AggieHoops. USU fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
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