Aggie Men's Basketball Lassos Broncos, 76-70, Saturday
Feb. 8, 2014
LOGAN, Utah - Senior guard Preston Medlin and senior center Jarred Shaw led four Utah State men's basketball players in double-digits as the Aggies beat the Broncos of Boise State, 76-70, Saturday afternoon at a spirited Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The win was the Aggies' second in a row in improving to 14-9 overall and 4-7 in Mountain West action, starting the second half of league play with their first MW winning streak of the season, their first in the league. Boise State suffered its third-straight loss in falling to 15-9 overall and 5-6 in MW play. With Saturday's win, USU improved to 18-0 all-time at home against Boise State, as well as 29-9 overall, winning seven of the last eight and 23 of the last 29 games played in the series.
Saturday's win was also USU head coach Stew Morrill's 300th career conference victory, as he is 300-155 all-time in conference games. Morrill is now 598-277 overall, needing two more wins to becoming the 14th active Division I head coach and the 41st all-time Division I head coach with 600 wins.
Medlin netted 19 points, including 14 in the second half, as well as draining all three of his three-point attempts, while Shaw logged his second-straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, adding two blocked shots. Sophomore forward Kyle Davis notched 15 points to go with eight rebounds and a career-high five assists, while senior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield tallied 13 points, for the second game in a row that four Aggies scored in double-figures.
Boise State had three players net double-digits, led by Anthony Drmic's 26 points, hitting five three-pointers, while Derrick Marks posted 21 points and Mikey Thompson tallied 13 points. Thomas Bropleh and Ryan Watkins pulled down nine rebounds apiece. Watkins had five offensive rebounds to match his national-leading average, but half of what he snared in BSU's win over USU in Boise on Jan. 18. Boise State's Nick Duncan, who tallied a career-high 17 points against the Aggies on Jan. 18, was held to zero points Saturday afternoon. Bropleh also dished out a team-high four assists and Drmic had BSU's two steals.
Utah State had a slim, 30-29, rebounding advantage, marking the third game in a row and fourth in last five that the Aggies had more rebounds than their opposition, improving to 11-5 on the season when out-rebounding the opponent.
USU also had eight turnovers Saturday afternoon, which are tied for the third-fewest in a game this year and the Aggies have now committed single-digit turnovers nine times this season. Utah State swiped six steals, which are its most in its last seven games and tied for the second-most this season behind its seven steals against Colorado State.
The Aggies shot 62.5 percent (15-of-24) from the field in the second half, finishing the game at 56.9 percent (29-of-51). It marked the 10th time this season and first time in USU's last four games that it has shot at least 50 percent from the field. Medlin's three treys were joined by one by Butterfield, as the Aggies were 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) from behind the arc, and USU also made 70.0 percent (14-of-20) of its free throws.
Boise State made 46.4 percent (26-of-56) of its field goals, hitting 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from distance, as well as 76.9 percent (10-of-13) at the free pitch stripe.
The Broncos bucked out of the gates, jumping to a 13-4 lead at the 15:55 mark after a Drmic layup. Utah State pulled within 27-25 with 6:24 to go in the first half after Butterfield went coast-to-coast, snaring a rebound and leading the fast break for a layup. After BSU scored the next four points for a 31-25 lead with 5:45 left, USU closed the half on an 8-2 spurt, started by a Butterfield bucket and capped by a pair of Davis free throws with 48 seconds left to knot the score at 33-all, the first tie since 2-2. Neither team scored to keep the score knotted at 33's entering intermission, marking the first time that USU had been tied at halftime, as the Aggies improved to 13-1 on the season when leading or tied at the half.
Just like in Wednesday's win over Nevada, Medlin led off USU's second-half scoring with a three-pointer, the first three of his seven-straight points for the Aggies. After a three-point play by Davis gave the home team a 43-40 lead at the 15:57 mark, Watkins countered with a basket and ensuing free throw of his own to level the score for the sixth time on the day, at 43-43 with 15:39 on the clock. Davis put the Aggies ahead for good with a two more free throws, and USU stretched its lead to 56-47 after a layup by freshman forward Jalen Moore.
Shaw later hit a layup for the largest Aggie advantage of the night at 63-53 with 6:59 on the clock, but BSU wouldn't go away, charging back to close to 69-66 with 2:35 left after a three-point play by Marks. Senior guard TeNale Roland hit 1-of-2 free throws after getting fouled on the ensuing inbounds play, and the visitors wouldn't get any closer, with two turnovers and a missed shot on their next three possession. The Aggies kept the Broncos at bay by hitting 6-8 free throws in the final minute to secure the victory.
After playing four of its last five games at home, USU hits the road, heading to Fort Collins, Colo., to take on Colorado State on Tuesday, Feb. 11 in a 7:15 p.m. (MT) tip-off. The Aggies and Rams will lock horns in the nationally televised game on CBS Sports Network (Comcast Ch. 269/753HD in Cache Valley, Dish Network Ch. 158, DirecTV Ch. 221).
Utah State head coach Stew Morrill was head coach at CSU for seven seasons prior to coming to USU, while Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy was USU head coach from 1994-98. It will be Morrill's first time returning to CSU as head coach of the Aggies.
USU returns home to host UNLV on Saturday, Feb. 15 in another Saturday afternoon contest, as the battle between the Aggies and Rebels will tip-off at 2 p.m. (MT) and will also be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.
For Utah State 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.
The NCAA has launched the NCAA 6th Fan contest, an exciting nationwide online competition that will determine which Division I school has the most school pride and supportive fans. Utah State fans can learn all the details at www.ncaa.com/6thfan, including how to win great fan prizes and how to help Utah State be awarded over $100,000 in general scholarship contributions.
Utah State fans can vote at www.ncaa.com/6thFan by casting votes directly, or votes can be submitted through ncaa.com to Facebook and Twitter. Fans also can vote directly on Twitter by Tweeting or Retweeting the #6thFan hashtag and Utah State's hashtag: #UTST.
USU has also been nominated as one of the top college basketball student sections in the country and is now asking for fan support in helping it win the prestigious title. Aggie fans can have a say in determining the most deserving student section by voting for the Naismith Student Section of the Year Award daily via social media platforms.
There are three ways fans can vote. There is a direct link to a poll at www.mystudentsectionrocks.com. Fans can also go on facebook at www.facebook.com/collegecolors or vote on twitter using the hashtag: #RockUSUColors.
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, on facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on instagram at instagram.com/USUAthletics.