Feb. 14, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State closed out the game with a 12-2 run to pull away from a pesky Montana Tech squad, 70-58, in non-conference men's basketball action on Valentine's Day night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
USU improved to 14-13 overall, moving to 12-3 at home this season and have won 95 of its last 100 home games. Tuesday's game was an exhibition contest for Montana Tech. It was also only the third-ever meeting between the Aggies and Orediggers, and first since 2000, with USU improving to 3-0.
Sophomore guard Preston Medlin netted a game-high 22 points and was one rebound shy of his first double-double of the season with a career-high tying nine boards. It was Medlin's 10th game in a row scoring in double-figures and was his eighth 20-point outing of the year.
Senior guard Brockeith Pane tallied all 16 of his points in the second half, spearheading USU's rally from a 34-30 halftime deficit, as the Aggies improved to 2-10 this season when trailing at intermission. Pane also dished out a team-high five assists, his seventh-straight game with at least three helpers and 10th game this season with five or more assists.
Montana Tech had three players in double-digits, led by Adam Greger's 12 points, but he was limited to just two points in the second half. Brian Cummings added 11 points off the bench while Cole Conway registered 10 points to go with a team-high seven rebounds. AJ Paine also dished out a game-best six assists.
The Aggies shot 23-of-48 (47.9 percent) from the field, hitting 60.0 percent (12-of-20) in the second half, and made just 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) of their three-pointers for the night. USU was also 20-of-27 (74.1 percent) at the free throw line. The Orediggers scorched the nets to the tune of 55.6 percent (15-of-27) in the first half, but cooled off in the second half, making just 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) after halftime. Montana Tech was also 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from three-point range and were 2-of-3 (66.7 percent) at the free throw line, both season-lows for a USU opponent, as the Aggies were whistled for a season-low nine fouls.
There were 11 lead changes and the score was tied three times in the first half, with Montana Tech taking several four-point leads. After USU took a 28-27 advantage on a Medlin three-pointer from the top of the arc with 5:16 to go, the Orediggers reeled off seven of the next nine points, taking a 34-30 lead into intermission after Cummings hit a jumper with five ticks to go.
Paine hit a layup and was fouled to open the second half, but missed the ensuing free throw, but Montana Tech got the rebound and Tyree Haynie hit a three from the right wing to open a 39-30 Oredigger advantage with just 12 seconds run off the second stanza clock. Pane sparked a 9-0 run with a layup and capped it with a pair of free throws to knot the score at 39-all with 17:26 remaining.
Another Pane layup put the Aggies on top 45-43 at the 14:09 mark, for USU's first lead in nearly 10 minutes of game play since 28-27. Leading 47-45, USU reeled off seven unanswered, capped by another Pane layup for a palindromic 54-45 lead at the 10:07 mark. However the Orediggers dug back to pull within, 58-56, with 5:45 to play after a jumper by Daniel Simon, but that would be the closest they would get, as Pane and Medlin hit buckets in back-to-back possessions and the Aggies hung on for the win.
Utah State continues its five-game homestand and two-game non-conference stretch by hosting UC Santa Barbara in an ESPNU BracketBuster game on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. (MT). The battle between the Aggies and Gauchos will be televised throughout the state of Utah on KMYU-TV, which can be found throughout the state on Comcast Ch.22 as well as on the Dish Network (Ch. 12) and DirecTV (Ch. 12). KMYU is also available over-the-air on 2.2. KMYU-TV, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, also owns Salt Lake City's CBS affiliate KUTV.
USU resumes Western Athletic Conference action on Friday, Feb. 24, hosting Idaho on Senior Night in a 7 p.m. tip, which will also be televised on KMYU-TV. The Aggies then close out regular-season play at San Jose State on Thursday, March 1 and at Hawai'i on Saturday, March 3.
To purchase Aggie basketball tickets, fans can contact the USU Ticket Office at 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305, in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or on-line 24 hours a day at www.utahstateaggies.com by clicking on the "tickets" button.
Fans can follow the Aggie basketball program at twitter.com/Aggiehoops or on the USU men's basketball blog at usubasketball.blogspot.com. Aggie 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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