March 9, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Sophomore forward Ben Clifford led four Aggies in double-figures with a career-high 21 points as Utah State men's basketball posted its 1,500th win in program history with a 71-51 Western Athletic Conference victory against UTSA Saturday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in both team's regular-season finale. With the win, USU becomes the 52nd team in NCAA history to win 1,500 games.
Utah State improves to 21-9 on the season and 11-7 in league play as it finishes its final season in the WAC tied for fourth-place with UT Arlington (17-12, 11-7 WAC). The Aggies will be the fifth-seed in next week's WAC Tournament and will face fourth-seeded UTA on Thursday, March 14 at 9:30 p.m. (MT) at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. UTSA falls to 8-21 overall and 3-14 in league play with the loss. USU sweeps the season-series with UTSA, winning in the first-ever meeting between the two teams, 71-67, on Dec. 29 at San Antonio.
Utah State, who joins the Mountain West Conference on July 1, recorded a 94-34 all-time WAC record in its eight years in the league including winning 48 of its final 62 conference games.
Clifford, who was 7-of-10 from the field and 7-of-8 at the free throw line, added eight rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots to go along with his career-high 21 points. His previous career-high was 14 points, netted two other times. Clifford has now posted double-figure points in the last two games and three of the last four games.
Junior guard TeNale Roland also recorded a career-high in the game with 14 points, all of which were scored in the second half, to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Junior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield matched Roland's 14 points, as he was 4-of-6 from the field, 3-of-5 from three-point range and 3-of-4 at the free throw line.
Junior center Jarred Shaw just missed posting his 10th double-double of the season as he finished the game with 11 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Marvin Jean added a career-high 10 rebounds to go along with a career-high tying four assists, while scoring three points. Sophomore center Matt Lopez also had a solid game for USU as he tied his career-highs with eight points and two blocked shots, as he was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field. As did Roland, Lopez scored all eight of his points after intermission, which gave the home team a 22-6 advantage in bench points.
Michael Hale III led UTSA with 21 points, including scoring 16 straight at one point in the second half. Jeromie Hill added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Roadrunners. The Aggie defense held Kannon Burrage to nine points, 8.4 below his WAC-leading average entering Saturday's game.
Utah State finished the game shooting 50.0 percent (25-of-50), marking the 12th time this season USU has made at least half of its field goals. USU also shot 30.4 percent from three-point range (7-of-23) and 87.5 percent at the free throw line (14-of-16). UTSA shot just 32.8 percent (19-of-58), including 20.8 percent from three (5-of-24) and 57.1 percent at the line (8-of-14). USU also had twice as many assists as UTSA (22-11) and tied its season-high with nine blocked shots, as compared to just three for the visitors.
Clifford scored Utah State's first six points of the game to give the home team an early 6-3 advantage, before UTSA used a 7-0 run to tie the game at 12-12 with 9:09 to play in the half. USU then closed the half on a 13-5 run to take a 25-17 lead into halftime.
Butterfield had 12 points in the first half and Clifford added 11 as Utah State shot just 36.4 percent (8-of-22), including 25.0 percent from three-point range (3-of-12) and 75.0 percent at the line (6-of-8). The only other Aggie to score in the first 20 minutes was Shaw who had two points. UTSA shot just 24.1 percent in the first half (7-of-29), including just 15.4 percent from three (2-of-13) and 50.0 percent at the line (1-of-2).
Clifford continued his scoring early on in the second-half with five quick points to give Utah State its first double-digit lead of the game at 30-20 with 16:32 remaining. The Roadrunners eventually cut the deficit to six at 46-40 at the 10:13 mark, but USU answered with an 18-5 run over the next 5:10 to take a 64-45 lead with 5:15 to play following a Jean three-pointer and coasted from there for the 71-51 win.
After shooting just 36.4 percent in the first half, Utah State shot a blistering 60.7 percent in the second half making 17-of-28 field goals.
Utah State will return to action on Thursday, March 14 when it will face UT Arlington (17-12, 11-7) in the quarterfinals of the 2013 WAC Tournament in the Orleans Arena at 9:30 p.m. (MT). USU, who lost both regular season games to the Mavericks, enters the tournament as the fifth-seed and UTA is the fourth-seed.
For USU men's basketball ticket information for the WAC Tournament, 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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