Aggies Ready To Lock Horns With Rams Wednesday In Reese's Mountain West Men's Basketball Championships
March 11, 2014
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Utah State will make its Reese's Mountain West Men's Basketball Championships debut as the eighth-seed on Wednesday, March 12, taking on ninth-seeded Colorado State in the opening game of the men's portion of the tournament. Action tips off at 3 p.m. (MT) at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.
Utah State enters its first Reese's Mountain West Men's Basketball Championships with a 17-13, overall and 7-11 MW ledger, and will face a Colorado State team that brings a 16-15 overall and 7-11 MW record into postseason action. USU is in its first season in the Mountain West after eight in the Western Athletic Conference, where it won two tournament titles, as part of its eight total conference tournament championships, also winning six Big West Conference crowns.
Wednesday's game will not be televised, but will be streamed on the Mountain West Network, with Rich Cellini providing play-by-play with analysis from Joe Cravens. The game will also be aired on the radio and audio streamed online on the Aggie Sports Network through on USU's website, www.UtahStateAggies.com, with play-by-play provided by Al Lewis, while former USU head coach and athletics director Rod Tueller serves as the analyst.
Utah State head coach Stew Morrill and USU associate coach Tim Duryea both coached at CSU, with Morrill as head coach for the Rams from 1992-98, posting a 121-86 (.585) record there. Duryea, who is in his 13th season at USU, began his coaching career in 1988 at Colorado State, being on the Rams' bench for the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons under head coach Boyd Grant.
Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy was head coach at Utah State from 1994-98, being replaced by Morrill from CSU after Eustachy left USU for Iowa State. Eustachy posted a 98-53 (.649) during his five seasons at USU.
Utah State is third in the NCAA statistics in three-point field goal percentage (.407), as part of five top 20 marks in the recent NCAA statistics, updated and released on Monday afternoon. USU is also 11th in assists per game (16.3), 13th in assist-turnover ratio (1.48), 15th in rebounding margin (+6.5) and 20th in total assists (490).
Individually, senior guard Preston Medlin is 15th in the country in assist-turnover margin (3.05). Senior center Jarred Shaw is 63rd in overall rebounding (8.5), also ranking 26th in defensive rebounds per game (6.48). Sophomore forward Kyle Davis is 55th in offensive rebounds per game (3.07).
The Aggies are led by the senior trio of guard/forward Spencer Butterfield, Shaw and Medlin. Butterfield and Shaw earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors, announced Monday.
Additionally, Shaw was tabbed to the College Sports Madness second-team all-Mountain West list, while Butterfield and Medlin were on the fourth team, as the publication announced its all-MW honors Tuesday afternoon.
Shaw leads USU in scoring with 14.4 points per game, while Butterfield adds 13.3 ppg and Medlin nets 12.6 ppg. Shaw is also averaging a team-leading 8.5 rebounds to go with second on the team with 1.24 blocks per game. He is shooting 48.2 percent (148-of-307) from the field, in addition to 78.3 percent (65-of-83) at the free throw line.
Butterfield and Medlin are each shooting over 42.0 percent from both total field goals and beyond the three-point arc, as well as both shooting over 78.0 percent at the free throw line. After draining a career-high six three-pointers in game at San José State on March 1, Butterfield is netting 47.5 percent (67-of-141) from distance and 47.4 percent (137-of-289) field goal shooting, along with a team-best 81.4 percent (57-of-70) at the free pitch stripe. Additionally, Butterfield averages 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Medlin is making 42.7 percent (67-of-157) behind the arc, as part of 42.5 percent (125-of-294) overall field goal shooting, adding 78.2 percent (61-of-78) at the charity stripe. Medlin is also averaging team-bests of 4.16 assists and a 3.05 assist-turnover ratio. Sophomore forward Kyle Davis adds 9.4 ppg, along with 7.8 rebounds and a team-leading 1.33 blocks per game. Davis is shooting 51.5 percent (85-of-165) from the field, along with 83-of-120 (69.2 percent) at the free throw line.
USU leads the Mountain West overall statistics in three-point field goal percentage (.407), rebound margin (+6.5) and assists (16.3), while ranking second in free throw percentage (.737) and assist-turnover ratio (1.5), as well as third in three-point field goal percentage defense (.314), while ranking fourth in field goal percentage (.457). The Aggies are also fifth in scoring defense (66.3), field goal percentage defense (.419) and rebounds (36.7). USU is also sixth in blocks (3.8) and scoring margin (+3.8), eighth in scoring (70.1) and 11th in steals (3.4).
Individually, Butterfield leads the MW in three-point field goal percentage at 47.5 percent (67-of-141), also ranking 16th in scoring (13.3) and tied for 14th in rebounding (6.2). Butterfield has made 67 three-pointers in 30 games to rank tied for fifth in three-pointers made with 2.2, tying fellow senior, Medlin, who also has 67 treys in 30 games, shooting 67-of-157, to rank fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.427), as well as second in the league in assist-turnover ratio (3.0) and third in assists (4.2). Shaw is 13th in the conference in scoring (14.4) and seventh in rebounding (8.5), also ranking fifth in field goal percentage (.482), as well as eighth in blocks (1.2). Davis is seventh in blocks (1.3) and ninth in rebounds (7.8). Senior guard TeNale Roland has a 3.58 assist-turnover ratio, which would rank second in the league, but he doesn't meet the minimum requirement of 3.0 assists per game, currently at 2.87.
USU and CSU finished tied for eighth-place in the MW standings, with the Aggies winning the tiebreaker for the No. 8 seed based on their two-game sweep of the Rams during MW competition. Colorado State closed out its last four games with a win-loss-win-loss pattern, losing at rival Wyoming, 83-75, on Saturday afternoon. Junior forward J.J. Avila led three Rams in double-figures with 21 points and just missing a double-double with a team-high nine rebounds, before fouling out, one of three Rams and one of five players in the game, that saw 28 fouls whistled on each team. Junior guard Daniel Bejarano tallied 15 points, hitting three three-pointers, adding seven rebounds, before also fouling out. Sophomore guard Joe De Ciman was the third CSU player in double-digits with 13 points.
Avila leads CSU and ranks fourth in the MW in scoring at 16.8 ppg, also ranking 10th in the league in rebounding at 7.5 rpg. He is also seventh in the conference in field goal percentage (.456, 182-of-399), as well as fifth in assists (3.5) and tied for ninth in steals (1.1), while ranking 10th in minutes played (33.6). Bejarno is sixth in the conference in scoring at 16.7 ppg and also ranks eighth in rebounding (8.4). He is also eighth in assist-turnover ratio (1.8), seventh in assists (3.2), ninth in free throw percentage (.793), tied for ninth in both three-point field goals made (2.0) and steals (1.1), along with ninth in minutes played (33.9).
Wednesday's meeting will be the third this season between USU and CSU, after the Aggies swept the season-series with the Rams after winning, 57-50, on Jan. 15 in Logan, and 71-62 on Feb. 11 in Fort Collins.
Despite facing off in the postseason for the first time, as well as on a neutral court for the first time, Utah State and Colorado State will be meeting for the 90th time in school history, which is USU's fifth-oldest rivalry. Utah State holds a 54-35 series advantage, as the Aggies' two wins this season come after a five-game win streak for the Rams. USU's win on Feb. 11 was the Aggies' first win in Fort Collins since 1976. The Aggies and Rams, who also used to be known as Aggies, first met during the 1925-26 season, with USU winning, 39-23.
Utah State is 38-27 (.585) all-time in conference tournaments, in playing in the first round of a conference tournament for the first time, as well as having a 16-16 (.500) record in the quarterfinals, a 14-5 (.737) mark in the semifinals and an 8-6 (.571) record in the championship. If they make it to the quarterfinals, USU has won nine of its last 11 quarterfinals games dating back to the 2000 season, having a nine-game win streak in its conference tournament quarterfinal games snapped with a 72-70 loss to Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals of the 2012 WAC Tournament. Last season, fifth-seeded USU lost to fourth-seeded UT Arlington, 83-78, in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament, the Aggies' final WAC game before joining the Mountain West last summer.
In playing in the MW Championships for the first time, USU is making its third conference tournament debut, after the Aggies played in their first Big West Tournament in 1979 and their first WAC Tournament in 2006. Utah State advanced to the championship game both teams, falling to Pacific (82-73) in the 1979 Big West title game and losing to Nevada (70-63 OT) in the 2006 WAC final.
The winner of Wednesday's first round match-up between USU and CSU advances to the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 13 to take on top-seed and regular-season champion San Diego State (27-3, 16-2 MW) at 1 p.m. (MT). Complete tournament information for the 2014 Reese's Mountain West Championships can be found at www.themw.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, on facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on instagram at instagram.com/USUAthletics.