Marcel Davis has a breakout game for the Aggies
If you ask his teammates, it was only a matter of time for Marcel Davis.
In his first few games, the freshman looked very much like - well, a freshman. A kid stuggling with the speed of the college game.
But those who have seen him in practices have seen a very steady, gradual improvement.
"He gets better every day," Spencer Butterfield said. "We talk about it all the time. Every time, he does a little better, passes a little better, makes more shots, steps up his game. You know it was bound to happen with his work ethic."
It's hard to pick at Davis' performance on Saturday night, a 21-point outing on 9-for-11 shooting with five rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. Against Western Oregon, Davis was very much the point guard coaches are expecting him to be one day.
He was quick going from end-to-end, finishing fast breaks with layups. He also shot 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and took Wolves defenders hard off the dribble. Sure it was a Division II opponent, but leading the team in scoring and shooting was something to behold for Davis who for now has been a backup.
Davis showed signs of progress in recent games, perhaps none better than against Santa Clara. And he felt a good game coming
"I always try to come in with a lot of energy," Davis said. "Just told the guys to rebound and let's run. Jarred, Jordan, Ben, Kyisean rebounded really well and I just look for the outlet and just got on the break. And we got whatever we wanted on the break."
It was an all-around stellar performance from the rookie out of American Fork, a long time commit who - if he keeps it up - could be starting a brilliant career in Logan.
"I thought he was the one guy who right from the get-go, he was ready to go," Stew Morrill said. "He had a really good game, he was aggressive. He's just getting a little better every night out and that's exciting. He's obviously earning more minutes and doing good things."
Butterfield with a strong start
On the stat sheet, maybe no one popped out quite like Spencer Butterfield: 10 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists.
The junior transfer was announced earlier this week as Danny Berger's replacement in the starting lineup, and it wasn't a surprise. Before Berger went down, Butterfield had established himself as the first man off the bench. He's fifth on the team in scoring, and has shown an ability to use his body for hustle boards.
Morrill said he expected as much from Butterfield, and more of it in the future.
"Spencer's always gonna play really hard," Morrill said. "He's a very good rebounder who sometimes gets overlooked. He can shoot the ball. He wasn't blessed with great quickness, but he makes up for it with really hard physical play - he's probably our strongest guy."
Reed: defensive MVP?
One underlooked aspect of Utah State's strong early season this year is defense, and the role its played in the team's successes. And no one is quite leading the defense like Kyisean Reed.
Statistically, he leads the teams in blocks and steals. Although Jarred Shaw is the team's leading rebounder, Reed has a knack for getting the board and the open pass, as he showed by chipping in three assists against Western Oregon. And his offensive rebounding, which is just about on par with Shaw, plays a huge role in second-chance points and keeping the ball out of opponents' hands.
With Reed on the floor, the Aggies have an impact playmaker who is a huge contributor to the early wins. Western Oregon shot only 36.2 percent from the field, the third such opponent to be held below 40 percent. And the interior defense by Reed and Shaw helps keep the middle clogged.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon