Utah State basketball edges Utah Valley
Orem • A team that outshoots, outrebounds and outdefends its opponent is typically up big in the closing seconds of a game.
It was hard to believe, then, when Utah Valley cut Utah State's lead to four points with just 17 seconds left on a 30-foot leaner by Holton Hunsaker.
The Aggies (6-1) collected themselves after a panicked timeout and got a pair of Preston Medlin free throws to seal the 69-63 victory, escaping the UCCU Center on Saturday night with a road win over the Wolverines (5-7) that was closer than it seemed.
"There were some good things out there, and there were some things we shouldn't have done," coach Stew Morrill said. "Obviously the game got a lot scarier than it should've been, but you take road wins however you can get them."
The Aggies' sixth W of the season was built on the post game provided by Jarred Shaw, Kyisean Reed and Matt Lopez. The trio combined for 28 points, helping gain a 38-22 point advantage in the paint.
UVU leading scorer and rebounder Ben Aird was muted against Utah State's strong post presence, and the Aggies forced the Wolverines into long shots from the perimeter.
The trouble was that UVU made its share of those shots, going 7 for 19 from long range. After a first-half, 14-point effort by Alfonzo Hubbard powered the Wolverines' offense, Hunsaker and Nick Thompson kept them alive with run-killing baskets that threw the Aggies off.
"They have good 3-point shooters," freshman point guard Marcel Davis said. "They were just hitting shots. We've got to buckle down and defend. When we do that, we're really good."
Davis helped carry Utah State in the second half, scoring seven straight to pump up the lead, and finishing with a team-high 17 in his first career start. He took advantage of double teams on Shaw, driving inside and getting to the free-throw line. A crowd of family members from nearby American Fork got to soak in his strong performance.
The true freshman has now led the Aggies in back-to-back games in scoring, going for 38 combined points in a pair of wins. It was one of the positives Morrill took from what was, at times, an inconsistent team effort.
"He was a little tenative early, but he's gotten more aggressive," Morrill said. "It's almost like you can see him getting better every day and every game."
Lopez's boost was something of a surprise for Utah State. The sophomore transfer had two rim-rocking dunks in his Aggie debut, including a drop-step move on Aird in the second half that shocked even his own coaches.
As a team, Utah State got its seventh straight double-digit rebounding margin and shot 54.9 percent from the field. The Aggies improved to 8-0 all-time against Utah Valley.
Utah State is now 2-0 on the road, its last away game before starting conference play on a Texas road trip at the end of the month. The Aggies host the World Vision Challenge next week, hosting Southern Illinois, Nicholls State and UC Davis.
R Aggies earn their second road win with a pair of Preston Medlin free throws.
• Marcel Davis scores a team-high 17 points; Jarred Shaw adds 12.
• Utah State outrebounds UVU by 15, continuing the Aggies' streak of double-digit board margin.