Logan • With every shot that hit its mark, Preston Medlin howled and pumped his fist.
It was a release, shaking off the chains. And as the junior guard piled up the points, Utah State fans exhaled. It was the Medlin they had been expecting this year, the one who rained down 3s from the right flank, who laid in floaters, who took charges in the lane.
Medlin’s second-half surge of 16 points set the tone for a 73-61 win over UC Davis (3-7) on Friday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Utah State (8-1) made the halftime adjustments it needed: slowing the transition game, crashing the boards, setting up its offense.
And it didn’t hurt that their shooters, led by Medlin’s season-high 23 points, really got going for the first time all year.
“It felt really good,” Medlin said. “It was good for me tonight, it was good for this team.”
UC Davis set a gauntlet for the hometown Aggies by doubling inside and running a tight zone. With Utah State’s post game leading the team’s early victories, UC Davis dared the Aggies to shoot over them.
It turned out to be not much of a problem as Utah State shot a season-best 12 for 22 from long range. Medlin and Spencer Butterfield each had four 3-pointers, while TeNale Roland and Marvin Jean each had a pair coming off the bench.
To this point in the season, it would have been a marvel for Utah State to win a game with only 18 points in the paint. But the hot streak of shooting and a season-low six turnovers helped the Aggies pull away late.
“We have struggled a little bit at times from the 3-point line,” said coach Stew Morrill, who had previously pointed out shooting as one of the team’s big struggles. “We have some pretty good shooters, and that should help some confidence.”
But Utah State’s offensive burst would have been for naught if they had allowed the first half’s torrid pace all game. UC Davis hustled their way to a 40-39 lead at halftime, shooting over 50 percent from the field and from 3-point range. At times, UC Davis simply caught the Aggies in transition for easy layups.
After a less-than-gentle lecturing from the coaching staff, Utah State stiffened up. UC Davis shot went 7 for 21 in the second half, lost its rebounding edge and generally looked out of sync for the rest of the night. Although three scorers finished in double digits, no one scored more than 12 points.
The win came on a night of uncharacteristic struggles for Jarred Shaw and Kyisean Reed. Double teams kept the 6-foot-11 Shaw from consistently getting good looks, while Reed was confined to the bench with foul trouble. Morrill cited Ben Clifford as another key bench performer while working the boards.
Southern Illinois 65, Nicholls State 53 • The Salukis held off a rally from the Colonels, earning their first win of the World Vision Challenge. Southern Illinois did their damage inside, gaining a 42-18 advantage in the paint, as well as a 42-29 rebounding margin. Desmar Jackson led the Salukis with 21 points.
O Preston Medlin scores a season-high 23 points.
• Utah State shoots 12 for 22 from the 3-point line.
• The Aggies commit a season-low six turnovers.
Utah State 73, UC Davis 61
UC DAVIS (3-7) • Adenrele 1-3 3-6 5, Hawkins 5-15 0-0 11, Ritchart 2-4 0-0 6, Sypkens 5-9 0-1 12, Mancasola 2-4 0-2 4, Graham 1-2 0-0 2, Betu 0-1 0-0 0, Les 1-2 0-0 3, Howley 2-5 2-2 7, Ott 0-1 0-0 0, Bozner 4-4 3-5 11. Totals 23-50 8-16 61.
UTAH ST. (8-1) • Reed 2-7 5-7 9, Shaw 2-10 2-4 6, Davis 1-1 0-0 2, Medlin 9-17 1-1 23, Butterfield 4-9 2-2 14, Clifford 0-2 0-0 0, Lopez 0-1 0-0 0, Jean 3-5 0-0 8, Roland 4-7 1-2 11, Bair 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 11-16 73. Halftime—UC Davis 40-39. 3-Point Goals—UC Davis 7-21 (Ritchart 2-4, Sypkens 2-5, Howley 1-2, Les 1-2, Hawkins 1-5, Mancasola 0-1, Betu 0-1, Ott 0-1), Utah St. 12-22 (Butterfield 4-6, Medlin 4-10, Roland 2-2, Jean 2-3, Clifford 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—UC Davis 32 (Howley 12), Utah St. 35 (Reed 8). Assists—UC Davis 15 (Graham 5), Utah St. 20 (Medlin, Roland 4). Total Fouls—UC Davis 19, Utah St. 16. A—7,781.