Jordan Stone steps up on defense for Aggies
Jordan Stone has worked his way into fan's hearts this season - the Aggie faithful have roared every time the Smithfield native has grabbed a rebound or blocked a shot. The occasional points have been gravy.
But now the sophomore is working his way onto the court more often, and he's playing some pretty effective minutes.
Stone's defense was key in helping Utah State gain some momentum toward the end of the BYU game. With Jarred Shaw and Ben Clifford in serious second-half foul trouble, Stone played a career-high 25 minutes and ended up with nine points and four blocks.
"You gotta be ready for whatever comes," Stone said. "Someone gets in foul trouble, someone's gotta step up and do their part."
Immediately after Matt Lopez became eligible, Stone was all but glued to the bench for seven games. But gradually, the centers' roles have switched as Stone has shown himself to be a reliable presence on the defensive end.
He doesn't quite rebound or score with the best of them, but Stone is physical and isn't afraid to body up on his man. On Tuesday night, BYU found it hard to drive on him as he manned the middle and racked up half of the Aggies' rejections.
The most surprising part of his performance? Only one foul and no turnovers in a game filled with both. It suggests Stone is getting used to playing a bigger role off the bench.
"Any time you get more minutes, you get more comfortable," he said. "Kind of the flow the game gets with you. It definitely helps."
Still, he had his not-so-sterling moments, including a 5-for-9 night at the free throw line. And even though Stone threw down one of his best nights on Tuesday, he would've rather won.
"It's always been a big game, it's a big rivalry, you want to win," he said. "But nothing much you can do now: Just wait for the next game, play hard the next one."
BYU game-winner goes on Sportscenter
Just wanted to call attention for Aggies fans who had not yet heard the late-breaking news: Shortly after the game, a BYU official let the media know that Craig Cusick, the player who got the game-winning rebound and shot, had learned his father had cancer only hours before the contest.
The family did not announce it prior to the game, but news trickled out afterward. Cusick appeared on Sportscenter on Wednesday to talk about the game and his father.
My colleague Jay Drew has more on this for Utah State fans who are interested.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon