Logan • In packing the paint Saturday night, Utah Valley might have overlooked one of the Aggies’ best weapons.
Before they could blink, Preston Medlin was putting a long-range whipping on the Wolverines. They learned a tough lesson: Don’t sleep on Utah State’s sharp-shooting senior guard.
“I felt great, as you could probably see out there,” said Medlin, finishing with 18 points. “My teammates were getting me open, I was getting some wide-open looks. They were going in tonight.”
His first-half performance was a driving factor in the Aggies’ 71-60 win over UVU at the Spectrum. Utah State (6-2) broke a recent cold streak with hot shooting and smothering defense that held the Wolverines (4-6) to only one basket in the first 11 minutes of the game to take a 23-point lead at the half.
The Aggies lost a bit of steam near the finish, allowing a 16-4 run to close the gap. But the final score was deceptive: With a huge edge on the boards and solid passing on offense, this one was never in jeopardy.
“The last 10 minutes of the second half, when the game was out of reach, we didn’t play very well,” coach Stew Morrill said. “For three quarters of the game, we played well and we played hard. We’ll take the win.”
Medlin was a red-hot 4-for-5 from behind the arc in the first half, and when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt, he made all three free throws. It was his night, at least in the first half. He had a quieter second, making only one more shot in the game, but it was his highest-scoring effort since November.
The threat of his long ball helped open the paint up for Jarred Shaw and Kyle Davis, who combined for 30 points. Utah Valley also couldn’t commit as many bodies to the lane, helping the Aggies to a 39-21 rebounding advantage.
“He needed a night like that,” Morrill said. “I keep telling him how good of a player he is, and I think the more he believes that, the better off we are. Because he is a good player.”
Defense was a weakness in back-to-back losses leading into the game, and in that area, Utah State showed improvement. Holton Hunsaker’s 3-pointer with 8:17 left in the first half broke an eight-minute drought without a field goal for UVU. The Aggies’ length and quickness bothered the Wolverines on the defensive end.
That advantage softened in the second half, as UVU shot 47.6 percent after the break. The Aggies acknowledged some “slippage” on defense as the game wore on, and are still looking to fix it.
“It’s just something we’ve got to keep working at,” Shaw said. “We’ve got to learn grit and grind and just continue to get better at it. The second half is the most important part of the game to me. We’ve gotta not be tired and make a stand.”
Kyle Davis had 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in his return to the starting lineup after missing a game with knee soreness. Point guard Marcel Davis had his first start of the year, but missed most of the first half after splitting his lip in the opening minutes. Morrill said his injury required stitches mid-game.
R Preston Medlin shoots 5-for-8 from 3-point range for 18 points.
• The Aggies gain a 39-21 edge in rebounding.
• Holton Hunsaker leads all scorers with 21 for Utah Valley.