Utah State ekes out overtime thriller, 77-71
Butterfield scores 31 to lead USU past UC Santa Barbara.
Published: December 21, 2013 03:40PM
Updated: December 20, 2013 11:25PM
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Utah State's Ben Clifford attempts a shot while being guarded by UC Santa Barbara's Sam Beeler, right, and Kyle Boswell during an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/Herald Journal, John Zsiray)

Logan • It wasn’t over.

That’s what the Aggies kept telling themselves. Down eight points with four minutes to go, there wasn’t much reason to believe. But in a timeout, the Aggies broke a huddle saying this: “We’re not losing this game. We’re not losing this game. Show toughness.”

Slowly, it turned. And Spencer Butterfield led the way.

The senior guard scored a career-high 31 points, including seven in overtime, to lead Utah State to a 77-71 victory over visiting UC Santa Barbara. The Aggies trailed by double digits before tying it up in regulation with six seconds left, then holding the Gauchos to only 6 points in overtime.

Free throws by Butterfield put Utah State up five, then Marcel Davis had a steal with 3.9 seconds left to seal the result. The crowd at the Spectrum that had roared for the final 10 minutes of the game for its team’s improbable victory with no centers left in play.

“I think we showed incredible toughness tonight,” said Ben Clifford, his hair red with blood after getting staples in his scalp.

The Aggies managed to win despite both of their centers, Jordan Stone and Ben Clifford, fouling out. Defense helped them stay in it: Utah State held the Gauchos to 39.3 percent from the floor, and allowed only two field goals in overtime. Even outmatched by hefty Alan Williams in the paint, the team outrebounded UC Santa Barbara 40-29.

“It was a character win,” coach Stew Morrill said. “Those kinds of wins help you. Grind it out, find a way, don’t give in when you’re down.”

Utah State found itself in a familiar position with 25 seconds left in regulation: Down.

Kyle Boswell, who bugged the Aggies all night beyond the arc, hit a go-ahead 3-pointer — one of seven he had in the game. After a timeout, Preston Medlin drove in for a shot and missed, but Kyle Davis laid in a putback for the tying bucket.

“Once we got into overtime, I felt like we were confident enough as a team that we were going to win,” said Butterfield, who scored 24 of his 31 after halftime. “We had the crowd into it. We had the momentum.”

The Aggies trailed by as much as 10 points in the second half, struggling to keep up with a late full-court press by the Gauchos. Utah State’s big men also encountered foul trouble, with Stone fouling out with 4:50 to go, and Clifford on shaky ground with four.

Butterfield pulled the Aggies to a tie with 1:43 left, capping an individual 7-point run with a steal and fastbreak layup. A Marcel Davis free throw gave the Aggies one-point lead before the frantic finish to regulation.

The Gauchos appeared to be ready to run away after a 12-0 run in the game’s first seven minutes, but the Aggies chipped away at the lead throughout the half.

The Aggies climbed back ahead just before halftime, as Buttefield’s 3-pointer proved to be the go-ahead basket for the 31-29 lead at intermission.

Western Illinois 61, Troy 58 • Late free throws won the game for the Leathernecks, who broke a 58-all tie in the final minute of the game. Adam Link led Western Illinois with 24 points, while Tevin Calhoun led the Trojans with 14.

Storylines

O Spencer Butterfield scores a career-high 31 points for Utah State.

• The Aggies trail by 8 points with 4 minutes remaining before rallying for the win.

• Despite having two centers in foul trouble, the Aggies outrebound UC Santa Barbara 40-29.

Utah State 77, UCSB 71 (OT)

UC SANTA BARBARA (6-4)

Williams 10-24 3-4 23, Brewe 0-1 2-2 2, Brown 1-7 0-0 3, Childress 3-7 0-0 7, Harmon 1-7 1-2 3, Walker 1-3 0-0 2, Boswell 7-11 6-7 27, Moore 1-1 0-0 2, Beeler 0-0 2-2 2.

Totals 24-61 14-17 71.

UTAH ST. (8-2)

Butterfield 9-15 9-9 31, K. Davis 2-5 0-2 4, Stone 1-2 0-0 2, M. Davis 2-5 3-6 7, Medlin 4-11 4-4 14, Clifford 2-5 5-6 10, Berger 1-2 0-0 2, Moore 1-3 2-2 4, Roland 1-2 0-0 3.

Totals 23-50 23-29 77.

Halftime—Utah St. 31-29. End Of R egulation—Tied 65. 3-Point Goals—UC Santa Barbara 9-21 (Boswell 7-11, Childress 1-2, Brown 1-5, Walker 0-1, Harmon 0-2), Utah St. 8-20 (Butterfield 4-7, Medlin 2-6, Roland 1-1, Clifford 1-1, Moore 0-1, K. Davis 0-1, Berger 0-1, M. Davis 0-2). Fouled Out—Brown, Clifford, Stone. Rebounds—UC Santa Barbara 29 (Williams 9), Utah St. 40 (Butterfield, K. Davis 10). Assists—UC Santa Barbara 18 (Harmon 5), Utah St. 17 (M. Davis 8). Total Fouls—UC Santa Barbara 23, Utah St. 16. A—9,809..

Troy at Utah State

O Saturday, 8 p.m.

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