Logan • They were sloppy, but at least the Aggies clean up after themselves.
Led by an overpowering effort in the paint and on the glass, Utah State (10-2) notched an 84-53 win over visiting NAIA team San Diego Christian (3-4) on Saturday night at the Spectrum. Both Kyle Davis and Spencer Butterfield had double-doubles as the Aggies picked up almost every rebound when the game was still on the line.
With a plus-39 mark on the boards, Davis and Butterfield were competing with each other for rebounds as much as the other team.
“We were attacking it really hard and just had bigger guys ultimately,” said Davis who had 15 and 15 for his third double-double this year. “We were trying to crash it because that’s where we really knew we could get a big advantage.”
Among Utah State’s 56 rebounds were 25 offensive boards, which translated into 29 points off of second chances. The Aggies owned the paint, culling a 36-10 scoring advantage inside.
That advantage washed away a lot of Utah State’s sins in a rusty comeback from Christmas break against perhaps the least formidable opponent of the year. The Aggies turned the ball over 15 times, played pedestrian defense in the first half, and were a bit off shooting the ball at times — all things coach Stew Morrill attributed to the weeklong holiday layover.
With the team’s first Mountain West game at Air Force on Wednesday, Utah State hopes it won’t have the same problems starting out in its new conference.
“We gotta get better in a hurry for Mountain West play,” Morrill said. “We need to play defense like our football team.”
Utah State didn’t quite measure up to the Aggie football team’s performance in the Poinsettia Bowl to start. The Hawks hung around, knocking back six 3-pointers in the first half while shooting 41.7 percent from the field.
But the Aggies came out of the halftime break charging, going on a 21-5 run early in the second period to put SDC to bed. Utah State assisted on 20 of its 30 field goals, and cut back on turnovers as the game went on. The Aggies also shot six 3-pointers in the second half.
Preston Medlin led all scorers with 17 points, while Butterfield had 11 points, 13 rebounds and a team-high five assists. Junior center Jordan Stone was the fourth Aggie to clear double figures with a career-high 12 points.
“We had to break off the rust and play hard. That’s what we tried to do,” Stone said. “It was a little sketchy at times, but we came back and played hard.”
The Aggies go forward into the Mountain West with five wins at their back, but also uncertainty ahead. Senior center Jarred Shaw, who was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, is indefinitely suspended from the team as he faces a felony drug charge.
Still, Utah State was feeling confident after its last win. Clean up a few things here and there, Stone said, and the Aggies should be good to go.
“We’re gonna be [ready] — we better be,” he said. “It’s coming. We’ll be ready.”