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Utah State basketball: Quiet finish for senior guards

Published March 13, 2014 6:24 pm

USU notes • Medlin, Butterfield, Roland all go out with subpar games.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Las Vegas • For most of Utah State's senior class, their final conference tournament was a muted closing chapter on their college careers.

Along with lowest offensive output for the Aggies since 1994, some of the team's biggest stars had their toughest nights of the season. It wasn't an ideal way to go out, but shooting was tough in the 73-39 loss to San Diego State.

"They took us out of all of our stuff," Preston Medlin said. "They made us turn it over, and we didn't do a very good job of defending their motion. They pretty much scored at will. And when you're not scoring on the other end, it's pretty much impossible to win."

Medlin tied his season low with only three points, all on free throws. For the first time all season, he didn't make a field goal.

Things weren't great for the other senior guards either. Spencer Butterfield had a season low, shooting only 1 for 6 with two points. TeNale Roland, fresh off a strong performance against Colorado State, was held to a single point and didn't have an assist.

The only senior who didn't disappoint was Jarred Shaw, who was 6-for-11 with a team best 14 points, matching the number of field goals scored by the rest of the team. But even he had his struggles, notably finishing with only three rebounds as the Aztecs finished with a plus-eight margin.

"Today, it was kind of like we weren't up," Shaw said. "We didn't make shots we normally make. We just give credit to their defense."

Extra possessions, chances fuel SDSU

The secret to the Aztecs' success isn't hard to figure out: They get a lot more shots than their opponents.

That formula played out perfectly for San Diego State on Thursday. Even beyond its sizeable gap in shooting percentage, it outshot the Aggies 59 attempts to 41. And those extra chances came chiefly through two places: turnovers and offensive rebounds.

The Aztecs got 14 turnovers thanks to their pressure, which included 11 steals. Off of those turnovers, they scored 22 points. Off of 10 offensive rebounds, they got 14 second-chance points. It's a lot easier to win when an opponent spots them those advantages.

"You feel good when you win," coach Steve Fisher said. "You feel better when you win the way we did."

Unfortunate records for Aggies

A day after shooting the most 3-pointers (11) ever in a first-round game, Utah State was stuck with a number of other ignomonous records.

The 34-point win for San Diego State was the largest-ever margin of victory in the Mountain West tournament, surpassing Boise State's win over San Jose State just the day before. Utah State also tied records for fewest field goals in a tournament game (12) and fewest 3-pointers in a tournament game (one).

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon