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Utah State basketball thin in frontcourt with injury to Ben Clifford

Published September 25, 2013 6:02 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • Utah State men's basketball is coming off a season when it suffered injuries unprecedented in the program's history.

Unfortunately for Stew Morrill and the Aggies, this season has started off with yet another tough blow: Junior forward Ben Clifford will miss 8 to 10 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot.

Utah State begins practice Friday, but will have to do so without one of its most experienced frontcourt players. He made 16 starts last season, taking on a bigger role after Kyisean Reed was lost for the year. He averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds for the season.

Clifford's foot has been surgically repaired, patched with a screw. The Aggies will have to get through a chunk of the preseason without one of their veterans at a key position.

"He got a lot of experience last year, and we were looking forward to his experience and having him out there," Morrill said. "We've adjusted a little bit in positions."

The Aggies are already thin at the position, which it will try to fill with players who have yet to take the court for the team. Southern Utah transfer Kyle Davis, a sophomore, will likely see time at Clifford's 4-spot, while senior Sean Harris, who has been beset by knee injuries, could get in as well.

Morrill also said the team will also use "stretch fours" such as junior Danny Berger and freshman Jalen Moore to add some versatility and depth in the frontcourt. Both normally play at the wing spots.

Clifford's injury is the most serious the team is facing as it prepares to start practice. Morrill indicated Wednesday that most of the team will be able to participate, including Preston Medlin, who suffered a wrist fracture last season.

Medlin, a senior, said the team's experience with injuries will help them deal with the latest.

"We've dealt with injuries before like last year, so we just got to step up," he said. "Everybody's got to be accountable. It happened early in the season, so guys will have more time to practice and get used to it. Hopefully they can step up into the role that we need them in."

The Tribune will have a Utah State basketball preview on Thursday to advance the start of practice.

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon