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Steve Luhm and Lya Wodraska cover Utah State athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. Lya Wodraska is on twitter at @LyaWodraska, Steve Luhm is on twitter at @sluhm

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Utah State notebook — Spencer Butterfield talks SDSU game (VIDEO), plus more on Moore

Hey all, thought I'd add some extra notes from Saturday's game, including the above video of Spencer Butterfield talking about the close 74-69 overtime loss to San Diego State. Here's some of the top subplots coming out of Logan after the weekend:

Moore steps up

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In the 2013 signing class, arguably the biggest coup for Utah State was holding on to hometown and legacy prospect Jalen Moore.

All season, the freshman forward has shown flashes of his potential - alley-oops, momentum-seizing dunks, big hops for high rebounds - but on Saturday, he started putting it all together. With 16 points and seven rebounds, Moore showed why folks in Cache Valley have been so excited about him for such a long time.

Outside of Butterfield's shot, Moore had some of the biggest baskets of the game: a drive into the lane for a contested layup, a putback finish on a short 3-pointer, and one or two others. His speed and ability to leap out of the gym are assets for Utah State.

Moore said he was inspired after a so-so night at UNLV in which he only had two boards starting in Kyle Davis' place.

"Yeah, I knew I was going to have to step my game up, rebound a little more than I did in the UNLV game, so I tried to do that. I tried to step up my game to help my team."

Utah State will need Moore to play at that level this week as the Aggies will be facing some of the toughest post players in the conference. Although New Mexico center Alex Kirk is a question mark for Tuesday's game, the Aggies still will have to contend with Cameron Bairstow, who is a midseason candidate for the Wooden Award. When USU heads to Laramie, they'll take on Larry Nance Jr., one of the league's top double-double threats and a vicious shotblocker, to boot.

Roland holds composure

Although Marcel Davis returned to the starting lineup against the Aztecs, it was easy to see the Aggies' point guard of choice facing down SDSU's pressure.

TeNale Roland played 32 minutes to Davis' 13, and he had nine assists and only one turnover against San Diego State. Even facing a significant amount of hassle, especially in the second half, Roland kept his cool and was a steady hand bringing the ball up the court.

The Aggies missed that presence in overtime when he fouled out 20 seconds before the end of regulation. Davis ended up with four turnovers to go with three assists, and a critical turnover came in overtime.

"TeNale was playing great, handling the pressure really well," Butterfield said. "Obviously it hurt not to have him as well as Jarred Shaw in overtime. That would have helped a lot."

Not much court storming lately

It's tough to beat a top-25 team, as Saturday night showed, and it has been a while since the Aggies have done it.

Utah State has lost its last seven games against top-25 teams in the AP poll, and Stew Morrill is now 5-16 as head coach of the Aggies in those games. It's been a tough few years to get those wins, as Morrill started out 5-9 in his Utah State tenure.

Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



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