Logan • Standing ovations on Senior Night at the Spectrum are usually reserved for those playing their last games in front of the Utah State faithful.
Preston Medlin received a standing ovation on Friday night.
He's a sophomore.
That should tell you how good he was against Idaho.
In a 67-50 win over the Vandals, Medlin reached a level that only the great Utah State players have gotten to. He scored 32 points, a career high, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out five assists in 36 spectacular minutes.
To get a better understanding of how good a performance this was, Medlin scored 27 of those points in the second half. Medlin went 11 for 13 from the field and 6 for 8 from 3-point range while turning the ball over just once.
It was the most points for an Aggie since Gary Wilkinson scored 33 in an overtime win over Fresno State in 2009.
"I thought I wanted to be a little more aggressive in the second half," Medlin said. "I only had five points in the first half, and we weren't playing well offensively. My shot felt good in the second half, and we got going as a team."
For Utah State, this was a much-needed win over a good team. And it wasn't easy. The Aggies found themselves down 29-14 with five minutes remaining in the first half. Another ugly defeat seemed inevitable. All of the energy in the student section created from Senior Night festivities had long dissipated.
That's when USU saved the game, and maybe a winning season. The Aggies closed the half with eight consecutive points. They opened the second half with a 12-2 run. USU played better defensively than it had in almost a month. Open shots that were there for Idaho in the first half were no longer available.
"They dominated us in the second half," Vandals coach Don Verlin said. "They made good adjustments at halftime, and they completely dominated us physically in the second half. They did a good job of executing their offense. They did a good job of getting Medlin the ball, and he stepped up like the player he is. They got ahead, they got the momentum and with this crowd that's how it goes."
With Medlin hitting all six of his 3-point attempts in the second half, and with the defense creating turnovers, Utah State pulled ahead and expanded the lead once it got the advantage.
It was the most dominant win for the Aggies since they defeated Kent State 81-62 at the Gossner Tournament on Dec. 22.
Senior guard Brockeith Pane scored 12 points and handed out seven assists. His defense vs. Idaho point guard Landon Tatum was a big key as well. Former Utah State point guard Deremy Geiger led the Vandals with 13 points and four assists. He was the only Idaho player to reach double figures.
"We got way down, and I'm proud of our guys for hanging in their mentally and playing," USU coach Stew Morrill said.
"We had a really good second half. Preston made some shots, obviously that helped, but we guarded well, and that's what put us over the top."
R In short • Utah State overcomes a slow start and moves to 15-14 on the season.
Key moment • Down 29-14, Utah State outscores Idaho 53-21 for the remainder of the game.
Key stat • Preston Medlin scores 27 of his career-high 32 points in the second half.