Logan • On Saturday night, Jarred Shaw clicked.
The junior, a transfer who is playing his first season in a Utah State jersey, has been called upon to be a leader for a team that has had to stagger on without many of its leaders.
Against Louisiana Tech, he started looking the part.
He challenged inside for rebounds, and he swatted shots of any Bulldogs that dared enter his radius. For maybe the first time in Western Athletic Conference play, he was Utah State's best man on the floor. And his performance clearly lifted the chances for the Aggies to win.
"I thought Jarred was totally playing as hard as he could play, which we needed him to do," coach Stew Morrill said. "It was a kind of grind-out game, probably the kind of game we had a chance in."
The knocks on Shaw have been that he shies away from contact, that he doesn't hustle on every play, that he doesn't play defense. He answered each of those criticisms on Saturday, albeit each to a different degree.
Most emphatically, Shaw played hard for his 35 minutes. He was around the rim for putbacks, playing a big part in Utah State's second-chance opportunities. His deft touch led him to a career-high 21 points.
He scored not just with the spin hooks and jumpers that fans have become accustomed to seeing, but also with drives to the rim. He drew contact, got to the free-throw line. He still doesn't always finish through that contact, but the progress was welcome.
Shaw was a big reason fans were as loud as they have been this season. His hustle, and the hustle of his teammates, helped the Spectrum live up to its reputation.
And even though the disappointment was crushing, even though the win slipped away, there was some semblance of hope. If Shaw can play to his potential more often, the Aggies will have more chances to win games.
And moreover, Shaw seems to realize it, too.
"I washed all the negativity from my life," he said. "I've been in a bit of a slump and down on myself. I just thank God I had a great game tonight."
Jarred Shaw has big night despite loss
• The junior transfer has a career-high 21 points.
• Shaw helps lead Utah State to a 50-31 rebounding margin.
• He notches his seventh double-double of the season.