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Utah State basketball: Stone stepping up with increased minutes
College basketball » Center shows solid play off the bench.
First Published Feb 21 2013 08:31 pm • Last Updated May 21 2013 11:34 pm

Jordan Stone has worked his way into fans’ hearts this season — the Aggie faithful have roared every time the Smithfield native has grabbed a rebound or blocked a shot. The occasional points have been gravy.

But now the sophomore is working his way onto the court more often, and he’s playing some pretty effective minutes.

At a glance

Illinois State at Utah State

Saturday, 7 p.m.

Stone taking on larger role

Past 8 games » 4.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 10-for-16 shooting, 6 blocks

Previous 8 games » 0.4 ppg, 1 rpg, 1-for-5 shooting, 1 block

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Stone’s defense was key in helping Utah State gain some momentum toward the end of the BYU game. With Jarred Shaw and Ben Clifford in serious second-half foul trouble, Stone played a career-high 25 minutes and ended up with nine points and four blocks.

"You gotta be ready for whatever comes," Stone said. "Someone gets in foul trouble, someone’s gotta step up and do their part."

Immediately after Matt Lopez became eligible, Stone was all but glued to the bench for seven games. But gradually, the centers’ roles have switched as Stone has shown himself to be a reliable presence on the defensive end.

He doesn’t quite rebound or score with the best of them, but Stone is physical and isn’t afraid to body up on his man. On Tuesday night, BYU found it hard to drive on him as he manned the middle and racked up half of the Aggies’ rejections.

The most surprising part of his performance? Only one foul and no turnovers in a game filled with both. It suggests Stone is getting used to playing a bigger role off the bench.

"Any time you get more minutes, you get more comfortable," he said. "Kind of the flow the game gets with you. It definitely helps."

Still, he had his not-so-sterling moments, including a 5-for-9 night at the free-throw line. And even though Stone threw down one of his best nights on Tuesday, he would’ve rather won.

"It’s always been a big game, it’s a big rivalry, you want to win," he said. "But nothing much you can do now. Just wait for the next game, play hard the next one."


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kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



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