Utah State basketball: Aggies beat down Mississippi State Bulldogs, 87-68
Logan • All week, Jalen Moore said, the Aggies had gotten an earful of how athletic Mississippi State was.
They rebound the ball, their coaches said, and they defend tough. Over the course of a week of practice, it had been drilled into their heads that they'd have to compete as hard as they could.
Maybe the Bulldogs didn't hear enough about Utah State, which cruised to its fourth straight win in a physical 87-68 victory on Saturday night.
"We played awesome," said Moore, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds. "I think we dealt well with their pressure. We prepared for that."
Early sloppy play gave way to sharp shooting by the Aggies, who got their third double-digit win and the second over a power conference opponent. A big night on the glass helped Utah State defend its home court and pull away.
After running out the first SEC team to visit the Spectrum since 1985, Utah State coach Stew Morrill joked it may be another few decades before any power conference team dares to make the trip themselves.
"You guys know the years it's been since we've had teams from the SEC and the Pac-12," Morrill said. "It's nice to have them come here and us take care of business and get a win."
That advantage was built in the rebounding battle, which Utah State won 41-23. Jarred Shaw and Moore led with eight apiece, while Jordan Stone and Spencer Butterfield each had six. MSU, used to getting its share of second chances, was held to six offensive rebounds on the night as the Aggies hustled after every missed shot.
It was no surprise who led the scoring: Senior guard Preston Medlin had 21 points, including four 3-pointers, to go with a team-leading six assists. Shaw had 17 and Butterfield had 16.
Utah State initially struggled to score against a pressuring zone by the Bulldogs. But as the 3-point shooting heated up, MSU was forced to spread out and open things up for Shaw and others inside.
It was a losing battle, Morrill observed, as the Aggies shot a blistering 5-for-8 from beyond the arc, and improved their shooting percentages in the second half after getting a 41-28 lead at halftime.
"Even if you're that athletic, it's hard to maintain that pressure for 40 minutes," Morrill said. "As it relaxed a little bit, we got a little more cleaner looks at the basket."
That included the cleanest looks at the basket: Free throws.
The Bulldogs couldn't stop fouling in the second half, drawing up 26 personals in the game. Utah State did its part by sinking free throws, going 13 for 17 from the line in the final 20 minutes.
Topping MSU doesn't bring much rest for the Aggies, who play at Weber State on Tuesday before tipping off against BYU next weekend at EnergySolutions Arena.
At least as the hours waned Saturday night, Utah State had a little time to savor its latest triumph.
"It's a great win for us," Medlin said. "In practice this week, we did a good job of getting the scout team pressuring us. We kind of figured it out."
Utah State runs away from Bulldogs
R Preston Medlin leads with 21 points and six assists
• The Aggies shoot 47.8 percent from 3-point range
• Utah State gets a 41-23 advantage on the boards