Logan • If Friday night’s win was good for morale, Saturday night was good for Utah State’s nerves.
An easy 71-50 win over Troy (4-7) was a sweet send-off for the Aggies (9-2), who finished 3-0 in their holiday tournament at the Spectrum. After beating UC Santa Barbara in overtime the night before, Utah State blitzed the Trojans early and ended up emptying the bench.
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UC Santa Barbara 61, Western Illinois 55 » The Gauchos managed to pull ahead late and sealed up the game with some free throws. Forward Alan Williams carried UCSB with 22 points and 16 rebounds. The Leathernecks lost their second game of the tournament, as Jabari Sandifer led with 13.
Danny Berger led the team with 17 points, as Utah State played the Trojans small and scored with ease. Defensively, the Aggies flustered their visitors with man defense that left them clamoring for points from the start.
Rattling off four straight wins less than two weeks ahead of Mountain West play, the Aggies feel good about where they are, even with Jarred Shaw in limbo on a suspension. The team shared the ball well, and played the defense coach Stew Morrill has come to expect.
"Not bad," Morrill said, summing up the weekend. "We played really hard all three nights."
Utah State won its 48th straight game at its home-hosted tournament. Spencer Butterfield was named tournament MVP on the strength of his 31-point performance against UC Santa Barbara.
The final game of the Basketball Travelers, Inc., Classic was essentially a victory lap. Utah State ran over Troy, with 20 assists on 26 field goals and the bench accounting for 45 points.
The first half was all Aggies, as Utah State cruised to a 14-0 advantage. The going didn’t get any easier early for the Trojans, who didn’t score a field goal in the final 8:16 of the half.
The opposite was true for the Aggies, who found lots of ways to score early. Utah State had assists on 12 of its first 15 baskets, and nine players had field goals in the first half. The Aggies had a little fun at Troy’s expense, as Jalen Moore and Berger each flushed alley-oop dunks before the intermission with a 22-point lead
"We came out with a little more energy than they did in the beginning," Butterfield said. "Playing defense the way we did, I think we were just able to get on them right from the start."
The Trojans had a second wind after the intermission, scoring 34 points in the second half. But Utah State still pressed down upon them on defense, holding Troy to 29.2 percent shooting for the game.
Berger played a large role in keeping Utah State’s hefty lead, scoring 13 second-half points to tie his career high. Moore added 11 points.
Preston Medlin and Kyle Davis were honored on the all-tournament team with UC Santa Barbara standouts Alan Williams and Kyle Boswell and Western Illinois’ Adam Link.
Utah State next takes on San Diego Christian at home on Dec. 28.
UC Santa Barbara 61, Western Illinois 55 • The Gauchos managed to pull ahead late and sealed up the game with some free throws. Forward Alan Williams carried UCSB with 22 points and 16 rebounds.
The Leathernecks lost their second game of the tournament, as Jabari Sandifer led with 13.
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