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Utah State basketball: Aggies can’t handle Wyoming on the road
College basketball » Utah State loses its fifth straight game.
First Published Feb 01 2014 04:16 pm • Last Updated Feb 03 2014 02:13 pm

Laramie, Wyo. • Utah State didn’t need any more punctuation on its latest loss. Wyoming’s Derek Cooke Jr. put a point on it anyway.

As he dunked for the last time, giving the Cowboys a 20-point lead with less than three minutes to play, the Aggies could really only watch. The way Wyoming had batted them around for most of the game, it was perhaps only fitting.

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Utah State (12-9, 2-7) continued what has grown to a five-game tailspin, losing another Mountain West conference game, 74-57, to the Cowboys (14-7, 5-3) in surprisingly muted fashion on the road Saturday afternoon.

"They controlled the game," coach Stew Morrill said wearily. "They just kind of toyed with us. We weren’t very good on offense, we weren’t very good on defense, but a lot of it had to do with them."

With the exception of about 10 minutes midway through the first half, Utah State seemed adrift in more ways than one.

The Aggies struggled to shoot, getting only 40 percent of their attempts down, and had only seven assists — far from the passing standard they’ve had this year. On defense, Wyoming often cruised by them for dunks, launched over them for 3-pointers, or simply drew fouls to get to the line.

Utah State mixed and matched to find answers, starting Preston Medlin at point guard to get more size and talent on the court, but the lineup was quickly scrapped as Utah State fell to a 14-4 deficit out of the gate. The Aggies wound up playing 10 players for nine minutes or more in an effort to find a spark.

Though Utah State came back and eventually would tie the game three times thanks in part to a bench effort, a Cowboys rally that started at the end of the first half carried into the second, and Wyoming simply ran away.

"We did a good job coming back in the first half, coming out of the hole," Medlin said. "Then the second half started and they hit some shots. It just kind of took the wind out of us."

As the Cowboys shot 53.3 percent from the floor and made 18 of their 21 free throws, Utah State seemed unsure of how to get points, as it had against Nevada and UNLV in road games early in the year. After Medlin started the game penetrating, Wyoming leapt into passing lanes and did its best to deny easy shots around the rim. The Aggies managed only 16 points in the paint, and leading scorer Jarred Shaw was held to four points on 2-for-8 shooting.

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Spencer Butterfield led the team with 12 points, and Medlin added 11. No one else had more than Jojo McGlaston’s seven.

Wyoming was led by guard Josh Adams, who had a game-high 19 points and eight assists despite being ejected for a flagrant foul on Butterfield in the second half.

Utah State next has a two-game road slate to kick off the second half of conference play, but it is an understatement to say the Aggies are concerned about what lies ahead.

"We can’t play offense, we can’t play defense, we’ve lost our confidence," Morrill said. "We’re going to have to have a full flip in the second half to compete in this league."


Twitter: @kylegoon

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