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Utah State basketball: Paint domination leads to another win
First Published Feb 08 2014 10:16 pm • Last Updated Feb 25 2014 04:42 pm

Logan » Feed the paint.

That directive has long been a cornerstone of Utah State’s offense. And winning back-to-back games, the Aggies have re-embraced that philosophy.

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The stats from Saturday’s 76-70 win over Boise State reflected the Aggies’ interior focus: 42 points in the paint, and 26 defensive rebounds to only six offensive boards for the Broncos. Internal focus has helped open up Utah State’s play.

Jarred Shaw muscled out his second straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, making Boise State big men Ryan Watkins and Nick Duncan look silly trying to play defense. Kyle Davis had another workmanlike evening, with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.

"They had a hard time guarding those two," coach Stew Morrill said. "It’s difficult because if you double off the guys we have, we have a lot of guys who can make threes. They were fortunately down there a lot one-on-one, and both of them produced."

The attention to the inside represents the Aggies going back to a focus that served them well early in the season. Although Utah State remains one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation, their preference is to work inside out.

"We always know we need to be aggressive," Preston Medlin said. "We kind of got away from that and settled for outside shots. I feel like we were aggressive, we got into the post, and that’s what we want."

Kyle Davis improves on charity stripe

The Aggies needn’t have worried with 2:35 left, up only three and Kyle Davis at the line.

The first one was clean. The second rattled around the rim a bit just before sinking in, as he finished 7-for-7 on free throws Saturday night. It was a key moment in Utah State’s push to close out, and it represents a big step forward for Davis.

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The sophomore was once a question mark every time out shooting free throws. Entering Saturday’s game, he had a 64.7 percent mark from the line, one of the lowest marks on the team.

But in Utah State’s past two games, both wins, he’s gotten to the line a lot. Davis has made 17 of his last 19. Stretching back four games, he’s 22-for-25 since returning from a knee injury.

"He’s a tough minded guy," Morrill said. "He expects perfection from himself. So he’s really worked on it, that’s what he’s done. He’s gotten himself a routine, a rhythm. He felt comfortable up there tonight."

Medlin, Shaw up career lists

The Aggies’ most veteran player led again in scoring Saturday, and he’s rapidly moving up some of the best scorers in school history. Medlin now has 1,275 points in his career. He moved ahead of Bob Lauriski and now stands at No. 19 among the program’s best.

Senior center Jarred Shaw, only in his second year at Utah State, had two blocks to give him 56 in his career. He’s now No. 11 among Utah State’s top shotblockers in a tie with Kendall Youngblood.


Twitter: @kylegoon

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