Utah State basketball: Aggies' offense rolling again

Published February 9, 2014 5:00 pm
Utah State basketball • Two-game homestand revives attack.
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Logan • With a 6-foot-8 forward struggling to keep up with him, Utah State's Preston Medlin made the most of his opening.

The senior guard's 3-pointer over Boise State's Nick Duncan, a shot he buried while falling to the court, sparked an Aggies run, one that continued as Medlin found a streaking Jalen Moore for a layup. It was followed by layups for Jarred Shaw, a jumper for Spencer Butterfield and free throws all around.

Utah State fans could get used to seeing that kind of offense more consistently.

"We had a hard time stopping them, but they had a little bit of a harder time stopping us," coach Stew Morrill said. "It was an offensive-type basketball game in a lot of ways."

The Aggies (14-9, 4-7) found a lot of ways to hurt Boise State on the offensive end en route to a 76-70 victory Saturday. Shaw and Kyle Davis pounded inside. Medlin and Butterfield hit some outside shots, but also drove in for jumpers and floaters that fell a little more easily. For one stretch of six minutes in the second half, the Aggies scored at least a point on eight of 10 possessions.

In its worst losses, against UNLV and Wyoming, Utah State struggled to create that caliber of offensive efficiency. Two straight wins against Mountain West opponents that beat them earlier in the year — Nevada and Boise State — have given the Aggies hope that they've found a way to compete in their new league.

From the start of the season, the team's big selling points were shooting and passing. In the two home wins this week, Utah State shot a combined 53 percent from the field while assisting on almost 64 percent of its baskets.

The return to that formula has been marked by a spike in aggression from the team as well. Instead of settling for outside shots, the Aggies have been consciously working the ball inside and allowing Jarred Shaw and Kyle Davis to draw defenses into the paint to open things up for the guards.

In the second half of both games, Medlin has made a dramatic impact as well: The senior guard has scored 28 points after halftime in the past two wins.

"That step-back in that guy's face — that was sweet, that got us pumped up," Davis said. "He's our leader in that sense. We kind of go as he goes."

Utah State is now preparing to go to Fort Collins to face Colorado State, a team it beat earlier in the year in a defensive scrap. Winning its first road game in the conference would offer another step forward as the Aggies try to dig themselves out of a hole they dug in the first half of conference play.

No one can say for sure if the offensive potency can carry over, but Utah State is feeling confident that it will. Morrill said he's been impressed with his team's positive attitude in practice in the last week, and winning has only lifted the group more.

"I think [we've got] just a lot of confidence, which is something we needed to build," Davis said. "We're back, I think you could say."


Twitter: @kylegoon —

USU heats up

In two home games last week, Utah State' offense shined:

• The Aggies shoot 53 percent for the week.

• Utah State assists on 63.6 percent of its field goals.

• Spencer Butterfield, Preston Medlin, Jarred Shaw and Kyle Davis score in double figures in both games. —

Utah State at Colorado State

P Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.

TV • CBS Sports Network

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