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Utah State basketball: Aggie seniors still trying to improve their legacy

First Published Mar 04 2014 10:12 pm • Last Updated Mar 04 2014 10:13 pm

Logan • Even though five seniors will take center court before Wednesday night’s game, Preston Medlin stands alone.

By far the most experienced Aggie, Medlin was there for some of the Aggies’ best seasons. He is among the last Utah State players to have gone to the Big Dance. He’s seen Stew Morrill’s 500th win as well as his 600th.

At a glance

Wyoming at Utah State

Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, Logan

Tipoff »  Wednesday, 8 p.m.

TV »  Root Sports

Radio »  1280 AM

Records » USU (16-13, 6-11); UW (17-12, 8-8)

Series history »  UW leads, 45-23

Last meeting » Feb. 1, at UW; UW 74, USU 57

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The Texan is strongly linked to the Aggies’ history. And he’s hoping he and his fellow seniors aren’t yet done carving their place in it.

"It’s just one of those things where you can’t give up," he said. "You don’t want to look back on it and say, ‘Man, we gave up. We didn’t play very well.’ That’s something I think the seniors don’t want to do. We’re still going to fight to the very end."

Five Aggies will be honored before Utah State (16-13, 6-11) takes on Wyoming at the Spectrum, the last regular home game of the year. On the eve of that game, this sizeable senior class - Spencer Butterfield, Sean Harris, Medlin, TeNale Roland and Jarred Shaw - already has a somewhat mixed legacy.

On one hand, several of them will go down as brilliant and talented players. Butterfield has been on of Utah State’s most effective shooters in two years while rebounding well beyond his 6-foot-3 height. Shaw’s length and offensive touch has sometimes made him a dominant low-post force. Medlin dots the top 10 lists of volumes of Aggie records.

But in wins and losses, this group hasn’t had the senior season it hoped. The Aggies have a losing conference record for the first time ever under Morrill, and their somewhat mercurial nature this season has been hard to fully understand. A 14-season streak of 21 wins or more is in serious jeopardy unless the Aggies can rally into a postseason tournament.

But perhaps more than any other class, these Utah State seniors were as much affected by circumstance as their own play. Between a multitude of injuries last season and a conference transition for this one, these Aggies have had a higher calling than most.

They don’t make excuses for what has been a disappointing year. But they still want to make up for it.

"We definitely have had to make adjustments, and there’s been adversity along the way," Butterfield said. "But I think the team responded pretty well in both situations. I think last year we finished pretty strong, and this year, I think we’re going to make some noise in the tournament."

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The awkward transition to the Mountain West has been this team’s burden, and the Aggies definitely struggled. Utah State lost too many close games, including against Air Force or Fresno State. There were embarrasing losses against UNLV and Wyoming.

But what the seniors will remember — and what they hope fans will remember — are moments of resilience. When Shaw was suspended, how the Aggies scraped for an overtime win over UC Santa Barbara. How Butterfield hit a shot to force overtime against the No. 7 team in the nation.

That lasting impression is still being built, they realize. They still can color how they are remembered. If playing Wyoming is the last chance the Spectrum crowd gets to see these five, they want to make it memorable in the best way possible.


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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