LOGAN -- You would've thought that the emotion which permeated the Smith Spectrum when the hobbled Brady Jardine was honored for Senior Night may have been strong enough to sustain Utah State Friday against Idaho.
Eventually, it did. It just took more than 15 minutes of game time and a lot of Preston Medlin for it to happen.
Behind a career-high 32 points from Medlin, the sophomore guard, the Aggies (15-14, 6-6 WAC) throttled Idaho 45-21 in the second half to overcome an early 15-point deficit and win 67-50. Medlin scored 27 points came after intermission as USU made 15-of-20 shots in the second half after shooting a pivotal 9-for-32 before halftime. Of those scores, 11 came from Medlin, including a 6-for-8 display from distance. Medlin's second-half display bested that of Jaycee Carroll's Feb. 5, 2007, home outing against New Mexico State, when the Evanston, Wyo., native scored 26 points after halftime.
"It was great to feel it like I was," Medlin said. "We just got playing with more energy and put it together like we knew we could."
The way the Aggies responded to the stirring ovation the crowd gave to Jardine -- the finance and marketing major wore his jersey one final time Friday, marking the first occasion he had donned the mesh since injuring his foot Nov. 19 against Southern Utah -- it's hard to doubt that the team had any other plans.
USU coach Stew Morrill said that he didn't say anything particularly riling to his club at halftime, after they had finished the half with an 8-0 run to close the 29-14 gap, to set in motion the dramatic turnaround.
"We encouraged them that they were getting good looks and that they would fall," Morrill said. "I am really proud of our guys for hanging in there mentally and playing."
Early on, it seemed as though the Aggies had already fallen. Former USU guard Deremy Geiger scored five early points to help the Vandals (16-12, 7-5) jump to a 10-2 lead in the first few minutes of the contest, an advantage that swelled to 15 after another Deiger jumper with 4:19 to go. That's when the Aggies did their share of chipping before they really did their work of annihilation in the second half, starting with two consecutive 3-pointers from point guard Brockeith Pane, who was celebrating Senior Night with Jardine and post Morgan Grim. Pane struggled from the field, shooting 4-for-12 but dishing seven assists. Grim scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds in his encore performance in Logan.
USU's first lead of the contest, in fact, came by -- what else? -- a 3-pointer from Medlin less than four minutes into the second half. Idaho stayed within single digits for the next seven minutes before another Medlin bomb increased a lead that grew to as high as 18 with 2:32 left.
"It is always interesting when you are going through a tough spell. Everybody has you not winning another game and all those kinds of things," said Morrill before adding that the attitude of the team has always remained positive despite the mediocre play. "I am proud of our guys for finding a way."
For Grim, it meant all sorts of hope.
"Look at the New York Giants. All they needed was to make a run late in the year," he said. "We've already proven that we can play with anyone in the conference."
The Aggies turn to a road trip March 1 and 3 at San Jose State and Hawaii before entering the WAC Tournament, which will be March 8-10 in Las Vegas, Nev.