LOGAN -- The 7,919 fans in the Smith Spectrum Saturday night were loudest when swingman Marvin Jean made a steal in the backcourt and -- almost directly in front of Utah State coach and notorious disciplinarian Stew Morrill -- pulled up for a 3-pointer.
With a swish that had little doubt along the way, it defined USU's matchup, the finale of the World Vision Challenge, against Southern Illinois: one propelled by isolated plays that stirred the crowd and lifted the Aggies (9-1) above the physical play the Salukis (7-4) offered. USU beat SIU 70-58 Saturday night to remain the only winner in the history of their own tournament.
A monstrous throwdown from forward Kyisean Reed in the first half. An old-fashioned three-point play from Reed with 12:25 remaining -- less than two minutes removed from Jean's one-man display.
Then, the play that brought a reception rivaling Jean's. Guard Preston Medlin's baseball pass caused forward Ben Clifford to find himself awkwardly lodged between the backboard and west baseline. Finding himself with limited reasonable scoring options, he bailed out by swinging to Reed beyond the arc. Reed didn't show a split-second of hesitation with 7:46 left, as he flew across the key for a dunk Dominique Wilkins would be proud of.
"Those are always good," Morrill said. "I don't know if they're more important than other plays, but we needed an energy boost. With our guys worn down, it's nice to get a few of those."
The baskets were part of a tremendous overall night for the senior. Reed scored 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting to lead USU. Preston Medlin scored 16 points -- including 3-of-4 from distance -- while Jean and point guard Marcel Davis added eight and nine, respectively.
SIU guard Desmar Jackson scored eight straight points -- including two straight 3-pointers -- for the Salukis, the last a floater in the lane to make it a 10-point game with one minute to play. Morrill expressed pride in Reed for being consistent in practices and, in an understanding of this being his final collegiate year, limiting moments of listlessness within games.
"(Reed) practices with a whole lot of energy," Morrill said. "He's a whole different guy this year day-in and day out-- and he's playing his tail off."
Reed led the way on a night where USU lacked Spencer Butterfield, who already had seen increased playing time in place of Danny Berger, who on Dec. 4 suffered cardiac arrest. With flu like symptoms and dizziness, Reed played small forward for four-to-six minute stretches for the first time in his career. Morrill said Butterfield asked to play, but after acknowledging his own dizziness, Butterfield received a prompt response from the 15th-year head coach.
"I said, 'well, you can't go -- you can't play basketball really dizzy," Morrill said. "He's a tough kid."
An all-tournament team selection, Jackson led the tournament in scoring, averaging 22.7 points per game. He scored 29 on 11-of-16 shooting on Saturday, including a 5-of-7 display beyond the arc.
Kyisean Reed was named MVP of the tournament, while Preston Medlin was part of the all-tournament team.