LOGAN — Kyisean Reed enjoys going by @flyboy34 on Twitter. The nouns in the handle express his propensity to use his team-best vertical leap to soar as much as possible near-rim; the number, how thousands of college basketball fans have come to know the 6-foot-6 senior forward.
Though known for his crowd-pleasing dunks, he certainly gained more familiarity with Aggie fans Thursday night in a 75-66 USU win over Seattle in the Smith Spectrum. It amounted to a couple of self-made plays in the final two minutes. Playing with four fouls and his team clinging onto a newly-made two-possession lead, Reed’s personal press break and breakaway throwdown seconds later lifted USU (12-1, 3-0 WAC) to their 12th straight win. Seattle (5-7, 0-2) led with as little as five-and-a-half minutes left before 3-pointers from guards Spencer Butterfield and Preston Medlin put the Redhawks in catch-up mode.
That’s where Reed capitalized.
“I am quicker than any other big guy. I like to use that to my advantage,” said Reed, whose 20-point, 10-rebound night marked his third 20-plus scoring outing in six contests. “We had guys that made plays. Even if (center) Jarred (Shaw) and Preston weren’t shooting well — Spencer wasn’t either, but he made a play we needed it.”
Reed’s first break came when two Redhawk posts trapped him in their own paint. Initially, Reed seemed pinned against the Seattle baseline with nowhere to turn and in an awfully awkward position to pass. But with one westward pivot and a duck under four outstretched arms, Reed found space to race across the timeline before lobbing a pass to Shaw (six points on 3-of-12 shooting).
But Shaw would conclude his troublesome evening — USU coach Stew Morrill called him out after the game, saying that he must be more tougher mentally and physically — with a clanged dunk attempt. However, Reed swooped across the lane with a putback that amounted to an old-fashioned three-point play.
As Seattle hurried to cut into the 66-58 USU lead with less than two minutes left, Reed intercepted a lob to the wing and was off to the races again, culminating with his third dunk of an outing-- including a reverse scoop dunk that the Palmdale, Calif., native dismissed as nothing.
“When a defender like that tries to time the block, I just hold on,” Reed said. “I just wait a bit longer.”
In Thursday’s case — as happens often — that wait happened in the air.
“I came out trying to get deflections and steals,” said Reed, who notched two steals and a block aside from misdirecting the Redhawks’ half-court offense several times. “We had guys make plays at the right times.”
Morrill expressed his relief in the late-game 3-pointers from Butterfield (seven points on 1-of-3 shooting) and Medlin (18 points, five assists), which opened a 58-53 lead with 4:25 remaining. Sandwiched between that and Reed’s heroics was a technical foul from freshman forward Deshaun Sunderhaus (23 points, 10 rebounds) after a travel call that provided two Medlin free throws.
But Morrill particularly elaborated on Reed, acknowledging that he repeated an analysis that he has given earlier this season.
“Kyisean is a totally different person this year, realizing that it’s his last go-round,” he said. “He’s so much more focused. We need that from Jarred. We need him to not be so worried so much about scoring and all that and help us. We need him to be tougher mentally and physically.”
Seattle coach Cameron Dollar faulted his own group for “miscommunication” on providing seams for Butterfield and Medlin to change the complexion of a game that, until Butterfield’s dagger, the Redhawks had led for nearly eight of 12 minutes. There were other issues, too. The Redhawks committed 18 turnovers to the Aggies’ eight.
“You just can’t do that,” Dollar said. “That’s too many opportunities you don’t give yourself when you’re playing well in every other area of the game.”
Seattle shot better than 46 percent from the field and 10-of-24 from the 3-point line, compared to USU’s 43 percent and 6-of-18, respectively. The Redhawks, with no starter taller than 6-foot-7, were visibly smaller than the 6-foot-10 Shaw, 6-foot-11 backup center Matt Lopez (five rebounds in 12 minutes) and the Aggies. But they also won the rebounding battle 34-31.
But they didn’t have the daggers from a couple of wing players — or a flyboy.
“We just barely did enough,” Morrill said. “It’s one of those games where you just have a couple of guys make some big plays, and you take it.”
The Aggies return to the Spectrum Saturday at 7 p.m. against Idaho. It will mark Morrill’s final WAC contest against former assistant coach Don Verlin, in his fifth season leading the Vandals.