Aggies hold off Nevada to break losing streak

Feb 6 2014 - 8:40am

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Utah State forward Kyle Davis takes a shot against Nevada during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday in Logan. (AP Photo/The Herald Journal, Eli Lucero
Utah State forward Kyle Davis takes a shot against Nevada during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday in Logan. (AP Photo/The Herald Journal, Eli Lucero

LOGAN -- After going nearly the entire first half without a 3-pointer, the Aggies needed just 37 seconds to bury two treys early in the second half and carried that offensive spark to an 83-75 win over Nevada on Wednesday night at the Spectrum.

Weighed down by a five-game losing streak coming into the game, Utah State (3-7 in the Mountain West, 13-9 overall) battled its way to a 28-27 lead at halftime then suddenly stretched that advantage to seven points on the strength of 3-pointers from guards Preston Medlin and Tenale Roland.

"That was definitely helpful," noted senior Spencer Butterfield, who knocked down 8-of-9 shots on his way to a team-high 20 points.

"We talked about coming out in the second half aggressive, not giving in and having a good second half because we played hard the first half. We just needed to continue that, so those were huge."

After putting up just 28 points in the first half, the Aggies found the going much better offensively in the second half, shooting 61.5 percent from the field and putting up 55 points -- just two fewer points than they scored in the entire game in their loss at Wyoming.

"Under the circumstances, I have to be really proud of our team for rallying this week," said USU head coach Stew Morrill. "It's hard when you're 2-7 in league play and just got your tail kicked a number of times. But we had really good practices, and we talked abot having some energy and not just cashing it in."

Butterfield added 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, while senior center Jarred Shaw finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Medlin, who didn't score in the first half, ended up with three 3-pointers and 14 points, while forward Kyle Davis totaled 12 points thanks to a 10-for-12 performance at the free-throw line.

Thanks to a late offensive explosion, Nevada point guard Deonte Burton ended up pacing the Wolf Pack (7-3, 12-11) with 23 points, while forward Cole Huff put up 21 points. Nevada shot 42.4 percent for the game, but were outrebounded 40 to 30 and went to the free-throw line 12 fewer times than the Aggies.

"I give them credit; they guarded very well," Nevada head coach David Carter said. "They went inside and had a really good rhythm and shot 61 percent in the second half. I thought our defense was really poor tonight in the second half."

Despite shooting a woeful 37 percent from the field and going just 1-for-7 from 3-point range, the Aggies somehow managed to carry a one-point lead into halftime.

Down by as many as eight points with six minutes to go, Utah State finally managed to put a few defensive stops together with some baskets to bring the crowd of 9,950 to life. Two free throws by Davis and a 3-pointer by Butterfield capped a 13-4 run that gave USU its first lead at 26-25 with just under a minute left before intermission.

Nevada, which shot just 40.7 percent in the first half, immediately regained the lead when Ali Fall banked in a hook shot, but two more free throws from Davis left the home team up 28-27 at halftime.

The two quick threes by the Aggies after the break then seemed to spark new offensive confidence in the home team, and Utah State never trailed in the second half and led by as many as 12 points down the stretch to avoid its first six-game losing streak since the 1992-93 season.

"This is a monkey off the back right there," Butterfield declared. "We definitely needed this win as a team."

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