LOGAN — It was senior night at Utah State, but it was a sophomore who stole the spotlight.
Aggie guard Preston Medlin went for a career-high 32 points, including 27 in the second half, to go along with eight rebounds and five assists as Utah State thumped rival Idaho 67-50 in front of a near-sellout crowd at the Spectrum. Medlin's performance was the first 30-point game for Utah State since big man Gary Wilkinson lit up New Mexico State for 33 in 2007.
"I don't know, I couldn't miss. The team kept getting me open and passing me the ball and I was making them," Medlin said.
In a season filled with some ugly performances, Utah State put together a vintage effort after an inauspicious start. Idaho crested at a 15-point lead with 4:19 left in the first half, but from that point on it was all Aggies.
Utah State outscored the Vandals 53-21 over the final 24 minutes. Led by Medlin's perfect nine-for-nine shooting in the second half, including five-for-five from deep, the Aggies shot a blistering 75 percent in the second half to turn a potentially embarrassing loss into an emphatic sendoff for the seniors.
"Good senior night, obviously," head coach Stew Morrill said. "We got way down, and I am real proud of our guys for hanging in there mentally and playing. We had a really good crowd; it was good to see the Spectrum crowd like it usually is. That was certainly a factor. We got going and the crowd got going."
Idaho head coach Don Verlin had seen runs like that before, having spent 10 years as an assistant under Morrill at Utah State. Despite adjustments and timeouts, Verlin was powerless to stop the snowballing momentum of Utah State.
"We made a few mistakes in our defensive coverages and boom, they get ahead," Verlin said. "They get the momentum and with this crowd, that's how it goes."
The game started with a tribute to seniors Brady Jardine, Brockeith Pane and Morgan Grim. Pane finished with 12 points and seven assists while adding some stellar defense in the second half.
"Defense starts at the point same as offense does and Brockeith just started getting at his guy," Grim said. "It just gave our defense life. We see him out there going hard and we all want to work for him."Comment on this story
Grim finished with six points and tied for the game-high with eight rebounds.
"You don't really think about it until you're out there holding your jersey before the game and then it hits you. It's sad at first and then it's inspiring," Grim said on the emotions of senior night. "You want to leave the Spectrum on a high note with a win. Then the game ends and it's emotional again, but it's been great here. I love it."
Jardine suffered a career-ending foot injury in the Aggies' third game of the season. Despite having foot surgery last week, Jardine dressed for the game and received his ceremonial jersey while on crutches and received the loudest ovation of all from the home crowd.
The Aggies take to the road for their final two games of the regular season with visits to San Jose State and Hawaii. Following that it will be off to Las Vegas for the 2012 WAC Tournament, starting on March 8.