Utah State basketball: Aggies race past Oakland to advance to CIT championship

Published: Sunday, March 25 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

Utah State forward Morgan Grim (21) takes a shot as Oakland center Kyle Sikora tries to defend him.

Associated Press

LOGAN — If Utah State can play like this all the time, maybe head coach Stew Morrill should schedule Sunday games more often. The Aggies were ruthlessly efficient on offense in a 105-81 crushing of Oakland University to move onto the CollegeInsider.com Tournament championship game. It was the first time Utah State had hit the century mark against a Division-I team under Morrill and the most points overall since scoring 111 against Southern Oregon in 1997.

Coming into the game the Aggies were worried about trying to keep up with the break neck pace that Oakland likes to play at, but maybe that should have been the other way around. Utah State shot 63.8 percent for the game, and was even better from beyond the arc, hitting 12 of their 16 attempts from deep — the seventh-best single-game shooting performance from three-point range in school history.

Preston Medlin led all scorers with 26 points, while chipping in with nine rebounds and three assists. Brockeith Pane and Morgan Grim both added double-double's. Pane had 20 points and 10 assists with just two turnovers, while Grim finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Danny Berger also hit double figures in scoring, finding his stroke for 17 points after scoring just a single point against Loyola Marymount in the Aggies last game.

"Everything looks easier when you make shots and we made a lot of shots tonight" Morrill said. "Our guys are enjoying playing basketball and are playing very confidently. This tournament has been extremely positive for us."

It was apparent the Aggies were going to have a big game offensively pretty quickly. The Aggies had 20 points in the first seven minutes and finished the half up 60-43. The 60 first-half points is a school-record for the first half according to available records. The scoring outburst was completely out of the norm for Utah State, which completed seven games this season scoring 60 points or less.

The team was pleased with their offensive effort, but coming out of the locker room, Morrill was more concerned with keeping Oakland getting hot and back into the game.

"We really had a hard time stopping them in the first half, and did a little better in the second half," Morrill said.

Oakland's Reggie Hamilton came into the game as the nation's leading scorer at over 26 points a game, but struggled against Utah State. Hamilton finished with 23 points and nine assists to lead the Golden Grizzlies, but those 23 points came on a rough 6-for-21 shooting night. With Hamilton struggling, Oakland ran out of gas in the second half, shooting just 27.5 percent, which was nowhere near good enough to keep up with the streaking Aggies.

"They were really good," said Oakland coach Greg Kampe. "I have a lot of respect for this program and what they've done. I've watched them from afar for a long time, so to get up close and personal was pretty amazing… I understand this hasn't been (Morrill's) best year or his best team, but they were prepared tonight. I can't believe they've played any better than that this year. We ran into their A-game tonight."

With the win the season is down to its final game regardless of outcome as Utah State hosts Mercer at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night for the CIT Championship. The game will be broadcast on Fox College Sports.

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