Utah State basketball: Aggies race past Roadrunners on senior night, 71-51

By Tavin Stucki

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, March 10 2013 3:33 p.m. MDT

LOGAN — It wasn't pretty in the first half, but Utah State dominated down the stretch en route to a 71-51 victory over UTSA on senior night Saturday.

Both teams started out slow, scoring a combined 22 points in the first 10 minutes. Utah State shot 36 percent from the field in the first half.

Aggie guards Marvin Jean, Marcel Davis and TeNale Roland shot a combined 0 of 9 in the first half.

"They showed us a couple different defenses at the start of the game," Roland said. "I think that slowed us down a little bit and the second half we was able to pick it up and figure out what they was doing."

Sophomore forward Ben Clifford and junior guard Spencer Butterfield made 23 of Utah State's 25 points in the first half. Shaw scored the other two on a jumper in the key with fewer than five minutes before the half.

"I thought defensively we had a lot of energy," Clifford said. "Offensively we weren't making the greatest plays. We took good shots, not great shots, and they weren't really falling. Sometimes energy lacked, but I'd say for the most part it was pretty good this game."

Clifford played well on both ends of the court, grabbing five rebounds and two blocks in the first half. He went on to score a career-high 21 points.

"I got open in the zone a bunch and my teammates found me open," Clifford said. "I just felt good. My shot felt good."

The Aggies carried a 25-17 lead into halftime.

"It was definitely a tale of two different halves, for sure," said UTSA head coach Brooks Thompson. "You have to credit Utah State in that second half. Boy they started playing and making some tough plays. That was the key."

The Aggies had 22 assists to 10 turnovers, which Morrill said was a nice change from patterns set this season.

"That kind of used to be our calling card as far as execution, to have a lot more assists than turnovers," Morrill said.

UTSA had 10 points in the paint to Utah State's six in the first half. After going 1 of 5 in the first half, Aggie center Jarred Shaw was one rebound away from a double-double with 11 points.

Roland had 14 points — all in the second half — and six rebounds for USU, including back-to-back three pointers with 13:19 left to give Utah State an 11-point lead.

"Coach just told me to be more aggressive," said Roland, who averages 5.5 points per game. "I seemed to get my shots a little bit more and I was able to knock them down."

Butterfield finished with 14 points. Utah State's injury-limited bench scored 22 points in the win, compared to UTSA's six. Center Matt Lopez tied a season-high 8 points, all in the second half.

"This is a great week for us, it gives us a lot of momentum going into the conference tournament, which we needed," Roland said. "We've just got to pick it up next week and be ready."

The Aggies moved to 21-9 with the win, 11-7 in the Western Athletic Conference. USU will next face UT Arlington in the WAC Tournament at 9:30 p.m. Thursday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

"There was a lot of conversation about this game not meaning a lot because of who we're playing in the conference tournament," said Utah State head coach Stew Morrill. "But it meant our 21st win, it meant 11-7 in league instead of 10-8 ... it meant fourth instead of fifth — at least a tie for fourth. And it meant a win on senior night."

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