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USU basketball: Utah State men's basketball to hold first practice Friday

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9 2012 12:47 p.m. MDT

Utah State men's basketball team will hold its first official practice of the 2012-13 season on Friday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum as head coach Stew Morrill enters his 15th season at USU and 27th overall by welcoming 15 players to the court. Practices are closed to the public.

Utah State returns three starters among five lettermen from last year's team that finished the season with a 21-16 record, advancing to the championship game of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT). USU extended its current school records for consecutive 20-win seasons and postseason appearances to 13-straight in 2012 as it is one of just five schools nationally to win 21 games in each of the last 13 years. Utah State's current run of 13-straight postseason appearances is tied for the 11th-longest active streak in the nation.

USU enters its eighth and final year in the Western Athletic Conference, as the Aggies have amassed a 178-65 (.732) overall record, including 83-27 (.755) in WAC games, going 8-6 last season and finishing fourth.

In his 14 years as the Aggies' head coach, Morrill has led USU to an incredible 345-119 (.744) record, including a 175-55 (.761) conference ledger in Big West and WAC action. While at Utah State, he has guided the Aggies to 13 straight 21-win seasons and 13-straight postseason appearances (8-NCAA, 4-NIT, 1-CIT), both of which are school records. Morrill is the winningest coach in school history and ranks first all-time in games coached (464). Morrill is also the second-longest tenured coach in school history behind E. Lowell Romney (1920-41), who spent 22 years coaching basketball.

Headlining the USU returners is junior guard Preston Medlin, who averaged 17.0 points per game to go with 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest and was named first-team all-WAC in 2012, marking the 13th-straight year that Utah State has had at least one player earn first-team all-conference honors. Medlin was the second sophomore in school history to earn first-team all-league honors along with Nate Harris (2004).

Medlin started all 37 games for the Aggies, setting a school record for games started and games played, and finished the season shooting 49.6 percent from the field (204-of-411), 42.8 percent from three-point range (95-of-222) and 80.1 percent at the free-throw line (125-of-156). Medlin scored in double-figures 31 times, including 20-plus points 13 times and a career-high 32 points against Idaho. He finished the year ranking second in the WAC and 16th in the nation in three-point shooting, third in the WAC and 80th in the nation in points per game, and 10th in the WAC and 75th in the nation in overall shooting. Medlin also ranked fourth in the league in free-throw shooting, seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.70) and ninth in assists.

Utah State’s most experienced position heading into the 2012-13 season will be at power forward as it returns two proven players here from a year ago in senior starter Kyisean Reed and sophomore reserve Ben Clifford. Reed was named to the league’s all-newcomer team a year ago as he averaged 10.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game, while shooting 61.4 percent from the field (135-of-220) and 67.9 percent at the free-throw line (91-of-134). He finished the season ranking first in the WAC in field goal shooting, sixth in blocked shots and 14th in rebounding. He also had 40 dunks to rank first in the conference.

After redshirting his first year at Utah State, Clifford played in 36 games, starting four, in 2012 and finished the season averaging 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds, while shooting 50.9 percent from the field (58-of-114), 38.9 percent from three-point range (7-of-18) and 72.9 percent at the free-throw line (35-of-48) in 16.8 minutes per outing.

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