Utah State report card: Aggies' guards, fans receive poor grades
John Zsiray, Associated Press
Utah State, riding a three-game win streak, came into Saturday afternoon’s game against the UNLV Running Rebels with hopes to climb its way back into the Mountain West Conference race.
The game started out much like the first time the Aggies and the Rebels played earlier in January with the Rebels playing solid defense and the Aggies sporadically looking to make a basket. UNLV forward Khem Birch made that really difficult for the Aggies all night. He tallied up nine blocks in the game.
The Aggies looked to have some control going into the second half, but the Rebels came out on fire making their first six shots, whereas the Aggies struggled most of the second half shooting below 40 percent. A late second-half surge from the Aggies kept it interesting but the Rebel defense proved to be too much for the Aggies, and the Rebels survived the Spectrum 73-62.
USU Guards: D+
There is something about this USU frontcourt that fans just can’t trust. The starting two guards Preston Medlin and Tenale Rowland scored 18 points between the both of them. Rowland scored 12 of those points and nearly tripling his season average of 4.8 points per game, and one of the reasons why I didn’t give this group a lower grade. Unlike Rowland, I hold Medlin to another standard but maybe I should start lowering those expectations. Or maybe he just doesn’t do well against the Rebels shooting 3 for 20 and totaling up nine points in the two games. The Aggies will need Medlin going forward if they want any hopes in making the NCAA Tournament, hopefully they don’t run into the Rebels in the conference tournament.
USU Forwards: C-
Aggie starting forwards, Spencer Butterfield and Kyle Davis, struggled from the night shooting 6 for 23 and a combine 15 points. Butterfield was able to hit two 3-pointers to give a spark to the Aggies at different points throughout the game. Coming off the bench freshman Jalen Moore provided solid defense and even nailed a key 3-pointer to tie the game midway through the second half. Ever since his knee injury sophomore Kyle Davis hasn’t had much impact for the Aggies, but his effort on the glass allows the Aggies to get a few more looks at the basket. If the Aggies want anything to do with conference tournament they better hope that the play of Davis comes back and Butterfield shot doesn’t disappear.
USU Centers: B+
The one bright spot for the Aggies Jarred Shaw led the Aggies with 20 points and 12 rebounds. This feat is really impressive considering that Shaw was going against the former Mountain West Conference defensive player of the year in Birch. If it is one thing that I’ve learned this season is that Shaw has some of the best post moves in country, and Birch found that out Saturday. Along with Shaw’s performance the backup center Jordan Stone played some key minutes in the first half scoring four points, adding a block and an assist that led to a Medlin dunk. It’s a shame that the other players weren’t competing on the level of Shaw and Stone, but maybe that had something to do with UNLV’s defense Then again Shaw managed to do this against one of the best defenders in the country.
USU Coaching: B-
It’s obvious that UNLV was the more talented team, but USU head coach Stew Morrill had a good game plan in the first half and the minutes were given out justifiably in the first half. It was clear that UNLV was struggling against the zone in the first half, but the Aggies may have stayed in the zone for a few minutes too long. In the closing minutes of the second half it was apparent that the Aggies should have left the zone after the Rebels scored on consecutive open lay ups. Also, Shaw sat on the bench far too long and when he entered the game the lead was far out of reach with little time remaining.
USU Crowd: C+
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