Report card: Home court not enough to help USU against Fresno State

By Braden Clark

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Feb. 23 2014 2:40 p.m. MST

Updated: Sunday, Feb. 23 2014 2:40 p.m. MST

Saturday night, the Utah State Aggies welcomed the Fresno State Bulldogs, rekindling an old WAC rivalry.

The Bulldogs pulled away early, and leading the way for the Bulldogs in shooting was senior guard Tyler Johnson, shooting 4-of-6 3-pointers and ending with 21 points.

The Aggies, a normally solid 3-point shooting team, were as cold as the Logan weather, shooting 6-for-21 on the night. The Bulldogs claimed a 34-18 lead in the first half. Aggie fans seemed like this one was far out of reach, and some fans headed for the doors. That is until the Aggies made a roaring comeback to end the half, finishing with a 15-to-5 run.

The Aggies finally retook the lead with 15 minutes to play in the second half after senior Aggie Tenale Rowland made a layup. However, that was the last time the Aggies led the game, because Fresno State reclaimed the lead a few minutes later and held on to it for the time remaining.

A late push by the Aggies kept fans interested, nailing key 3-pointers to keep the game in scoring reach. However, a controversial call with .4 of a second on the clock will leave Aggie fans wondering “what if” as the Aggies fell, 79-76. It’s been a theme for most games this year.

Guards

Who knew the Aggies had so many guards on their bench. Players who normally don’t see playing time played key minutes for the Aggies. Freshman Viko Noma’aea played 10 minutes and freshman JoJo McGlaston played 17 minutes. Normally they are held to five to seven minutes per game, but these two guards should play more often.

Coach Stew Morrill is trying everything he has to spark this Aggie team, and from what these two guards showed last night, they have a chance to do that. It's not coincidence that when the three freshmen — including Jalen Moore — entered the game, the Aggies started their comeback, checking in when the game was down 16-31.

Noma’aea didn’t score very many points on the night, only making a jump shot early in the first half. McGlaston surprised a lot of people in the game, and fans questioned why he hasn’t played all season. McGlaston ended the night 3-for-5 from the field and shot 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, ending the night with eight points. Maybe Morrill should consider starting these two guards over his senior guards, because Medlin and Rowland played 30 minutes each and only outscored the two freshmen by eight points.

Morrill would be commended if he started the freshmen because it could spark the two senior guards or give meaningful minutes to these freshmen and start a new path for the future. Either way, something needs to be done with this starting guard unit. Right now, it isn’t doing anything right for the Aggies. Grade: C

Forwards

Senior Spencer Butterfield looked to be really off in Saturday’s game, attempting shot after shot but nothing seemed to fall. That was until the second half, when he made crucial 3-pointers to get the Aggies back into the game, but the bright side is that Butterfield does so many other things on the court other than just shooting. He ended with six assists and four rebounds.

For sophomore Kyle Davis, it was a nice comeback game. He ended with 14 points, but he even had a better night on the boards, collecting 15 rebounds, five of them on the offensive end. Freshman Jalen Moore didn’t do much on the night; grabbing a few rebounds and totaling three fouls. But Moore is playing a position he’s not built for yet, and while guarding bigger and stronger players in the post, it was easy to see that Moore was struggling to defend them. Hopefully for next season, Moore gets in the weight room and puts on needed muscle to play down in the post. Grade: B-

Centers

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