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Utah State basketball: Aggies send seniors out with win over Wyoming

By Tavin Stucki

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, March 5 2014 10:55 p.m. MST

Utah State head coach Stew Morrill argues a call during their game, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/The Herald Journal, Eli Lucero)

Eli Lucero, AP

LOGAN — Utah State outrebounded Wyoming by 20 to give the Aggies a 65-54 win in their final regular-season game Wednesday.

"That's huge," said USU coach Stew Morrill. "We always emphasize power in the boards, but obviously that got us a lot more possessions. In a close game that really helps."

The Cowboys pulled the gap to two with about five minutes to play, but Utah State went on a 15-6 run and grabbed eight rebounds in that time to close the game.

Wyoming went 5 of 24 from 3-point range, and only two of those makes came in the second half.

"Second half we played a lot better," Morrill said. "I thought mixing our defenses helped us."

The Aggies started off well, jumping out to a six-point lead behind a pair of early field goals by forward Sean Harris — his only four points of the game.

“It was more than what I was expecting,” said the senior, who also finished with three rebounds, an assist and a steal in his season-high 11 minutes on senior night. "In all my games ever played, this is probably the one I'll look back on and remember the most just because it's been a long time coming to get where I am right now."

Utah State struggled on either side of halftime, ending the first stanza with a four-minute scoring drought that ended on a foul shot by senior guard Preston Medlin with 6.6 seconds left.

Out of eight shots from 3-point range, only senior guard Spencer Butterfield's heave found its mark in the first half, which ended with Wyoming ahead three points, 29-26.

The Cowboys built as much as an eight-point lead early in the second half, but Utah State went on a 10-0 run to go up 38-36 with 14:30 left to play.

Wyoming ( 17-13, 8-9) has now lost four straight games since leading scorer Larry Nance Jr. went down with a knee injury.

"Larry was our leader, our unspoken captain," said Wyoming sophomore guard Josh Adams. "We're still trying to find that groove. I think we found it for most of the game, but (Utah State) is a good team."

Adams finished with a game-high 21 points.

Butterfield finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Utah State. Senior center Jarred Shaw led the Aggies in scoring with 14 points to go with his 10 rebounds. Utah State had four players with double-digit scoring.

The win lifts Utah State to 17-13 overall and 7-11 in this, their first year in the Mountain West. The Aggies will await the result of other conference games this week to determine their seed in the conference tournament, which will take place next week in Las Vegas.

"It's a great way to go out," Butterfield said. "This is huge going into the Mountain West tournament. We've got a lot of confidence as a team and are playing really well together."

Tavin Stucki is a senior journalism student at Utah State University and editor-in-chief of The Utah Statesman, the Aggie campus newspaper. Twitter: @DesNewsAggies @StuckiAggies

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