LOGAN — As Utah State head coach Stew Morrill works to integrate the array of new faces into this year's Aggie team, it was the veterans who willed the Aggies to 69-62 win over BYU in the Spectrum.
Brockeith Pane led the charge for the Aggies in the second half. Saddled with quick foul trouble, Pane saw just 10 minutes of action in the first and had as many points (4) as turnovers. In the second half Pane exploded for 17 points, chipping in 8 points during the Aggies 17-2 run midway through the half that pushed Utah State into the driver's seat for good.
"It was Spectrum magic, baby," Brady Jardine said about the run. "We always get better in the second half. We always seem to find that extra boost. I'm not sure if it's the fans or digging down deep, but we had a stretch in that second half where we played good defense and hit our open shots."
While Pane's offense was a key for the Aggies' second-half surge, his defense was just as important. The Aggies pressured and trapped BYU point guard Brock Zylstra the length of the floor. The extra pressure forced BYU into 20 team turnovers and got the rowdy Spectrum crowd into the game.
"It was very frustrating," Pane said about his first half. "I want to be out there with my team. They kept fighting and playing. In the second half I only had two fouls so I could be aggressive as I wanted to. I tried to pressure the ball as much as I could because they didn't have a true point guard."
Pane was the focal point of the second-half surge, but fellow veterans Jardine, Morgan Grim and Preston Medlin each chipped in to help keep the Aggies in the game in the first half, and put the game out of reach in the second half. Jardine finished with 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Medlin redshirted last season, but hit key shots as a freshman in 2009 when BYU last visited Logan. History repeated itself for the sophomore from Carrollton, Texas as Medlin once again hit big shots against the Cougars, adding 15 points, 11 coming in the second half. Grim finished with eight points and two blocks while playing tough defense against BYU's Brandon Davies.
Morrill will continue to lean on his veterans as the newcomers become acclimated to Division-I basketball, but a win against an in-state rival was a good way for them to start out in Morrill's view.
"Some guys stepped up and made some plays and we got out of here with a win, and we will take it," Morrill said. "Preston Medlin did some good things, I thought that Morgan Grim was solid, Brady Jardine of course always plays really hard and he rebounds the ball. We got some new guys some experience, they got a little taste of the Spectrum and that is good for them."