LOGAN — Before heading out on the last road trip of the year, Utah State (19-8, 9-6) basketball was hoping to build momentum in the final sprint of the regular season. After Thursday night at Louisiana Tech it appears that sprint to the finish line has become a limp.
Guard Spencer Butterfield became the latest Aggie to join the ranks of the walking wounded Thursday night. Butterfield has been playing through a hip injury, but after landing on it late in a blowout loss to the Bulldogs, he could play through the pain no longer. The junior guard was taken to a local hospital, but was able to rejoin the team on the flight to Dallas Friday. There has been no official determination if or when Butterfield will be able to return to the court.
If Butterfield cannot go on Saturday night at UT Arlington, head coach Stew Morril will have some interesting decisions to make with his lineup. Morrill could start backup point guard TeNale Roland at shooting guard, but would be left with only walk-on Connor Garner off the bench for the backcourt.
Garner played in his first collegiate game after Butterfield’s injury and did not record a point on three shots in three minutes of action.
Another option would be to move power forward Ben Clifford into the small forward position and elevate Jordan Stone into the starting lineup.
A visit to Arlington to face the Mavericks (16-10, 10-5) won’t make things any easier for the Aggies. UTA beat up on the Aggies in Logan 74-68 and take pride on being a physical defensive unit. In fact, they rank in the top 20 best defenses in terms of points allowed per possession. Not exactly what the doctor ordered for a road-weary and short-handed Aggie team.
“They came in here and played well, really defended the heck out of us,” Morrill said about the last game between the two. “We had a hard time scoring against them and that’s kind of where they hang their hats.”
With yet another roster shakeup, much of the scoring load is going to fall to Jarred Shaw who, without Butterfield in the lineup, would be the only active Aggie averaging more than seven points a contest. In the first matchup between the Mavericks and Aggies, Shaw had a miserable game scoring just nine points on 13 shots and grabbing only three rebounds. Since then, Shaw has scored in double-figures in all nine games.
Besides looking for a little revenge after a rough night in Logan last month, the junior center will also be looking to play well in front of some friends and family. Shaw attended Carter High in Dallas, Texas, about 20 miles away from the UT Arlington campus.
Aggies on the Air
Utah State (19-8, 9-6 WAC) at Texas-Arlington (16-10, 10-5 WAC)
Saturday, March 2, 2013 • 6 p.m. (MST) • College Park Center, Arlington, Texas
RADIO: Aggie Sports Network
Kraig is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.