Aggies avenge earlier loss to Pack
LOGAN, Utah — Spencer Butterfield scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Utah State broke a five-game losing streak by beating Nevada 83-75 Wednesday night.
Jarred Shaw scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds for the Aggies (13-9, 3-7 Mountain West Conference). Preston Medlin added 14, all in the second half, and Kyle Davis had 12.
The Wolf Pack (12-11, 7-3 MWC), who came in holding sole possession of third place in conference, were led by Deonte Burton with 23 points and Cole Huff with 21.
A 3-point shot by Jerry Evans brought Nevada to within two points, 52-50, with 9:10 to play, but 3-point shots by Medlin and Butterfield helped Utah State stretch its lead back to 72-60 with 2:55 remaining, and USU hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final minutes to seal the win.
USU shot 61.5 percent from the field in the second half, while Nevada was held to 44 percent. The Wolf Pack were only 5-of-20 from 3-point range. There were 50 free throws in the game, with USU hitting 25-of-31.
Nevada led almost the entire first half, leading 21-13 with 6:10 to play. In the closing minutes of the opening half, though, Davis hit four free throws and Butterfield knocked down a 3-point shot to give USU a 28-27 lead at halftime. Butterfield led all players with eight points at intermission.
“They came out and they established their rhythm,” Nevada coach David Carter said. “They hit two threes to start the second half, we were down by one and went to down by seven really quick.
“ I give them credit, they guarded very well. They went inside and had a really good rhythm and shot 61 percent in the second half. I thought our defense was really poor tonight in the second half.”
The Aggies five-game losing streak was coach Stew Morrill’s longest in 16 years at Utah State. Nevada had beaten Utah State in the last three meetings, including a 62-54 victory Jan. 11 in Reno.
This is the Aggies first season in the Mountain West, where they are tied for second-to-last with Fresno State, which beat Air Force on Wednesday.
“Under the circumstances, I have to be really proud of our team for rallying this week,” Morrill said. “It’s hard when you’re 2-7 in league play and you just got your tail kicked a number of times. We had really good practices. We talked about having some energy and not just cashing it in.
“We got the second half of league started tonight and I thought our guys were really engaged and played hard. They gave themselves the chance to win. We needed a win. A lot of guys did really good things. Obviously Jarred (Shaw) and Spencer (Butterfield) had really good games, but a lot of guys did really good things. It was a much-needed win.”