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Aggies down Colorado State in defensive battle

assistant sports editor

Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014 00:01

Preston Medlin

Kylee Larsen

Senior guard Preston Medlin looks for a teammate during USU's 57-50 win over Colorado State on Wednesday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

The Aggies shot about as bad as they could have Saturday against Nevada. USU shot 31 percent from the field. The Aggies bounced back Wednesday in the Spectrum when the Aggies took on Colorado State, winning 57-50.

It looked like the Aggies offensive struggles would continue early in the game. The first four possessions for the Aggies consisted of three turnovers and a blocked shot. With seven minutes to play in the first half, the Aggies had just nine points. In the ensuing seven minutes, USU would score 16 points.

“I was proud of our guys,” said USU head coach Stew Morrill. “After playing really poorly against Nevada, we really competed tonight. Everything wasn’t perfect obviously, but it was a good old-fashioned slugfest.”

The Aggies actually got out-rebounded in the game by a 37-31 total. USU has out-rebounded its opponents this season by an average of 11 rebounds.

“I heard they do a rebounding drill in practice for 45 minutes, so that is one of their key emphasis’,” said senior center Jarred Shaw. “It was pretty tough, but we fought through it.”

The Aggies found their stroke from behind the arc. Coming off a game where they shot just 2-of-16 on 3-point field goals, they went 11-21. 15 of their first 18 points were from the 3-point line. That’s when the bigs closed out the half. Eight of the last nine points for the Aggies came inside the paint.

“It’s always good when you are making three’s because you’ll have the defense on their heels,” Shaw said. “Once you make a couple, you can drive by and dish it out a little bit.”

CSU junior forward J.J. Avila gave the Aggies trouble in the game, scoring 21 points. The Aggies couldn’t seem to put anyone on the floor who could match up with him. Daniel Bejarano also had a stellar night for the Rams, totaling 20 points.

Despite the great outings by Avila and Bejarano, USU held Colorado State to a 36.2 field goal percentage and 26.3 percent from behind the arc.

“Tonight I felt pretty good about it,” Morrill said about his team’s defense. “They had a hard time scoring. Their percentages were down, and we did a pretty good job.”

Shaw and Spencer Butterfield led the Aggies in scoring with 17 points each. This was Shaw’s third game back in the lineup after serving a five-game suspension in December. Shaw also had 10 rebounds, giving him a double-double on the night.

“I think I’m back now,” Shaw said. “I’m not thinking about being rusty, I’m just trying to stay positive and doing my what I can to help the team.”

Butterfield had 14 of his 17 points in the second half and went 5-of-7 in 3-point field goals.

“He was very positive out there,” Morrill said. “They came back from the Nevada game and practiced like we played tonight, with a lot of enthusiasm.”

The Aggies improved to 10-1 in the Spectrum with the win against Colorado State and improved their conference record to 2-2, with both losses coming on the road. They will be on the road again Saturday against Boise State.

“That is what we have to do to have a chance in the Mountain West,” Morrill said. “We’ve got to be physical and we’ve got to do everything it takes to give yourself a chance to win. That was a lot better effort for our guys.”

Twitter: @dahdahusu

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