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Aggies outlast Bengals

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Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 23:11

The USU men’s basketball team held off Idaho State in a low-scoring defensive battle 56-48 for the Aggies’ season opener at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum Saturday night.

The Aggies struggled offensively against a Bengals defense that totaled 10 steals and 23 rebounds. USU had 17 turnovers on the night.

“That’s obviously something that coach told us, that we can’t have that many turnovers,” said junior guard Preston Medlin. “You’re not going to win a lot of games doing that, so we’re going to work on that.”

USU led throughout the first half, but Idaho State was relentless and tied the game at 37 with 9:47 to go in the game. Junior guard Spencer Butterfield’s critical 3-pointer with 9:19 to go broke the tie and the Aggies never looked back.

“Spencer Butterfield made some big shots,” said USU head coach Stew Morrill. “He hasn’t played very much, but he’s a tough-minded kid.”

Butterfield said he was confident when Morrill put him in.

“I knew that I could make some shots for the team and my teammates were able to find me open,” Butterfield said.

Medlin led the Aggies in scoring with 14 points, followed by Butterfield with nine and junior Jared Shaw with eight. Medlin scored double-digit figures for the 32nd time in his career. Idaho State was led in by senior guard Melvin Morgan with 19 points.

Morrill said Idaho State did exactly what you need to do on the road against a team you have concerns with.

“They made the game ugly,” Morrill said. “It was just an ugly basketball game. We helped make it ugly. Their zone was very, very good. We’ve got a lot of new guys who were kind of shell-shocked. They played the 1-1-3 that we prepared for, but they’re better than our scout team. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes. Hopefully we can learn from it.”

The game marked the 49th meeting between USU and Idaho State, with USU now leading the all-time record 36-13. The Aggies are now 79-29 all-time in season openers and are 18-1 in openers since the 1993-94 campaign.

Idaho State head coach Bill Evans said he was proud of the way his team played.

“My guys played really hard,” Evans said. “That’s where things have to start. If you don’t play, you don’t have a chance. I wish we could have scored 10 more points.”

Evans said his team didn’t do as good a job of getting to Butterfield as they needed to.

“That kid made the threes,” he said. “Spencer Butterfield hadn’t made a three all year and got them against us, and that was the difference. He’s a good player and we knew that.”

The Aggies will next play Saint Mary’s on Thursday, Nov. 15.

“They’re a great team,” Medlin said of Saint Mary’s. “They’re physical. We’ve played them in the past and they beat us in the Spectrum, so they’ll be a good team that’s ready to come in here and beat us.”

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