Medlin shines in win over Spartans
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 15:01
Playing before a packed house for the first time all season, the Utah State men’s basketball team rode a game-high 25 points from junior Preston Medlin to a 66-60 win over San Jose State.
“Well we won, that’s the good news,” said head coach Stew Morrill. “I thought San Jose responded really well for not having a couple of their better players, especially Kinney who is a 20-points-per-game guy. Their guys rallied together and played really hard and gave them a chance.”
Playing without their leading scorer in James Kinney, who was suspended for violation of team rules, the Spartans scrapped and clawed their way to an early 13-8 lead behind a strong first-half performance from Xavier Jones.
The junior scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half to lead the Spartans while Chris Cunningham added eight points.
But in a back-and-forth affair, the Aggie offense controlled the tempo despite nine first half turnovers. Medlin, who’s gone over 20 points in five of the past seven games, had nine points in the first half, spurring the crowd to chants of “fear the beard” with every point he scored.
“I feel good, I’ve been shooting the ball pretty well and my teammates are getting me open,” Medlin said. “I saw the beard-out on Facebook and it’s good. It’s fun out there and it’s good to have the Spectrum back. There were a lot of fans out there tonight.”
Jarred Shaw pulled down six rebounds for the Aggies in the first half en route to his sixth double-double of the season, finishing with 10 rebounds to go with 12 points. Spencer Butterfield and Kyisean Reed each added five rebounds in the first half as USU controlled the boards.
But the tide turned in the second half as the Spartans fought back.
Led by Cunningham with five, San Jose State pulled down 14 offensive rebounds and scored 20 second-chance points to keep the game close.
“They hurt us on the boards in the second half,” Morrill said. “They just stayed in the game the whole way. They kept driving by us and when they drive by you, your posts have to help and you can’t block off. We weren’t able to contain the ball and that led to all the offensive rebounds.”
But it wasn’t enough to stop Medlin and the Aggies from winning their 13th straight game — tied with for the longest active winning streak in the country.
“They were pawing, scratching, grabbing, just being physical,” Shaw said. “I’m glad we won. They’re a scrappy team. Somehow, someway, we won.”
Utah State improved to 14-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play while San Jose State fell to 9-7 overall and 3-2 in the WAC.
The Aggies hit the road for a tough two-game trip against New Mexico State and Denver Jan. 17 and 19. The Battle of the Aggies in Las Cruces is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.