Stonewalling the foul-filled rivalry
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:02
Utah State’s 70-68 loss to the BYU men’s basketball team may have ended in a last-second shot, but that’s not the reason the Aggies couldn’t pull a win out of the Marriott Center on Tuesday.
In a game filled with an astronomically-high 51 fouls, the Aggies shot 63 percent from the charity stripe and left 10 points off the scoreboard.
“We missed free throws and that’s why we got beat,” said head coach Stew Morrill after the game. “If we had made a few more free throws, it sure would have helped.”
All eight USU players who saw court time picked up at least one foul. Five had four fouls or more — junior center Jarred Shaw was the only player on either team to foul out.
“We’ve got eight guys, nine guys, so we’ve got to work harder to make up for the people we’re missing,” said sophomore center Jordan Stone.
Junior shooting guard Spencer Butterfield hit two free-throws to tie the game after getting fouled on a fast-break layup miss.
“It was definitely a challenge,” Butterfield said about playing defense with all the foul trouble. “We had to play smart, back off a little bit, not be as aggressive.”
The almost-passive defense almost worked.
Referees called four fouls in the final 6:36 of the game, compared to 14 in the first 6:36 of the second half.
USU head coach Stew Morrill said the officials were not the problem in the game.
Butterfield was called for his fourth foul with 8:29 left to play.
“I know for me personally, I was trying not to pick up that fourth and fifth foul,” Butterfield said. “I stepped off a little bit and I wish I didn’t have to.”
Stone was one of three Aggies who was only called for a foul once in the game and said he didn’t know why he wasn’t whistled more.
“I felt like it was a pretty physical game both ways,” he said. “It wasn’t like I wasn’t around in there all the time, but I don’t know. I just didn’t get fouls and the other guys did.”
Stone also shot 5-9 from the free throw line.
“With so many guys in foul trouble, I thought we might have to play our walk on,” Morrill said of Conner Garner, who started dressing for games when Aggie guard Preston Medlin and senior Kyisean Reed were injured earlier this season. “I’m trying to save his redshirt year.”
Freshman point guard Marcel Davis picked up his fourth foul with 9:39 to play. Backup point guard TeNale Roland was playing with four fouls five minutes into the second half.
Morrill said he didn’t know if he was going to have a point guard by the end of the game and switched to a zone defense to avoid picking up any more fouls.
“We were forced to play a lot of zone,” Morrill said. “We couldn’t just foul everybody out. In man-to-man you’re more apt to foul, so we were playing zone whenever we could.
One saving grace was Stone’s four blocked shots, all of which came in the second half and helped give life to an Aggie team struggling to claw its way back into the game.
“If someone gets in foul trouble, someone else has to step up, got to do their part,” he said.