LOGAN, Utah – Sophomore forward Kyle Davis logged a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds while senior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield and senior guard Preston Medlin netted 14 points apiece to boost Utah State men’s basketball to a 68-52 win over Western Illinois Thursday night. It was the Aggies’ opening game of the Basketball Travelers, Inc., Classic sponsored by Gossner Foods, at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The win improved USU’s record to 7-2 overall on the season, as well as improving to 47-1 all-time in tournaments it hosts, including winning the last 46 in a row. Western Illinois has lost its last two games after a three-game win streak, falling to 4-6 overall. The Aggies continue BTI Classic action on Friday, taking on UC Santa Barbara at 8 p.m. UCSB improved to 6-3 on the year after getting a three-pointer from Kyle Boswell with eight seconds left for a 57-54 win over Troy in Thursday’s opening game. Western Illinois and Troy square off Friday at 5:30 p.m. Troy is 4-5 after Thursday’s loss.
Thursday night was also the first meeting on the hardwood between USU and WIU. Utah State is now 7-9 all-time against teams from the state of Illinois, including beating a team from Illinois in the Gossner Foods sponsored tournament for the second year in row, knocking off Southern Illinois, 70-58, last season.
Davis logged his second double-double of the season, and his second double-figure rebounding game of the season and his fifth double-figure scoring outing, including his fourth straight. He also added two steals, one block and one assist on the night. Davis’s inside presence made up for the absence of senior center Jarred Shaw is was suspended earlier this week. Davis shot was 4-of-8 from the field to go along with 7-of-13 at the free throw line, single-handily matching WIU’s made free throws and having more attempts than the Leathernecks, who were 7-of-9.
Butterfield was 4-of-8 from the field, including netting both three-pointers, adding 4-of-5 at the free throw line. He also had six rebounds, four assists and a career-high two blocks, as USU had a season-high nine rejections on the night, including its third game in a row with at least five blocks. Besides Butterfield, junior center Jordan Stone and junior forward Ben Clifford added two blocks apiece. Stone made his first start of the season in place of Shaw and his fourth of his career.
Medlin made 5-of-6 of his field goals, including 2-of-3 behind the arc and made both of his free throws. Both his free throws came in the first 1:19 of the game, helping USU lead from start to finish.
Sophomore guard Marcel Davis dished out five assists to go with four points, as 10 different Aggies scored, including senior Sean Harris netting his first point as an Aggie with a free throw late in the game.
Western Illinois was led by Jordan Foster 10 points, while Garret Covington tossed in nine points and Adam Link and Michael Ochereobia added eight points each. Ochereobia led the Leathernecks with four rebounds. Covington tied Marcel Davis for game-high assists honors.
Utah State dominated the glass to the tune of a 34-18 rebounding advantage, as the 18 rebounds by WIU are a season-low for a USU opponent and the fewest since last season when Idaho had 16 on Jan. 13, 2013.
The Aggies were limited by a stingy Leatherneck defense to just 36 field goal attempts and USU tied a season-low with the 68 points. WIU entered the game ranked second in the nation in scoring defense at 54.1 points per game, as well as holding the opposition to just 38.3 percent, as the Aggies surpassed that with 68 points and 52.8 percent (19-of-36) field goal shooting, their fourth game this season making over half of their field goals.
USU also made a season-high 57.1 percent (5-of-7) behind the arc, in addition to 25-of-34 (73.5 percent) from the free throw line.
The Aggie defense limited the Leathernecks to 21-of-53 (39.6 percent) field goal shooting, including 3-of-15 (20.0 percent) from beyond the arc and 7-of-9 (77.8 percent) at the charity stripe.
USU opened a 15-5 lead on a Butterfield jumper with 14:38 on the first half clock, but WIU whittled the deficit down to 26-24 with 3:38 to go after a jumper by Muhamed Conde. The Aggies regained control and closed out the half with a 9-0 run, starting on a three-point play by Kyle Davis with 3:22 left in the first frame and the Aggies took a 35-24 lead into halftime after a Kyle Davis dunk in the waning seconds. USU is now 6-1 this season when leading at the half and has won 90 of its last 93 games when leading at intermission.
The Aggies started the second half with a 7-2 run, opening a 42-26 lead with 17:51 on the clock and the Leathernecks didn’t get within 13 points the rest of the night. Utah State had its largest lead of the game at 19 points on three occasions. The first came at 60-41 with 5:24 to go on a pair of Medlin free pitches, and the last with 1:05 left after an acrobatic up-and-under layup by freshman guard JoJo McGlaston, as the Aggies coasted to the victory.
On Friday, Dec. 20, Western Illinois and Troy will tangle at 5:30 p.m. before USU faces off with UC Santa Barbara at 8 p.m. The Classic concludes on Saturday, Dec. 21 with the Leathernecks and Gauchos squaring off at 5:30 p.m. before the Aggies tangle with the Trojans at 8 p.m.
None of the BTI Classic games will be televised, but the USU games will be aired on the radio and audio streamed online on the Aggie Sports Network, as well as video streamed online through on USU’s website, www.UtahStateAggies.com. Live stats will also be available through “Live Stats” link, and updates will also be available on Twitter – @Aggiehoops.
USU men’s basketball single-game, multi-game and season tickets are on sale. All single-game tickets will go on sale two weeks prior to each game. Single-game tickets will cost $18 for non-priority and $20 for priority, as well as $25 for premium game against UNLV (Feb. 15).
To order a package or for more Aggie men’s basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the “Buy Tickets” tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
Fans can follow the Aggie men’s basketball program at twitter.com/AggieHoops. USU fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics, on facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on instagram at instagram.com/USUAthletics.