LOGAN, Utah – Senior guard TeNale Roland’s career-high 20 points, which all came in the second half, sparked Utah State men’s basketball to an 86-67 victory over San José State Saturday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for USU’s first-ever Mountain West Conference win.
USU improved to 11-3 overall and 1-1 in MW action, while fellow MW rookie and former Western Athletic Conference foe, San José State fell to 6-8 overall and 0-2 in MW play.
Saturday was USU’s 24th-consecutive conference home opening victory, as the Aggies haven’t lost a league home opener since 1988-89 in the Big West Conference. Utah State-San José State is the sixth-oldest rivalry in USU history, as Saturday was the 73rd meeting between the two teams and the Aggies own a 52-21 all-time advantage in the series, winning the last 13 in a row overall and 23 straight at home, as part of winning 34 of the last 38 match-ups in the series. USU head coach Stew Morrill improved to 23-1 all-time against the Spartans, which includes a 19-1 record as the Aggies’ head coach.
Roland came off the bench to net his career-high 20 points, which all came after halftime, boosting USU to score 56 points in the second half, the Aggies’ most in a half this season and most since also scoring 56 against Montana Western on Feb. 16, 2011. The senior guard hit a career-best five three-pointers as part of USU’s 7-of-7 shooting behind the arc in the second half, on the way to 10-of-14 (71.4 percent) from distance for the night, as the Aggies tied a season-high for three-point percentage.
Four other Aggie players posted double-figure points, giving USU five double-figure scorers for the first time this season and the first time since against Idaho on Jan. 5, 2013. Senior guard Preston Medlin netted 15 points and dished out a career-high tying eight assists, while senior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield tallied 14 points.
Sophomore forward Kyle Davis logged his third-straight double-double and fifth of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while freshman forward Jalen Moore posted double-digits for the second-straight game and third in the last four contests with 10 points Saturday.
Besides the 12 rebounds from Davis, USU also got nine boards from senior center Jarred Shaw, who was making his return to action after missing the previous five games after being suspended for a violation of team rules. Shaw and Davis had two blocks apiece, part of the Aggies’ seven rejections on the night. Butterfield and Moore added five boards as USU had a dominating, 42-22, rebounding advantage, the Aggies’ third game with a 20+ or more rebounding advantage.
San José State was led by 20 points from Rashad Muhammad, netting 6-of-9 three-pointers, missing his last three treys after draining six in a row. Jaleel Williams and Devante Wilson tallied three triples each, as Williams scored 13 points and Wilson netted 11. Williams led SJSU with five rebounds, while Jalen James and D.J. Brown distributed five assists each.
The Aggies shot 52.7 percent overall (29-of-55) from the field, marking the seventh time this year they’ve shot at least 50 percent from the field. USU’s 10 three-pointers (10-of-14) were also its fourth game this season with double-digit treys and second in a row. Utah State was 18-of-24 (75.0 percent) at the free throw line.
The Spartans were 24-of-57 (42.1 percent) field goal shooting, as well as 15-of-35 (42.9 percent) from three-point range. San José State’s 15 made three-pointers and 35 three-point attempts are both season-highs for a USU opponent. Overall, SJSU’s 15 made treys are the most against USU since Nov. 26, 2005 when Lewis & Clark College was 17-of-41 from three-point range. The 35 three-pointers are the most by a USU opponent since Oakland shot 35 treys on March 25, 2012. The Spartans were also 4-of-6 (66.7 percent) at the charity stripe Saturday night, season-lows for makes and attempts at the free pitch stripe by an Aggie opponent this season.
USU scored the game’s first six points, getting layups from Butterfield, sophomore guard Marcel Davis and Medlin. The visitors then went on a 9-2 run, with Muhammad netting three treys, the last coming from way behind the top of the arc at the 13:08 mark. Later with the game tied at 21-21, SJSU scored six of the next eight points for a 27-23 lead, its largest of the game, after a triple by Williams, but USU countered with its own 6-2 spurt to take a 30-29 lead at halftime.
The lead went back-and-forth in the early going of the second stanza, before USU took the lead for good at 43-42 after a bucket by Kyle Davis with 15:20 on the second-half clock. After a layup by junior center Jordan Stone put USU ahead, 47-44, Roland then netted the Aggies’ next 12 points, hitting three triples in the spurt to counter treys by Muhammad and Wilson on the other end, as USU opened up a 59-50 lead at the 10:35 mark. Moore ended the Roland scoring streak with a layup of his own for the Aggies’ first double-digit lead of the night at 61-50 with 10:06 to play and SJSU called a timeout to try and slow the home team.
It was to little avail, despite a three-pointer from Chris Cunningham to pull the Spartans within 67-58 with 7:28 on the clock, but that would be the last time the visitors trailed by single digits and the last time they would score for awhile. The Aggies scored six-straight points for a 73-58 lead, capping a 19-8 run over nearly seven minutes from when the score was 54-50 with 11:24 left. After SJSU got within 77-65 on a long Wilson trey, USU closed out the game with a 9-2 run, capped by Roland’s fifth trey of the night with 15 seconds left to cap the scoring and give the Aggies their largest lead of the night at the final 19-point margin.
The Aggies play another former WAC foe in Nevada, on Saturday, Jan. 11 in a 6 p.m. (MT) at Reno, Nev. The Aggies-Wolf Pack match-up will not be televised, but digitally streamed through on USU’s website, www.UtahStateAggies.com.
USU men’s basketball single-game, multi-game and season tickets are on sale. All other single-game tickets will go on sale to the general public on Monday, Jan. 6. 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.