SAN JOSÉ, Calif. – Utah State men’s basketball earned head coach Stew Morrill’s 600th career win with a 75-58 spearing of the Spartans of San Jose State Saturday evening at SJSU’s Event Center.
Morrill becomes the 14th active Division I head coach and the 41st overall head coach with 600 career wins, improving to 600-279 in his 28th season as a head coach, including 382-142 in his 16th season at Utah State.
The win snapped a four-game losing skein for the Aggies, in improving to 16-13 overall and 6-11 in Mountain West action. SJSU suffered its second-straight loss in falling to 7-21 overall and 1-15 in MW play. Saturday was USU’s 14th-straight win over SJSU and sixth in a row at San José, as Utah State and San José State are familiar foes, having been in not only the Western Athletic Conference together, but the Big West together for a stint as well. USU and SJSU met for the 74th time this week with the Aggies now owning a 53-21 all-time advantage, which includes a 17-13 ledger at San José. Utah State has won 35 of the last 39 games played in the series.
Senior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield netted a career-high six three-pointers on the way to a game-best 22 points. Fellow senior, center Jarred Shaw logged his seventh double-double of season and 16th of career with 19 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, helping USU to a dominating, 46-31, rebounding advantage.
Another Aggie senior, guard Preston Medlin, netting 12 points, as USU improved to 7-2 this season when Butterfield, Shaw and Medlin all post double-digits.
With two three-pointers Saturday, Medlin now has 209 for his career, tying Jay Goodman (1991-93) with 209 career treys for No. 4 on USU’s career three-pointers list. Butterfield’s career-high three-pointers give him 113 for his career, taking over the No. 11 spot on USU’s career three-pointers list, passing Troy Rolle (1999-2000) with 112. Butterfield now needs four more treys to tie Pooh Williams (2008-11) for No. 10.
Senior guard TeNale Roland added nine points, seven rebounds and a game-high tying four assists. All five of USU’s seniors saw action, with reserve forward Sean Harris getting into the game in the waning minute, getting a roaring ovation from the large personal fan club of family and friends from his nearby hometown of Rocklin, Calif. Butterfield is also from close-by, as he also had a large contingency of fans from his close hometown of Loomis, Calif.
Freshman guard JoJo McGlaston is the third Aggie from California, and hailing from Dublin, Calif., is the closest to San Jose, and he also had a large and loud group cheering for him and the Aggies.
USU had a season-high eight steals, led by three from Roland, while Medlin and Butterfield swiped two each.
SJSU had four players in double-figures, led by D.J. Brown’s 15 points off the bench, while starters Jaleel Williams, Chris Cunningham and Jalen James combined for 31 points, with Williams netting 11 and Cunningham and James tallied 10 points apiece. Cunningham pulled down a team-high nine rebounds and had a game-high two blocked shots.
The Aggies jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game, on four different three-point scoring plays, as Medlin netted a pair of three-pointers, first from the left wing, then from the right wing, then Butterfield drained a trey from the right wing before Roland scored on an old-fashioned three-point play, getting fouled after a bucket and making the ensuing free throw. The USU defense stymied SJSU to miss its first five field goals and remaining scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of the contest, before Brown broke the drought with a three-pointer at 15:17 for SJSU’s first points of the game. Moments later Brown hit another trey to pull SJSU within, 12-6, before the Aggies pulled away for a 30-17 lead at 6:53 after a pair of Medlin free throws. Shaw later hit a jumper with 1:13 left for a 39-28 USU halftime lead, as the Aggies improved to 14-3 this season when leading at intermission.
The Spartans sliced the deficit to six points at 47-41 at the palindromic 13:31 mark after another Brown three-pointer. That would be the closest USU would led SJSU get, as Shaw hit a layup on the visitors’ ensuing possession to start a 10-2 Aggie spurt that put them up 57-43 with 9:21 to go following a Medlin layup. After SJSU got within 57-49 after a pair of Jalen James free throws, USU led by double-digits from there on out, pulling away with Shaw putting the cap on the scoring for the largest Aggie advantage of the night at 17 at 75-58 with 33 seconds left to seal the victory for Morrill’s milestone win.
The Aggies now return home to host Wyoming on Wednesday, March 5 at 8 p.m. in USU’s regular-season and home finale. The Aggies will be honoring their five seniors: Spencer Butterfield, Sean Harris, Preston Medlin, TeNale Roland and Jarred Shaw.