<strong>LOGAN—</strong> A last second 3-pointer from junior guard Preston Medlin with 0.4 seconds left sent the game to overtime, and Utah State outlasted the Idaho Vandals Saturday for an 82-75 victory. Medlin led USU with 22 points, and all five starters for the Aggies scored in double digits.
“I’m really proud of our guys first of all,” USU head coach Stew Morrill said. “It would have been so easy for them to just fold the tent. Idaho was scoring at will, we were really struggling to score. They had a very good defensive game plan. I think they’re really solid defensively.”
In a game that featured 18 ties and 10 lead changes, Utah State and Idaho both had trouble extending a lead. The largest lead of the night came with just 3:38 left in the game when Idaho held an eight point advantage over the Aggies. Medlin’s shot capped an 8-0 run to end the second half and give the Aggies a chance at the win.
“The patience on the last play of regulation was amazing,” Morrill said. “They guarded pretty well. Jarred (Shaw) could have jacked one up, we could have jacked one up a lot of times. We waited until Preston (Medlin) did like he did at Santa Clara and he found a way to make a 3. He hadn’t been having a great shooting night, so once we got to overtime, other than free throws, we did what we needed to do to win the game.”
The play that was drawn up on the bench wasn’t what got Medlin the open look.
“We ran the play and didn’t have the look so we just kind of went with what we had,” Medlin said. “I just happened to set a nice little screen on that handoff and got open and hit the shot. I feel like I want the shot and want to see how far I can take it. It was a big shot for us. They were on me hard the whole time and were playing great defense on us. I made it when it counted and that’s when our team really needed it.”
Medlin’s heroics didn’t stop there, as he scored nine of USU’s 13 overtime points.
“In overtime I knew that I wanted the ball in my hands and that I wanted to shoot it,” Medlin said. “I was trying to be aggressive and my shots were finally going in. It felt good and was good for the team. The guys were out there rebounding and playing hard. Spencer (Butterfield) and Ben (Clifford) had some great offensive rebounds for us. That was big time for us and we fought hard to win this game.”
The Aggies battled foul trouble all night, and things got dicey for Utah State when junior center Jarred Shaw fouled out with 3:28 left in overtime and the score tied at 71. Sophomore Jordan Stone came off the bench and helped the Aggies gain a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“I didn’t really know what to expect coming in to tonight’s game,” Stone said. “I didn’t even know if I was going to play or not. Going in I just wanted to do whatever I had the chance to do. It was a struggle and we had to battle our way back. I have to give the credit to them. They were taking away a lot of our shots and getting in the way of our plays.”
Both teams were undefeated in WAC play coming into Saturday’s game.
“Idaho has got a good basketball team,” Morrill said. “They’ve played eight of 11 games on the road and we’ve played four in eight days. It would have mentally been really easy to just kind of quit because you’re worn out. We didn’t do that. We made enough plays. We really need to get better in some areas, but right now we need to enjoy the win. We’ll go back to the drawing board in a couple of days and try and get better in some of those areas.”
The Aggies (13-1, 4-0) will now have a bit of a break before trying to improve upon their current 12-game win streak when they host San Jose State Friday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. Utah State has now won 58 of its last 64 home games (91 percent), and is off to it’s best start since the 2008-09 season and the third best start in school history.