It was senior night last night as the Aggie basketball squad took on Wyoming at home in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Before the game, this year’s seniors were honored for all the hard work they had put in both on and off the basketball court. Jarred Shaw, Spencer Butterfield, Preston Medlin, TeNale Roland, and Sean Harris stepped out onto their home court in front of the fans that have supported them throughout their careers at Utah State for the final time. And they did not leave disappointed, beating Wyoming in a well-played game 65-54.
Many Aggie players stepped up and played well to come away with a win. “Obviously there is a lot of emotion going on with it being the last home game of the season,” remarked Butterfield after the game. Luckily, the Aggies were able to harness that emotion and use it to walk away with a victory.
The starters were all senior players, including crowd favorite Sean Harris who has seen a limited role and action on the team due to injuries. In the first six minutes all of USU’s starting seniors scored what would be their final first basket on their home court. But when Sean Harris made an open layup the arena exploded. The crowd at the Spectrum and the Aggie bench were thrilled to see him score a basket.
“He filled the stat sheet tonight with the minutes he played, so I couldn’t be more proud” said Butterfield about Harris.
Harris made one more basket in the game and finished with a career high of 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal playing 11 minutes in the game.
The first eight and a half minutes of the game went without a single whistle. No timeouts, fouls, out of bounds or anything was called to get subs in.
With a smile on his face Sean Harris said after the game, “maybe the basketball gods were lookin’ out for me cause I haven’t played in a long time…they played me a long time. I think I was out there for nine minutes or so. I was just walkin’ up and down the court by the time I got outta there.”
After a 30-second timeout was finally called, the rest of the period went on to be hard fought. The Aggies led 24-20 with just under four minutes left. Wyoming then went on a run of their own, outscoring the Aggies 9-2 in the final three-and-a-half minutes. This run was led by some big shots by Nathan Sobey and Derek Cooke.
Cooke was relentlessly heckled by the home crowd for missing two dunks in the first period and air balling a layup in the second. The Aggies went into the locker room at half time trailing 26-29.
Wyoming’s good shooting transitioned over to the beginning of the second period and they made their first three shots and increased their lead to seven. The Aggies had a tough time scoring until they went inside. In the paint they found plenty of points.
In the second half USU out-rebounded Wyoming 29-10. Kyle Davis paved the way for the Aggies in that category pulling down 13 of his 14 rebounds in the second half, six of them being offensive boards.
“That’s something we always emphasize, power of the boards. That got us a lot more possessions and in a close game that really helps,” said head coach Stew Morrill after the game.
The Aggies pounded the ball down low on offense and played a strong 3-2 zone on defense in the second half, holding Wyoming to shoot just 20% from beyond the arc. Wyoming shot 24 three pointers, and made only five of them thanks to the Aggies’ stifling defense beyond the arc.
With 12 minutes left in the half, Roland shot a three that bounced around the rim until the ball finally decided to drop in the basket. This put the Aggies up 42-41 and they didn’t trail again. Davis and Shaw each had a double-double and dominated the post in the second half, until Shaw was called for an offensive foul. A call that he did not respond kindly to and was called for a technical foul with eight and a half minutes left. He sat for the rest of the game.
Wyoming’s Josh Adams tried to power his team back late in the half scoring seven of his team’s nine final points in the last six minutes. Adams finished with 21 points total. But, thanks to clutch free throws made by the Aggies, they kept a comfortable lead until the final buzzer.
The Aggies come away with a good win and continue to build on their confidence heading into the Mountain West Tournament next week. They played great as a team with four players scoring in double digits, multiple players rebounded well and the Aggies shared the ball well.
“We’re really together, we love each other, and we love playing with each other,” said Butterfield.
Hopefully this togetherness can translate into some wins come tournament time.