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USU defense smothers San Jose State, 63-36

SAN JOSE, Calif. (ABC 4 Sports) - Spencer Butterfield scored 22 points as the Utah State basketball team dominated the Spartans, 63-36.
SAN JOSE, Calif (ABC 4 Sports) - Behind a smothering defensive effort for the second-straight game, a 16-0 run in the first half and junior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield's fifth double-double in a row, Utah State's men's basketball speared the Spartans of San Jose State Friday night by a palindromic 63-36 score at the Event Center at SJSU.

The win was USU's third in a row, all on the road in improving to 17-5 overall and 8-4 in Western Athletic Conference action. SJSU dropped its eighth-straight in falling to 9-14 overall and 3-9 in WAC play. USU has won its last five at San Jose, winning the last 12 overall match-ups to improve to 51-21 all-time against San Jose State in Utah State's sixth-oldest rivalry in school history.

Butterfield tallied game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds, including posting 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half. The junior sharpshooter also hit three three-pointers Friday for the second-straight game and his 10th multi-three-pointer game. It was also his sixth game with three or more treys.

Junior center Jarred Shaw and freshman guard Marcel Davis tallied 12 points apiece. Junior guard TeNale Roland added seven points off the bench, and junior guard/forward Marvin Jean drained a pair of three-pointers for six points on the night.

Utah State made 51.9 percent (27-of-52) of its field goals, netting 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) behind the arc and were a season-low 1-of-3 (33.3 percent) at the free throw line.

The USU defense posted a season-low for points allowed for the second game in a row after allowing 46 points last Saturday at Seattle and then 36 points at San Jose State Friday night. The 36 points is a not just a season-low for the USU defense, but also the fewest points allowed since March 5, 2011, holding Louisiana Tech to 30 points in a 72-30 win.

USU’s defense also held the opposition to a season-low field goal percentage in as many games as well after holding Seattle to 31.0 percent last week and then 26.5 percent by SJSU Friday night, on 13-of-49 field goals. SJSU was also 4-of-20 (20.0 percent) behind the three-point line and were 6-of-9 at the free throw line.

D.J. Brown led SJSU with 16 points, while Chris Cunningham added 10 points and nine rebounds.

The Aggies had a 38-24 rebounding advantage, giving Utah State a double-digit rebounding advantage for the fourth-straight game and the 13th time this season. USU is now 14-4 this season when out-rebounding its opponent, having done so in each of the last six games (3-3).

The Spartans took a 9-6 lead on a three-pointer by Brown with 16:15 to play, and then USU scored the next nine points, sparked by a Butterfield trey and ended with a Roland layup for a 15-9 lead with 12:06 left. Xavier Jones hit a jumper for SJSU to close to 15-11, but then the Aggies went on a 16-0 run to open a 31-11 lead with 2:57 on the clock after a Butterfield bucket and USU never looked back. Davis drained a trey at the one minute mark in the half to give USU a 34-16 halftime lead.

Utah State's 18-point lead Friday night was its highest in a WAC game and its second-largest of the year behind a 21-point lead vs. Nicholls State. Utah State is 14-0 this year and has won 80 of its last 82 games when leading at the half. Over the last 13 years, USU is 287-25 when holding a lead at intermission.

Butterfield netted another three-pointer at the 15:48 mark for a 43-21 Aggie advantage. The Spartans sliced the gap to 17 at 43-26 with 11:22 remaining after a putback dunk by Alex Brown, but that would be the closest the home team would get. A three-pointer from Jean gave USU its largest lead of the night of 29 points at 63-34, and the Aggies coasted to their seventh road win this season.

With their three-game road swing now complete, the Aggies then return home to host Denver on Thursday, Feb. 14 and New Mexico State on Saturday, Feb. 16.
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