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Utah State bench sparks 71-50 victory over Troy

LOGAN, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - The Aggies bench outscores Troy's reserves 45-9 in route to a 71-50 victory in the final game of the BTI tournament.
LOGAN, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Behind a 45-9 bench points scoring advantage, Utah State men's basketball toppled Troy, 71-50, Saturday night in the final game of the Basketball Travelers Inc., Classic.

With the win, USU improved to 3-0 to win the BTI Classic, improving to 49-1 all-time in tournaments it hosts, including winning each of its last 48 tournament games. The victory boosted the Aggies' record to 9-2 on the season, winning its last four games in a row. Troy fell to 4-7 on the season after three losses on the weekend.

“It’s nice to keep with the tradition of winning this tournament, playing three-straight nights," said head coach Stew Morrill. "I thought we were really good in the first half, and we got ourselves a cushion and coasted from there."

Senior Spencer Butterfield was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates senior guard Preston Medlin and sophomore forward Kyle Davis. Also on the all-tournament team was Adam Link of Western Illinois along with UC Santa Barbara's Alan Williams and Kyle Boswell.

“It was obviously not as competitive there at the end, but we have to give a lot of credit to our team," said Butterfield. "We came out with a little bit more energy than they did in the beginning. By playing defense like we did, we were able to get on it right at the start and just continue it through the game, so that was nice." 

Butterfield tallied a career-high 31 points to go with a season-high 10 rebounds in USU's 77-71 OT win over UCSB, finishing the tournament with 52 points for a 17.3 points per game averages. UCSB's Williams was runner-up in the MVP voting, as he averaged a double-double with a palindromic 21.0 ppg and 12.0 rebounds per game average, as well as setting a new tournament record with 11 total blocks on the weekend.

Medlin was the leading scorer among the Aggie starters Saturday night with eight points, while Butterfield and Davis posted seven points each.

Junior forward Danny Berger netted a season-high and tied a career-high with 17 points, while freshman forward Jalen Moore posted a career-high 11 points as the Aggie bench posted a season-high 45 points, compared to nine from the Trojans' bench. Troy was led by Antonie Myers with 14 points while Kevin Thomas tallied 10 points.

Kyle Davis led USU with six rebounds, as the Aggies were out-rebounded by the Trojans, 30-29, marking just the second time this season and first since the season-opener that USU was out-rebounded by its opponent. Troy was led by Myers' seven boards, while Thomas and Josh Warren had five rebounds each.

Utah State shot 55.1 percent (27-of-49) from the field, its fifth game this season making over half of its shots. The Aggies netted 61.5 percent (8-of-13) of their three-pointers, marking the third game that USU made over 60 percent of its treys. USU was also 9-of-12 (75.0 percent) at the free throw line.

The Aggie defense limited Troy to 29.2 percent (14-of-48) field goal shooting, as well as holding them to 10.5 percent (2-of-19) from three-point range, a season-low for a USU opponent. The Trojans were 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) at the charity stripe.

Utah State's defense also held Troy without a point for nearly the first six minutes, as the Aggies bolted out to a 14-0 lead, capped by a Berger jumper at the 14:40 mark. Troy's first points came with 14:17 on the clock after a three-pointer by Tevin Calhoun. The Trojans cut the gap to 22-12 with 8:16 left after a layup by Hunter Williams. However, the Aggies regained control and momentum after back-to-back dunks by Moore and Davis. Butterfield provided an alley to Moore from just beyond half court for a monstrous dunk. After a Troy miss, Butterfield corralled the rebound and started a fast break that Medlin fed the ball to Davis for another dunk that seemed to take the wind out of the Trojans' sails, as USU led 38-16 at halftime.

The Trojans whittled the deficit down to 43-29 after a layup by Myers with 14:29 to go, but the Aggies scored the next seven points, capped by another Berger jumper at the 11:16 mark and USU coasted to the BTI Classic-clinching victory.

After the Christmas break, Utah State returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 28 for the Aggies’ final tune-up before conference play when USU takes on San Diego Christian in a 7 p.m. tip-off. The game is the second half of a day-night doubleheader with the USU women’s team, who play College of Idaho on Dec. 28. The Aggies then open action in their inaugural season in the Mountain West on Wednesday, Jan. 1 at Air Force. Utah State hosts San José State on Saturday, Jan. 4 in the Aggies' MW home-opener.
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