In the first half, the Spartans were very aggressive. They attacked the rim and got to the line repeatedly, converting 10-of-13 attempts. However, the Aggies’ stifling defense forced the Spartans into difficult shot attempts and a rough 25.9 percent from the field (26.7 percent from 3-point range). Additionally, the Aggies won the rebound battle in the first half 21-16.
Utah State senior Spencer Butterfield lit the home team up with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting (4-of-6 from beyond the arc), adding seven rebounds in the first half alone. Butterfield continued his solid play in the second half, finishing with 22 points, three assists and two steals. However, the story of the game was a battle of the bigs as senior Spartan Chris Cunningham went head up with Utah State senior Jarred Shaw.
Cunningham would put in a confidant 28 minutes before a knee injury would take him out of the game. Cunningham would finish with 10 points (on 1-of-5 from the field, 1-of-2 from 3-pt range and 5-of-6 from the line), nine rebounds and two blocks. Not to be out done Shaw took his opportunity with Cunningham side-lined. He exploded with a double-double in the second half of play alone, finishing with 19 points and 17 rebounds.
In the end, the team play and consistent shooting of the Aggies proved too much for the Spartans. The San Jose team fought hard, but at the end of the day, a young and injury-depleted team will struggle when they are playing a veteran team led by five seniors committed to team play.
The most impressive prospect in this game was 6-7 freshman Aggie, Jalen Moore. He is long, explosive, possesses a smooth stroke and he is tough as nails. On one play, he attempted to throw down a fast break dunk on a trailing Spartan. He was fouled and fell awkwardly to deck. Grimacing in pain, he walked to the line and hit both free throws before being taken out for the rest of this game. We will continue to scout Moore as his college career evolves.
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