"It's just like a deep breath and let it out," he said. "It's so much nicer traveling tomorrow when you don't have to worry about losing and how mad coach is going to be tomorrow."
Only a week and a half since wondering how far it might fall, Utah State has rattled off three straight wins against Mountain West opponents. Its latest over the Rams was the most convincing yet, and it dislodged a gorilla from off the team's back.
The Aggies smothered Colorado State early, holding them to only five first-half field goals while building a 25-10 lead. The Rams had trouble throughout with Utah State's physicality and their own crooked attempts, finishing only 17-for-57 from the field and being kept remotely in the game only by a parade of free throws.
There were no such problems for Utah State, which was hot from the start. The Aggies shot 5-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half, then loaded up on layups in the second. Every time the Rams managed to scrape up points, Utah State had an answer. Even free throws went well: The Aggies were 16-for-17.
Medlin led with 18 points and five assists, in a performance that has become almost customary for him this season. Spencer Butterfield had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Kyle Davis wrapped up with 12 points.
Rams coach Larry Eustachy remarked afterward the game was "over in the first 10 minutes."
USU coach Stew Morrill, who spent seven seasons at CSU before coming to Logan, didn't hide his pride as his team made his return to Fort Collins a sweet one.
"Right from the start, we played real well defensively," he said. "We made it real hard to get in and get looks and they missed some shots. I feel proud of our guys the energy we had, the effort on the boards."
Rebounding was a huge edge for the Aggies in a game with so many missed shots. Utah State finished with a plus-13 rebounding margin against the scrappy Rams, typically an offensive rebounding force. Jarred Shaw led the team with 10 boards, and the Aggies had 32 defensive rebounds as a team. They also scored 11 points off the offensive glass.
Going into a home weekend bout with UNLV, Utah State has no problem finding confidence any longer with three straight wins at its back.
"I think we just kind of started over in the second half [of conference play,]" Butterfield said. "We forgot about the past and we're just looking forward from now on. We gotta keep doing that."
Utah State 71, Colorado State 62
O Aggies holds Colorado State to just 17.2 percent shooting in the first half.
• Preston Medlin has 18 points and five assists.
• Utah State wins on the glass, 40-27.
Utah St. 71, Colorado St. 62
UTAH ST. (15-9)
K. Davis 4-9 4-4 12, Shaw 3-5 2-2 8, Medlin 7-17 2-2 18, Roland 2-4 0-0 6, Butterfield 4-8 4-4 14, M. Davis 2-2 1-2 5, Clifford 0-0 0-0 0, Berger 0-0 2-2 2, Moore 1-1 1-1 3, McGlaston 1-2 0-0 3, Stone 0-1 0-0 0.
Totals 24-49 16-17 71.
COLORADO ST. (14-11)
Santo 0-3 0-0 0, Avila 3-11 8-8 14, Bejarano 7-14 5-6 21, Octeus 6-17 9-10 22, De Ciman 1-3 2-2 4, Holt 0-2 0-0 0, Hurst 0-1 1-2 1, Smith 0-3 0-0 0, Cohn 0-3 0-0 0.
Totals 17-57 25-28 62.
HalftimeUtah St. 29-15. 3-Point GoalsUtah St. 7-15 (Roland 2-2, Butterfield 2-4, Medlin 2-8, McGlaston 1-1), Colorado St. 3-18 (Bejarano 2-7, Octeus 1-5, Smith 0-1, Cohn 0-1, De Ciman 0-2, Avila 0-2). Fouled OutHolt. ReboundsUtah St. 40 (Shaw 10), Colorado St. 27 (Bejarano 6). AssistsUtah St. 14 (M. Davis 6), Colorado St. 8 (Avila 4). Total FoulsUtah St. 22, Colorado St. 18. A3,909.
Utah State's defense shines in victory. • www.sltrib.com/sports