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Logan • Although Utah State's performance as a whole in the second meeting against UNLV seemed much different than the first, there was one unsettling thing in common.
It was a dim night for some of the Aggies' top stars.
Preston Medlin, Spencer Butterfield and Kyle Davis have done a great deal of heavy lifting to get the Aggies rolling again in the second half of Mountain West play, but the trio was shaky against the long and quick Rebels. All three had scored double-digits in three straight games, but only Butterfield did Saturday, and they combined for 21 points on only 8-for-37 shooting in the 73-62 loss.
It was a struggle to get them open looks at all, a problem coach Stew Morrill attributed in part to UNLV's athletic and focused defenders.
"They were on it defensively," he said. "We couldn't get clean looks. We couldn't score in the post. They blocked shot after shot. They chased our perimeter guys off screens with their athleticism."
The only standout player who managed to have a standout night was Jarred Shaw, who had his moments against Khem Birch. Maybe none was greater than a stutter-step, spin-around hook that briefly gave the team some hope.
Shaw finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the year.
"Shaw played great tonight," guard TeNale Roland said. "He did a good job being patient and making good moves down in the post."
Rice wins in return
UNLV coach Dave Rice has a long history at Utah State, as one of those who was in the building for the notorious "water bomb" in 1990 as a player when the Rebels were soaked by a device planted behind their bench at the Spectrum.
Rice has also been an assistant at Utah State, and an opposing assistant coach, but he had never been the head coach of a team visiting Logan until Saturday.
Although his team made it look smooth in the second half, Rice said he was nonetheless feeling fortunate to escape the Spectrum with a win.
"It doesn't get any easier," he said. "If you think about it, in 16 seasons Coach Morrill has only lost 25 games on his home floor, so it's a great accomplishment to come in against a team that is well-coached and ready to play."