College hoops • Junior has career-high 23 points, 11 rebounds.
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Logan • If one or two shots had dribbled in for Utah State at the finish, Thursday night might've been remembered very differently.
Spencer Butterfield was on the cusp of putting himself in the hall of Spectrum clutch performers. If the Aggies had won, no matter the circumstances, he would've been there.
But Utah State fell 74-68, through no true fault of his own. The junior guard gave just about all that could've been asked: 23 points, 11 rebounds, three assists in 32 minutes. Even as the Aggies dropped a game, they found a leader.
His humility after the game might've spoken the most for him.
"It does help confidence-wise," Butterfield said of his career night in a Utah State uniform. "But I have to get a lot better."
Watching him play, it was hard to imagine how. Coach Stew Morrill said after the game there had been a few players who had played as hard "as they possibly could." One of the players he was talking about was undoubtedly Butterfield.
His 3-point shooting raised the Aggies' hopes when there was otherwise none to be had. He helped carry them through a long stretch nearly 16 minutes when no other player made a field goal.
But the effort, more than anything, was his contribution. His rebounds didn't speak to his length or athleticism, because of these he usually has a disadvantage. It was about his intensity, wedging his shoulders in among the Mavericks' big men and leaping up as high as he could.
The losses of Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed have meant a loss of leadership, and, in many ways, flair. Utah State has lost its biggest playmakers, the ones who draw the biggest cheers.
Butterfield showed Thursday he's taking on that mantle for the Aggies from here on out. The question is whether it will translate to winning.
"I'm sure a lot of guys realized how they need to step up now," Butterfield said. "And they will. We'll be alright."