College basketball • With opposing defenses focusing on Shaw, Aggies hitting 46 percent on 3-pointers.
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TeNale Roland and Jarred Shaw have a nightly gym ritual.
Go to the gym. Make 500 shots. That's it.
Maybe it's just getting back to the rhythm of sinking those baskets, or maybe it's just a year under his belt, but something has clicked for Roland so far this season. The senior point guard has taken over the starting role, and is chipping in more points and shooting better than 46 percent from behind the arc.
"I think I've improved a lot from last year," he said. "Getting extra shots at night time. Having other guys who can shoot, that's helped me a lot."
Roland's not the only one: As a team, Utah State is shooting 46 percent from 3-point range. And the 3-0 Aggies have benefitted early from their deep shot accuracy.
The team is second in the conference in 3-point shooting, and the Aggies make 7.7 long shots per game.
As defenses have been quick to key in on USU's leading scorer, Shaw, the perimeter players have gotten free looks.
"We've been very efficient on offense," Preston Medlin said. "You can't just pick your poison. We're all just clicking, and it helps when you've got some guys down low. It gets the three-point shooters some space."
But it's also clear that individuals have also brought more to the table in the 3-point game this season. While it's a small sample size with just three games, Roland and Spencer Butterfield are both shooting better than 10 percent above last year's averages, while Medlin is shooting above his career average (44.4 percent this year, 41.5 percent for his career).
Aggies staying close to home
Although the Aggies have some challenges in their non-conference schedule ahead, there's one factor they won't have to worry much about until January: flying.
Utah State will settle for being homebodies for the next nine games, leaving the Spectrum only twice, and not leaving the state at all in that stretch. The Aggies are notoriously hard to beat at home under Stew Morrill, who has a 226-22 record in Logan.
For Utah State, it represents the chance to have a reliable practice schedule, access to the training room and other home amenities, and not have to worry about the headaches of air travel.
Yes, please, Medlin said.
"It's a great advantage," he said. "We don't have to get to Salt Lake, wait two hours, fly out and go through all that. We can stay home, have lot of good practices and work. We've just got to come focus every day."
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