GAME NOTES: The Utah State Aggies play their final road game of the regular season on Saturday, as they clash with the Texas-Arlington Mavericks in Western Athletic Conference play at College Park Center.
Utah State was a force early on in the campaign, but then a rash of injuries reduced the number of able bodies the Aggies had available. On Thursday night, the team was up against 25th-ranked Louisiana Tech at the Thomas Assembly Center and bowed in an 84-61 decision.
The setback for USU was the second in the last three outings and now the team is 9-6 in league play, which places it in fifth place in the standings.
As for the Mavericks, their 10-5 conference mark has them just ahead of USU entering the weekend. Also in action two nights ago, UTA defeated San Jose State here at home by a final of 81-74, marking their sixth win in seven tries.
The all-time series is tied at one game apiece after the Mavericks posted a 74-68 win in Logan back in late January.
The Aggies were able to score 61 points in Ruston a couple nights back, but by no means were they ever in contention against LaTech which at one point led by as many as 31 points in the second half. Ben Clifford and Jarred Shaw both tallied 14 points and combined for 17 rebounds, while TeNale Roland tacked on 12 points and seven boards off the bench. But the tally in the loss column was really secondary to the health of Spencer Butterfield (seven points, six rebounds) who left with a knee injury.
Since Preston Medlin (16.3 ppg) and Kyisean Reed (12.1 ppg) both went out with injuries, Butterfield has helped to fill some of the void with his 12.0 ppg and 6.3 rpg, but now he is listed as doubtful for this meeting. Should Butterfield join the legion of the infirmed, that leaves Shaw as the only active double-digit scorer for the Aggies with his 14.2 ppg, not to mention being the top man on the glass with 8.3 rpg as well.
Jamel Outler scored 15 points in a reserve role as he helped guide the Mavericks to a seven-point triumph versus the San Jose State Spartans in WAC action at College Park Center on Thursday night. Also coming off the bench for the Mavericks were Karol Gruszecki and Greg Gainey who tallied 14 and 13 points, respectively, followed by Jordan Reves with 10 points and nine rebounds.
While he didn't show up as a double-digit scorer on Thursday versus SJSU, Kevin Butler remains the only player averaging double figures for the Mavericks on the season overall with 10.5 ppg. Arlington is generating a mere 63.7 ppg, shooting 40.6 percent from the floor and a disappointing 65.6 percent at the free-throw line, but at least the defense is doing its job by holding the competition to 61.3 ppg through 26 games.
Keeping the score low will probably help the Aggies who are dealing with a short bench these days, but it also works in favor of Texas-Arlington which is aiming for a surprising season sweep this weekend.
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