How about last night’s game! What a contest! What a dogfight! BYU definitely got more than they bargained for last night with that one.
Here’s a few thoughts after going back through the game in my mind and looking through the stats.
What a way for USU to claw their way back into that game. You have to imagine that flashes of the St. Mary’s game were fresh in their minds going into that final minute.
It is a testament to the coaching genius of Stew Morrill that USU was able to compete at all with seven players, much less come back to tie it in the final minute. (Should we really count Matt Lopez? He played, but he didn’t play more than 60 seconds in that game and just took a foul on Shaw’s behalf.) The fact that this came down to the wire like it always does in Provo gives me tremendous optimism for next year’s team when we once again have a full roster.
Of course, hats off to Spencer Butterfield. Since he has been forced to carry the offensive load for the Aggies, he hasn’t disappointed. He played awesome. A Medlin-Butterfield backcourt next year is going to be a thing of beauty to watch.
I think it’s fair to say that both sides would have just preferred it if the officials would have lost their whistles. Basketball is a fun game to watch when there is some flow and continuity on the floor, but when you’re averaging more than a foul per minute of game time, that makes the game very difficult to watch. There were 51 fouls called last night and 60 free throws between both teams. Speaking of free throws…
Holy free throws, Batman. USU missed 10, count them, 10 free throws last night. Marvin Jean, Jarred Shaw and Marcel Davis went a combined 3-for-8 from the line. Stone missed four, including two front ends of 1-and-1 (though he did make three of four big free throws when it really mattered down the stretch, so I can’t bag on him too much). Had both USU and BYU made every free throw they had taken, USU would have won by five.
Speaking of Stone, it’s clear to me that he is the premier on-ball post defender that we have. He disrupts offensive players in the post better than anyone else we have.
Any points you’re going to get from him are gravy on the mashed potatoes, and so I have to give him major kudos for his performance last night. His defense seriously frustrated BYU down the stretch, and he scored 9 points on 2-of-3 shooting, including that awesome post move in the second half.
It’s been ages since I’ve seen Stone make a post move and actually score the bucket. He played excellently last night, and I’m really happy for him.
The point is, when you’re playing the style of basketball that USU is forced to play with their small roster, you have to hit your free throws. This is a problem that cost the Aggies the game against Denver and arguably last night’s game. This has got to change.
Additionally, offensive possessions for your opponents have to be limited. Looking at the stat line, I was shocked to see that USU actually outrebounded BYU on the offensive glass by one (13 to 12). It didn’t seem like it, particularly during the final minute. BYU got three chances to hit a game winner, and USU got none.
Like I said at the outset, I’m incredibly optimistic for the future of Aggie hoops. A good friend of mine who happens to be an ardent Cougar fan sent me an email this morning in which he said the exact same thing every Aggie fan is thinking this morning, I’m sure:
Play that game in Logan, and it’s a 10-point Aggie win. No doubt.
We’ll get you next year, BYU.