LOGAN, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Kyisean Reed scored a season-high for the second time in three games with 21 points to earn Most Valuable Player honors of the 2012 Utah State hosted World Vision Challenge, sponsored by Gossner Foods as the Aggies defeated Southern Illinois, 70-58, Saturday night in the final game of the tournament at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
With the win, Utah State has now won eight-straight games and improves to 9-1 for its best start to a season since the 2008-09 team won 24 of its first 25 games. USU also improved to 46-1 all-time in tournaments it hosts and is now 217-19 at home under 15th-year head coach Stew Morrill, including a 7-1 record this year.
Southern Illinois finished the tournament in third-place with a 1-2 record and is now 7-4 on the season. UC Davis went 2-1 in the tournament to place second, while Nicholls State lost all three of its games.
Joining Reed on the all-tournament from Utah State was junior guard Preston Medlin, who had 16 points and six assists against SIU. Other members of the all-tournament team include T.J. Carpenter from Nicholls State, Desmar Jackson from Southern Illinois, and Corey Hawkins and Ryan Sypkens from UC Davis.
Reed finished the game shooting 7-of-12 from the field and 7-for-8 at the free throw line, while Medlin was 4-of-7 from the field, 3-of-4 from three-point range and 5-for-5 at the charity stripe. Junior guard Marvin Jean tied his season-high with eight points for the third time in as many games in his first career start as he was 3-of-5 from the field and 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
Jackson led all scorers in the game with 29 points for Southern Illinois, as he was 11-of-16 from the field, 5-of-7 from three-point range and 2-for-2 at the free throw line. Jackson also had six rebounds, four steals and three assists in the game.
Utah State shot a season-high 60.0 percent (24-40) against Southern Illinois, including a blistering 70.6 percent (12-17) in the second-half. USU also shot a season-high 66.7 percent from three-point range (6-9) and 76.2 percent at the free throw line (16-21). Southern Illinois shot 42.9 percent (21-49), including 50.0 percent from three (7-14) and 69.2 percent at the line (9-13).
For the first time this year, Utah State was out-rebounded as Southern Illinois had a 25-24 advantage on the glass, including a 14-8 disparity on the offensive end, which led to a 14-4 advantage for the Salukis in second chance points. USU’s 24 rebounds in the game were a season-low.
Utah State freshman point guard Marcel Davis scored the first points of the game on a three-pointer, which was answered by Southern Illinois’ Jackson. The game was later tied at 8-all following another Jackson trey, before USU took the lead for good with a 9-2 run. USU’s lead eventually swelled to 12 at 33-21 with 2:23 to play in the first stanza following a Jean three-pointer and the Aggies went into the locker room up eight at 35-27 after a Reed layup just before the half.
Southern Illinois closed to within five points on three separate occasions early on in the second-half including at 41-36 at the 16:07 mark, before Utah State scored 11 unanswered points to take its largest lead of the game at 52-36 with 12:25 to play on a pair of Reed free throws. From there, SIU never got closer than 10 points as USU posted the 12-point win.
Following the Christmas break, Utah State will begin its final season in the Western Athletic Conference at UTSA on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 6 p.m.