DENVER (ABC 4 Sports) - Utah State men's basketball was short-handed without two injured starters and came up on the short-end of a 68-57 score at Denver Saturday afternoon in Western Athletic Conference play at DU's Magness Arena.
In a nationally televised game, USU played the game without starters senior forward Kyisean Reed and junior guard Preston Medlin due to injuries sustained in Thursday's game at New Mexico State. Saturday was the Aggies' second loss in a row after its 13-game win streak was snapped with Thursday's loss at NMSU. Utah State is now 14-3 overall and 5-2 in WAC play. With the loss Saturday, USU lost in back-to-back games for just the 21st time in the past 13 years and the first time since at Nevada and Fresno State in the same weekend on Feb. 2 and 4, 2012, respectively.
DU won its seventh game in a row to improve to 11-7 overall and 7-1 in conference action, remaining in second-place behind league-leader Louisiana Tech.
Saturday was also USU's second loss in a row to DU after a nine-game win streak in the series by the Aggies. Utah State now holds a 54-37 all-time series lead, as the USU-DU series is the fourth-oldest in USU history.
Utah State was led by junior guard Marvin Jean's career-high 14 points, hitting a career-high four three-pointers, topping his previous season-high scoring output of eight points which he had done four previous times. Junior center Jarred Shaw was one rebound shy of his seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and game-high nine rebounds, helping USU to a 27-17 rebounding advantage. Saturday was USU's first double-digit rebounding margin since Jan. 5 against Idaho and was the Aggies' ninth double-digit rebounding margin this season, including the first seven games of the year.
Junior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield and junior guard TeNale Roland netted nine points apiece for the Aggies while sophomore forward Ben Clifford added eight points. Freshman guard Marcel Davis dished out a game-high tying four assists, while Butterfield notched three helpers.
Four Pioneer players netted double-digits, led by Brett Olson's 18 points while Chase Hallam added 14 points and Chris Udofia tallied 13 points and Jalen Love tossed in 10 points. Hallam also led DU with four rebounds.
Denver darted out to an 11-3 lead at the 14:32 mark after a layup by Cam Griffin. USU pulled within five on two different occasions as both Butterfield and Roland were fouled on three-point attempts and both promptly drained all three free throw attempts, the last by Roland with 11:17 to go, pulling USU within 14-9. That would be the closest the Aggies would get, as the Pioneers opened their largest first half lead at 32-18 with 3:44 left on a Love trey, and DU took a 36-25 lead into halftime.
Love hit an old-fashioned three-point play with 12:07 on the clock to give the Pioneers their largest lead of the night at 53-31, and the 22-point deficit was USU's largest of the season. The Aggies whittled away at the gap and trimmed it down to 10 points three different times, the last with 2:18 remaining on a pair of Shaw free throws, but couldn't get any closer.
Utah State returns home to host UT Arlington on Thursday, Jan. 24 and Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Jan. 26. Both contests tip off at 7 p.m. (MT) at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.