|Pane was straight KILLIN IT on Sunday|
With that in mind, USU needed to pretty much just control the tempo of this game and execute offensively to carry them to victory. Doing things like shooting 63.8 percent from the field, hitting on 75 percent of 3-point attempts and dishing a season-high 26 assists would be just extra credit.
So for a final grade on this game, the Aggies get an A+++ (which for you non-education majors, would be classified as "pretty damn good").
Utah State came out in the game pretty much the same way they have this whole tournament. They were executing early, hitting shots from all over, and playing team basketball better than they have at any point over the rest of the this season. Even after opening up a huge lead early on behind some stellar team-play and great outside shooting, Oakland eventually got hot from deep, which is kinda their bread and butter, but even throughout that streak, they were still giving up seemingly at least two points on every Aggie possession, only really bringing the game as close as 11 points.
The Aggies never let up either. 60 points in the first half, 45 in the second; both of those are generally high scoring totals for one half of Aggie basketball. Compared to most teams, Oakland still filled it up. Their scoring prowess is really pretty freaking good, and if they could defend at all, that would be one hell of a basketball team.
Regardless, USU rose to the challenge, and now they get to host the CIT championship game Wednesday. If The Spectrum isn't totally packed, that would be an absolute travesty.
I don't care if it's just the CIT, it's the tournament we're in, and for the season we had, some people didn't think we even deserved that. Now we have the rare opportunity to end our season with a win. That is a rare opportunity that you have to be happy for.
Above all else, look at how this team has picked themselves up to make something memorable out of this season! They could have mailed it in and just let things finally come to a painful end and go down as the "down year" team that we all struggled through together with. Now, they can finish this with a win and go down as the down year team who never quit and still gave the college basketball world a big reminder of how special Utah State basketball really is!
I thought I was going bold when I issued the Man Challenge to this team to win this tournament. Right now it looks an awful lot like they had the same thing in mind all along!
See you Wednesday!
- Best game of the year today for Brockeith Pane, and I'm not sure that's even up for debate! That was one hell of a performance, and really, a great stamp on how redemptive I think his whole last third of this season has been! Pane started slow and struggled through a lot of this year, but he's been nothing short of great for a while now. 20 points, three rebounds and 10 assists, all while frustrating the nation's top scorer to 6-of-21 shooting. HELL OF A GAME!!!
- While we're talking of seniors playing redemptive basketball, Morgan Grim has been an absolute beast in the CIT!! So far he's averaging 13.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in the tournament. He's scored in double-figures in three of the last four games. He had only scored in double-figures three times in 16 games prior to this tournament.
- Danny Berger basically bent over and mooned the couple people on the internet who are trying to say he's not a D-1 caliber player. Granted, Berger has been streaky all year, but how people can not see his value to this team, is beyond me. Above anything else, I don't care who you are, but if you average more than 25 minutes a game on a Stew Morrill team, you're bringing something to the table. Tonight, Berger gave everyone a reason to need their umbrellas, draining 5-of-6 from behind the 3-point line. He also chipped in with three rebounds and four assists on top of his 17 points. Call me crazy, but I think he's a keeper!
- That Medlin kid went off for 26 points, nine boards and three assists. He nailed 4-of-5 from the 3-point line and just looked like an assassin all night. In regards to people hating on Berger, there were also people hating on Medlin earlier this year, so we all know how smart the internet can be.
- Solid game for Jordan Stone too, and not just because he was so much bigger and taller than everyone else out there. He was in the right places at the right times to get his buckets via the system. THAT is encouraging for him.
- As has been tradition though, this was a total team win! And as has been tradition, the player of the game honors will reflect that.
Player of the Game: The Utah State Aggies