|The Valentine's Day heartbreaker|
Denver does all those things too though, and their team is healthy, so we knew this was going to be a tough one.
To Utah State's credit, there were a handful of times where it looked like this game was on the verge of getting away from them, but the Aggies manned up and kept it within reach.
The Aggies gave themselves plenty of chances to come out winners tonight. Most of those chances came at the free throw line, and unfortunately, they struggled pretty badly from there.
It shouldn't have had to come to that, because when Jarred Shaw got fouled with four seconds to go, that basket should have counted. One official even called it that way initially, until one of the others swooped in and said it was on the ground. That's a difference between a one-point lead with a chance to make it two, versus trailing by a point and going up for a 1-and-1.
Shaw misses the front end (which seemingly everyone did tonight for USU), but the Aggies get the rebound and Marcel Davis gets fouled.
Luckily the Aggies had the double bonus on their side, because Davis only hit one of two to tie it. Make both of those and this game ends with a USU celebration.
It seemed like the Aggies had all the momentum going into overtime, and when Chris Udofia fouled out with USU leading by a point and 2:23 remaining, things were looking pretty good.
Denver had an answer though, and then another one. Before you know it, they were leading by three in the last minute.
Spencer Butterfield hit USU's first, and only 3-pointer of this game to tie it, putting the Aggies just one defensive stop away from overtime.
And by all accounts, the Aggies locked down pretty well on defense on the last Denver possession. They forced the Pioneers into taking an off-balance, contested, deep 3-pointer to win it... and Brett Olson nailed it.
Absolute dagger to the heart for this team after fighting their asses off against a really good Denver team. The last thing they can do now is get down about it, because the next two games are against the two most hated teams out there.
- Outside of free throws, Jarred Shaw did exactly what he needed to do tonight. He played big, tough, smart, physical, and determined.
- Spencer Butterfield was his awesome self again. No surprises here.
- A turnover on USU's second to last offensive possession of overtime was costly, but outside of that, Ben Clifford was as good as he's ever been. His 14 points were a career-high, seven rebound went nicely with that too. He was perfect from the field, good from the free throw line, and had three assists too.
- Marvin Jean and Marcel Davis seemed to be the guys most frustrated by Denver's high-pressure defense. They clearly had the scouting report on Jean's quick trigger from deep and didn't give him any room to get those off, and from inside the 3-point line, Jean just seemed to look a little lost offensively. Davis made a few flashy finishes, but also threw up a few desperation shots around some high pressure defense in the paint. Six assists and only one turnover for the freshman though, so that's a plus.
- Jordan Stone keeps getting better. They're very small improvements, but they are improvements.
- Big game tonight, so obviously the Aggie Pope showed up. And to nobody's surprise, the Aggie Pope jinx is still alive and well. USU teams have scraped out victories a time or two with him present, but the loss column seems a whole lot more populated.
- In 18 combined minutes between Tenale Roland and Matt Lopez, they combined for two points, one rebound and one turnover... In other words, nothing to see here.
- Aggies won the rebounding battle by 17 and lost the turnover battle by six. Denver made six more 3-pointers than USU, and that is your difference right there.
- The USU student section was horrible tonight. No involvement at all outside of a few die-hards down front. Shit needs to change with the attitude of the crowd. Shit needs to change a lot, and shit needs to change badly.