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LOGAN (AP) — It has been since 1985 that a team from the Southeastern Conference team has visited the Smith Spectrum at Utah State and Georgia found the place to its liking, 99-74.
But Mississippi State was not treated as hospitable Saturday night. Three Utah State players scored in double figures, led by 21 from Preston Medlin, and USU ran past the Bulldogs 87-68.
Jarred Shaw dropped in 17 and Spencer Butterfield 16 for USU (4-0). Shaw also had eight rebounds.
Mississippi State (3-1) was led by Gavin Ware with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Colin Borchert added 15, Craig Sword 11 and Dre Applewhite 10 for the Bulldogs.
Utah State led by double digits most of the second half, extending a 13-point halftime edge to 61-43 with 10:50 to play behind the 3-point shooting of Medlin. The senior dropped in 4-of-7 from behind the 3-point line, 7-of-12 from the field. The Aggies shot 48 percent from the 3-point line while MSU went 5-of-16 from long range.
Behind Ware, who had a career-high 23 points in his last outing against Mississippi Valley State, the Bulldogs had 34 points in the paint compared to 18 for USU, but USU had eight more second chance baskets and the Aggie bench outscored MSU 24-19. USU also out rebounded the Bulldogs 41-23 in the contest.
Bulldog head coach Rick Ray said he liked his team's inside presence on offense and points from in close, but was "disappointed in our competitive fire."
"They got all the loose balls and we didn't; they went to the free throw line and we didn't," he said. "They out rebounded us. Those things are part of the toughness factor and in that we failed."
Ray said he was pleased with Applewhite's defense.
"Dre did a good job for us tonight," Ray said. "He was forced to play the 4-spot for us tonight and he did a good job. Jacoby Davis also did a good job tonight."
Utah State led the entire first half, as Shaw scored the first six points and had nine in the half.
The Bulldogs stayed within striking distance behind eight first-half points from Ware. A breakaway layup and free throw by MSU's Sword brought the score to 25-22 with 5:47 to play.
USU would then go on a 16-6 run, marked by three 3-point shots from Medlin and one from Jalen Moore to close out the first half with the Aggies leading 41-28.
"First and foremost," Ray said after the game, "they (USU) can shoot and we can't. Plus, we are supposed to be this big, athletic SEC team and we couldn't guard them. They beat us up on the rebounds."
USU head coach Stew Morrill said he was especially happy with his bench play and the teamwork his player showed.
"We had a lot of good passing tonight. We got a lot of good looks at the basket," Morrill said. "We shared the ball well. We had a number of guys play well."
USU out rebounded Mississippi State 22-12 in the first half, 41-23 for the game, with reserve Jalen Moore snaring eight and back-up center Jordan Stone six.
"Jalen has got such a good feel for the game," Morrill said of the freshman forward. "He has a good temperament for the game - never too high or too low and he is comfortable in two positions, which really helps."
"Jordan (Stone) is a real physical dude," he continued. "He's a good defender and he makes his free throws."
USU went to the line 27 times, making 20, while Mississippi State was 11-of-17.
The win avenges a 66-64 loss at Starksville on Dec. 31, 2011, when an Aggie 3-point attempt fell off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
The Bulldogs had 34 points in the paint compared to 18 for USU, but USU had eight more second chance baskets.
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