GAME NOTES: The Utah State Aggies try to run their win streak to four in a row tonight, as they host the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara during the second round of the annual Basketball Travelers Classic at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Since losing back-to-back outings against BYU and Pacific, the Aggies have rebounded with three consecutive victories, the latest coming last night in a 68-52 romp over Western Illinois.
As for the Gauchos, they too are enjoying a three-game win streak at the moment, thanks in part to a 57-54 triumph over Troy on Thursday night which was decided in the final seconds.
The Aggies lead the all-time series by a count of 39-24, although UCSB won the most recent meeting back in 2012 by a score of 72-64.
On Saturday, both programs will hit the hardwood one last time in this event as Utah State tangles with Troy and the Gauchos close with a meeting against Western Illinois.
Kyle Boswell played the hero last night for the Gauchos as he converted a 3- pointer with less than 10 seconds remaining to break a 54-54 tie and give UCSB the win over Troy. Boswell came off the bench to knock down two of his four 3- point tries, finishing with nine points. The top overall performer for the Gauchos was again Alan Williams who registered a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Taran Brown with 12 points.
A 58.9 percent shooter from the field over the course of the seven games in which he has appeared, Williams continues to be the primary offensive force for the Gauchos with his 23.3 ppg, adding a team-high 10.4 rpg as well. Michael Bryson (11.9 ppg), Boswell (10.8 ppg) and Brown (10.0 ppg) also play key roles on offense for a team that is connecting on an impressive 50.4 percent from the floor at the moment.
Despite playing without a suspended Jarred Shaw, the leading scorer on the season, the Aggies had little trouble taking care of business against Western Illinois last night. Kyle Davis took the lead this time around as he registered a double-double consisting of 15 points and 12 rebounds, followed by Spencer Butterfield and Preston Medlin with 14 points apiece as the team overcome 19 turnovers by generating a 25-7 scoring advantage at the free-throw line.
In the absence of Shaw (16.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg), the Aggies will again need Medlin (14.0 ppg, 4.1 apg), Butterfield (13.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Davis (10.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg) to assert themselves where needed in order to pick up the slack. This is a team that has been outscoring the opposition by more than nine points per game and generating a 10.4 rpg advantage on the glass.
The real challenge for the Aggies will be in the paint where they will have to figure out a way to slow down Williams without Shaw on their side. However, even if Williams puts up significant numbers that doesn't mean the Gauchos are guaranteed a win by any stretch.
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