Through 15 games this season, Utah State has been, well, Utah State. Stew Morrill's program has been one of the more consistently successful and consistently under-the-radar programs in the country in the past five seasons. And with a 14-1 start (the only loss coming to Saint Mary's in November), Utah State had been largely reading from the same old script.
Until last Thursday, anyway.
That game, a crucial away game against WAC rival New Mexico State, was a 64-51 loss. But it was more than that. As Utah State announced Monday, it was also the second half in which junior guard Preston Medlin fractured his wrist and senior forward Kyisean Reed suffered a torn ACL. Medlin will miss 6-to-8 weeks, according to the school. Reed's injury is season-ending.
Both injuries are devastating. Medlin was averaging 16.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game, with an offensive rating of 121.0, a 39.3 percent mark from beyond the arc, and one of the 10 lowest defensive foul rates (just 1.0 per 40 minutes) in the country. Reed was nearly as efficient (his offensive rating was 118.7), but he was an even greater contributor on the defensive end, where he posted a 6.9 percent block rate and 3.5 steals per 100 possessions. Morrill will have to replace both players, who averaged about 22 percent usage of available possessions, with a group of reserves and freshmen that may or may not be ready for the roles.
"First and foremost is our concern for Kyisean and Preston. This is as tough as it gets and we hurt for them first and our team second," USU coach Stew Morrill said in a statement released by Utah State. "We expect our players to step up and compete, as we have a lot of season left."
Utah State lost its second game over the weekend, a really tough road trip to Denver (which remains much better than you think, and the clear WAC favorite). Whether Morrill can right the ship in the face of such sudden injury headwinds remains to be seen.