UC Santa Barbara 54

(12-8, 6-5 Big West)

(24) Utah State 63

(19-1, 11-0 Big West)

    6:05 PM ET, February 7, 2004

    Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, Logan, Utah

    1 2 T
    UCSB 30 2454
    #24USU 28 3563

    Utah State 63, Santa Barbara 54

    LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Once again, Utah State's strong defense late in the game led to an offensive rally and extended the second-longest winning streak in school history.

    The 24th-ranked Aggies beat UC Santa Barbara 63-54 on Saturday for their 16th straight win, holding the Gauchos scoreless for more than eight minutes during one second half-stretch.

    Utah State (19-1, 11-0 Big West) has not lost since a 56-45 defeat at Utah on Dec. 3, although the Aggies have been pushed in their last two games.

    On Thursday, Utah State held Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to one field goal in the final 11:27 in a 57-43 win.

    After falling behind by five against UCSB (12-8, 6-5) early in the second half, Utah State's stifling defense returned again.

    "It may show a trend, but it's a trend that we don't necessarily want all the time -- to have to climb back at the end. But it shows the character of this team," said Nate Harris, who scored 11 points and had 10 rebounds for the Aggies.

    Cardell Butler led the Aggies with 19 points and all but one Utah State starter scored in double figures. Mark Brown had 11 points and seven assists and Jason Williams scored 10 points. Spencer Nelson was the only starter who didn't make it, but had eight rebounds to go with his nine points.

    The Aggies have won the two games they have played since returning to the AP rankings for the first time since 1971.

    "They pressed us a little bit," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "I thought we were much more aggressive in the second half. We played much better basketball and attacked the basket. That's kind of been what we've done."

    Utah State had to survive a few dry spells, but took control defensively in the second half to clinch the victory. The Gauchos went scoreless for 8:09 midway through the second half as Utah State pulled away for good.

    Cameron Goettsche and Casey Cook led UCSB with 10 points each. The Gauchos, who led 30-28 at halftime, were just 8-for-27 in the second half.

    "We didn't respond," UCSB coach Bob Williams said. "We had frustration fouls and then we had a few turnovers. With the great team that they are, they turn those transitions into scoring opportunities and made them."

    Bryan Whitehead put UCSB up 41-36 on a hook shot with 15:28 left to play, but the Gauchos didn't score again until Cook's two free throws with 7:19 remaining. Utah State also struggled from the floor but slowly scored the next 13 points during UCSB's drought.

    Harris started the 13-point rally with a layup, followed by Williams' inside shot that cut the lead to 41-40. Nelson tied it by going 1-for-2 from the line and Harris put the Aggies back on top after blocking a shot by Bray Skultety, getting fouled and making 1-of-2 from the line.

    Brown added a 3-pointer and the Aggies slowly kept pulling away.

    The Gauchos made a final run, cutting the lead to 53-48 on a shot by Goettsche, but Butler slammed in a rebound off a miss by Chris Huber as the shot clock wound down.

    "I was supposed to rebound anyway, but a voice or something said, 'Go chase the ball.' I got up in the air before it came off and it wound up right in front of me," said Butler, who hit a 3-pointer on Utah State's next possession to put the Aggies up 58-48 with 1:53 remaining.

    Both teams were streaky in the first half. After falling behind 16-10, the Aggies went on a 15-2 run to take a 25-18 lead after two straight 3-pointers by Butler. But then Utah State went cold and the Gauchos rallied with nine straight points.

    Williams hit a 3-pointer to give the Aggies a 28-27 lead, but Cook converted a three-point play to put the Gauchos up 30-28 at halftime.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    2003-04 Season

    Jan 8, 2004 USU 74, @UCSB 67Recap
    » Feb 7, 2004 @USU 63, UCSB 54Recap