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Vandals wilt in second half

LOGAN, Utah – The Idaho men’s basketball team has shown a knack the last few weeks for mustering big rallies and closing out games.

Friday night, Utah State was the one that mounted a comeback against the Vandals. And boy, what a comeback it was.

The Aggies stormed back from 15 points down to blast Idaho 67-50 in a key WAC contest for the Vandals at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Idaho (16-12, 7-5 WAC) looked helpless in the second half as Utah State shot 75 percent from the field and Spencer Medlin poured in 27 of his game-high 32 points after intermission.

The Vandals had won five straight after stumbling at Fresno State on Feb. 2. Now coach Don Verlin hopes they can bounce back in similar fashion.

The third-place Vandals dropped 11/2 games behind New Mexico State for second place in the WAC with a trip next week to Hawaii and San Jose State to finish the regular season. UI is a half-game ahead of the Warriors in the standings and it lost to UH in Moscow.

“What I challenged (the players) to do was, let’s make sure we get that one half out of the way and let’s play the next five games like we played the last five games,” Verlin said. “And let’s make sure we don’t let one half of basketball take away from the things that we’ve done.”

After Idaho steamed to a 29-14 lead with 4:19 left in the first half, USU (15-14, 6-6) scored the final eight points of the first half and the first six points of the second half.

UI guard Deremy Geiger hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to silence the crowd of 10,178 for a brief moment. But the Aggies unleashed a 29-9 spurt over the next 10-plus minutes to put the game away.

“They made some good adjustments at halftime, and they come out and just really physically dominated us in every aspect of the game.” Verlin said. “And we just didn’t get the defensive stops that we needed to stay in this basketball game.”

Utah State held Kyle Barone, the Vandals’ leading scorer and winner of the last two WAC Player of the Week awards, to six points on 2-of-9 shooting. Geiger led UI with 13 points in his return to Logan, where he started his career before transferring to Idaho.

In the second half, Medlin was 9 of 9 from the field with five 3-pointers and five rebounds.

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