Ruston, LA – Brandon Gibson scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor and Raheem Appleby added 15 points as No. 25 Louisiana Tech cruised to a 84-61 victory over Utah State on Thursday.
Alex Hamilton recorded nine points and eight assists for the red-hot Bulldogs (25-3, 15-0 WAC), who have now won 17 straight for the second-longest streak in the nation. The team also moved into the Top 25 for the first time since the 1984-85 season on Monday.
"Shocker. Shocked," Louisiana Tech coach Mike White said. "You have heard me say it all year that on nights that we make shots to complement our ability to defend, we are pretty good. That happened tonight at a level that had not been done by us all year."
Ben Clifford scored 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the Aggies (19-8, 9-6), who have lost three of their last five games. Jarred Shaw also had 14 points to go along with eight boards.
Louisiana Tech opened up the game like a team which wanted to prove it should be ranked, as the Bulldogs led 15-2 seven-plus minutes in and never eased up. Appleby's 3-pointer with 6:14 remaining in the first half increased the margin to 33-14.
At the break, Louisiana Tech held a comfortable 49-23 advantage as its bench outscored the entire Utah State team for the half. The Bulldogs also forced 11 turnovers which resulted in 20 points.
Little changed in the second half, as the lead grew to 70-40 with 12 minutes remaining. The Bulldogs cruised to the victory from that point on.
To make matters worse for the already shorthanded Aggies, Spencer Butterfield, left the contest midway through the second half with an apparent hip injury. The junior guard, who averages 12.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, hit the floor hard after trying to grab a rebound and remained on the ground unable to walk and in visible pain. Teammates had to carry Butterfield off the court and into the locker room.
Utah State was already without leading scorer Preston Medlin (broken wrist) and senior forward Kyisean Reed, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL earlier in the season.
"The game was over early," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "They established the ground rules by just dominating us. We were never really in the game. It was a thorough butt-kicking. They are playing really well. They are extremely active right now. The defense just causes havoc when they turn up their press. You cannot get much going. They switch everything. They are doing a great job. They got a lot of depth. They looked like a Top-25 team to me tonight."
Louisiana Tech hasn't lost since an 80-72 defeat at McNeese State on Dec. 12. ... The Bulldogs improved to 13-0 at home and have won 17 straight as the host dating back to last season .... It was the final regular-season matchup between the schools as conference rivals. Utah State heads to the Mountain West next season, while Louisiana Tech is set to join Conference USA.