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Utah State basketball: Aggies storm past San Jose State with record-setting second half

First Published      Last Updated Mar 20 2017 06:45 pm


USU 90, SJSU 64 » Aggies score 59 points after intermission.

Las Vegas • Freshman point guard Koby McEwen provided the spark before halftime, and the rest of the Aggies' Big Three — Jalen Moore and Sam Merrill — kept the fire burning.

The Utah State men's basketball team will hope to have some gasoline left in the tank after a record-setting second-half performance in a 90-64 win over San Jose State in the opening round of the Mountain West Conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday.

The Aggies (14-16) scored 59 second-half points to set a MWC tournament record for points in a half by a team. The performance powers USU to the quarterfinals against top-seeded Nevada at 1 p.m. MST Thursday.



McEwen led the way with 22 of his game-high 27 points coming in the second half. His 27 points set a program single-game record for a freshman in a tournament game. He finished 9-for-12 shooting, including 5-for-5 on 3-pointers.

McEwen's 3-pointer before halftime tied the score at 31 going into the break, and served as the impetus for the second-half surge.

"By the time I got to halftime, I was relieved to be tied at half to be honest," Aggies head coach Tim Duryea said. "I just did not think we played with any rhythm or fluidity in the first half at all. So to be tied, we got a handle for how they were playing us a little bit."

McEwen scored the first eight points of the second half as the Aggies started to get some distance from the Spartans. Later, Moore swooped in to grab a rebound on a missed jumper and went back up for an authoritative two-handed dunk to give the Aggies a 52-42 lead. Soon after that, Moore's traditional three-point play made it 55-44 with 12:41 remaining.

Moore, who started the game the day 3 for 9 from the field, finished with 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Merrill (11 points, eight assists and no turnovers) and Quinn Taylor (11 points) rounded out the scoring leaders for the Aggies.

I just went out, got more aggressive and was playing like I know something has got to fall eventually," Moore said. "… Koby definitely fueled the fire for our team coming out hot. Me and Sam fed off of that, and the rest of the team [did]."

San Jose State pulled within 55-51, but the Aggies replied with an 18-0 run to put the game out of reach.

Moore nearly brought the house down when he took off from the middle of the paint and soared over Cody Schwartz for a transition dunk. Moore got fouled on the play and made a free throw to complete another three-point play to put the Aggies up 68-51. Following a layup by Merrill, McEwen capped the run with a pull-up 3-pointer to give the Aggies a 73-51 lead.

"I didn't really come out saying 'I'm going to start gunning.' It just felt right," McEwen said. "And every time I felt right taking the shot I just shot it and just my instincts took over. And usually when I do that, good things happen."

lworthy@sltrib.com

Twitter: @LWorthySports

 

AT A GLANCE

Storylines

The Aggies used an 18-0 run to blow open the game in the second half.

» Freshman guard Koby McEwen scored a game-high 27 points, one shy of his season high.

» Senior forward Jalen Moore scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half.

MWC tournament

At The Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas

Wednesday’s first round

Utah State 90, San Jose State 64

Air Force 83, Wyoming 68

San Diego State 62, UNLV 52 (OT)

Thursday’s quarterfinals

Nevada vs. Utah State, 1 p.m.

Fresno State vs. New Mexico, 3:30 p.m.

Colorado State vs. Air Force, 7 p.m.

Boise State vs. San Diego St., 9:30 p.m.

Friday’s semifinals

Teams TBD, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Saturday’s championship

Semifinal winners, 4 p.m.

Utah State 90, San Jose State 64

SAN JOSE ST. (14-16)

Clarke 1-4 6-8 8, Welage 5-13 2-2 14, Nichols 1-3 3-4 6, Brown 0-6 4-4 4, Hillsman 1-2 0-0 2, Mitchell 2-4 0-1 5, Singer 0-0 0-0 0, Schwartz 0-4 0-0 0, Chastain 0-0 0-0 0, James 1-2 4-5 7, Williams 3-8 2-3 8, Thornton 4-5 0-0 10, Boyce 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-51 21-27 64.

UTAH ST. (14-16)

Janicek 2-5 2-4 6, Moore 7-14 4-6 19, Merrill 5-9 0-0 11, Rector 1-5 3-4 5, McEwen 9-12 4-5 27, Taylor 5-7 1-1 11, Dargenton 0-0 0-0 0, Pearre 3-5 0-0 9, Brito 0-0 0-0 0, Garner 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 33-59 14-20 90.

Halftime—31-31. 3-Point Goals—San Jose St. 7-19 (Thornton 2-3, Welage 2-6, Mitchell 1-1, Nichols 1-2, James 1-2, Brown 0-1, Williams 0-2, Schwartz 0-2), Utah St. 10-17 (McEwen 5-5, Pearre 3-4, Moore 1-3, Merrill 1-3, Garner 0-1, Rector 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—San Jose St. 29 (Clarke 13), Utah St. 30 (Moore 7). Assists—San Jose St. 11 (Brown 5), Utah St. 22 (Merrill 8). Total Fouls—San Jose St. 22, Utah St. 21.


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