Logan • DeAngelo Isby’s stat line at half suggested that he may have picked up three quick fouls in the first five minutes and immediately gone to the bench.
No, that actually didn’t happen.
Isby’s role in the first 20 minutes of Utah State’s home opener just happened to be fairly inconsequential.
But Isby got untracked in the first moments of the second half. And so did the Aggies, who took an 81-73 win over Montana State at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum to bounce back from a road loss at Weber State last Friday to start the season.
“He had a poor first half. He kind of regrouped mentally and I was really proud of his performance in the second half,” said Utah State coach Tim Duryea of his junior college transfer, who didn’t score in the first half but poured in 18 after the break. “This is a hard level and there are halves that are not going to go very well for you.”
“I told him [Isby] at half time, ‘You’ve got to get your head right,’” said sophomore guard Koby McEwen, who finished with a game-high 20 points. “If you don’t clear your mind, you’re going to play bad again in the second half.”
Utah State (1-1) trailed 41-40 at intermission.
Isby got his first basket of the ballgame right out of the break by uncorking a long trey.
He then canned another for a 46-41 lead and the Aggies’ lead stayed above three the rest of the way. Another long-range basket, followed by a conventional two, both by Isby, pushed the margin into double digits as Utah State opened a 56-45 gap with 13:36 remaining.
Tyler Hall and Harald Frey each scored 15 points for the Montana State (1-1), but Hall was well below his average of 23.1 points per game last season.
“Credit there goes to Sam Merrill. Sam is our guy when we want to take somebody out,” Duryea said. “That’s what we call our sniper coverage — and that’s Sam. The goal is to make him dribble to his shot, not let him catch and shoot.”
Senior Alex Dargenton scored 11 points and hauled in 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.
Dargenton noted afterward that Montana State was similar in size to the Aggies.
“A little bit like us,” he said.
But McEwen said that the principles of rebounding shouldn’t change no matter who Utah State runs into later in the season.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re small,” McEwen said. “Boxing out doesn’t take much height or skill.”
Junior guard DeAngelo Isby scores all 18 of his points after halftime, including two quick 3-pointers to start the second half.
Koby McEwen scores 20 points to lead all players and the Aggies guard was joined in double figures by senior forward Alex Dargenton, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Utah State has a night off Tuesday before hosting Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday.