Jan. 3, 2008
LOGAN, Utah - Freshman forward Tai Wesley and senior All-American guard Jaycee Carroll's 53 combined points paved the way for Utah State to open Western Athletic Conference action with a hard-fought 86-80 win over Hawai'i Thursday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The victory was USU's sixth in a row and eight in the last nine games as the Aggies improved to 11-5 overall and improved to 18-12 in conference openers since the 1979 season.
The loss drops Hawai'i to 4-9 overall and 0-1 in WAC play. The Warriors are now 0-3 on the road this season and have now lost 31 of their last 40 road games dating back to the 2003-04 season.
The win pushes Utah State's home mark to 9-0 this season as the Aggies remain the only team in the WAC that has not lost on its home court this season. Overall, USU has won 24 of its last 25 games in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Wesley, a Provo, Utah native, netted a career-high 27 points including USU's first eight of the game. His 27 points were the second-most for a USU freshman in school history behind Carroll's 28 in his freshman season of 2004-05. Wesley also becomes the fourth-different Aggie to lead the team in scoring this season.
Carroll, an Evanston, Wyo., product, tallied 26 points, 13 in each half and hitting all four of his three-pointers while playing all 40 minutes of the game.
The 26 points leaves Carroll 45 points away from tying USU's career scoring record of 2,127 by Greg Grant (1983-86).
Wesley was a whopping 13-of-16 at the free throw line, both career highs and nearly single-handedly out-shooting Hawai'i from the charity stripe, who was 16-of-18 (88.9 percent) as a team.
As a team, USU was 31-of-41 (75.6 percent) at the charity stripe, both season-highs.
Four Hawai'i players posted double-digits, led by Matt Gibson's 25, while Bobby Nash tallied 19, Riley Luettgerodt added 16 and Jared Dillinger tossed in 12.
UH out-rebounded USU, 28-24, including 14 offensive rebounds, which led to a 12-2 second chance advantage. Carroll and junior forward Gary Wilkinson (South Jordan, Utah) led the home team with six boards apiece, while Luettgerodt had a team-high six for the visitors.
The Aggies shot 25-of-41 (.610) from the field, including 5-of-12 (.417) behind the three-point arc.
The Warriors were 47.4 percent (27-of-57) field goal shooting including 41.7 percent (10-of-24) from three-point land.
Wesley slammed home a dunk just 3:05 into the contest to outscore Hawai'i, 8-6, by himself up to that point. A Carroll three-pointer from the right corner at the 12:31 mark gave USU its largest lead of the first half at 20-14, but Hawai'i later took a four-point advantage at 26-22 with 7:49 left in the half on a trey from Gibson.
USU charged back to take a 36-33 lead at intermission, improving to 10-2 when leading at the half with the win.
The Aggies couldn't seem to pull away from the Warriors in the second half, but wouldn't let them take the lead either, holding them off with timely layups and free throws.
After UH pulled to 65-63, a 9-0 USU run started and finished by Carroll with a pair of free throws and a three-pointer, respectively, put the game out of reach at 74-63 with 4:20 left to play and the Aggies kept the Warriors at bay for the win. USU won its 24th home game in a row in the month of January.
Utah State heads to Reno, Nev., to tangle with conference rival Nevada on Saturday, Jan. 5, before returning home for three games in a row, beginning with New Mexico State on Saturday, Jan. 12.
USU basketball games are broadcast on KVNU (610 AM) and KLZX (95.9 FM) in Logan, Utah, KFAN (1320 AM) or ESPN Radio (1230 AM) in Salt Lake City and KLZX (105.3 FM) in Montpelier, Idaho, as well as on the internet at www.UtahStateAggies.com through Yahoo! Sports. Al Lewis serves as the play-by-play announcer.
For Utah State basketball ticket information, fans can go to www.UtahStateAggies.com and click on "tickets" or call the USU Ticket Office at 1-800-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305.
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