LAS VEGAS, Nev. - For the first time since the 1994-95 season, Utah State men's basketball (10-7, 3-1 Mountain West) defeated UNLV (12-4, 1-2 Mountain West) in Las Vegas, 85-78, on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
USU was led by sophomore guard Koby McEwen with 21 points, including 8-of-8 from the free throw line, along with four rebounds and an assist. Sophomore guard Sam Merrill had 20 points, eight boards, five assists and a steal. Junior forward Dwayne Brown Jr. had 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Redshirt freshman forward Daron Henson was a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc to record 12 points and three rebounds.
Utah State opened the game with back-to-back baskets from junior forward Quinn Taylor and Brown, giving the Aggies a 4-0 lead and forcing a UNLV timeout. Utah State then used a 13-3 run midway through the first half to take its first double-digit lead of 12 (30-18) with 7:34 to play in the first half. The advantage grew to as much as 15, 41-26, when Henson connected on his fourth triple of the opening half with 3:31 on the clock. McEwen hit a pair of free throws with five seconds on the clock to give the Aggies a 46-36 lead going into the break.
Brown opened the second half with seven points to give USU the 53-42 edge with 17:52 left to play. The Runnin' Rebels used a 5-0 run to cut the lead to six before McEwen knocked down a pair of free throws and a dunk from junior guard DeAngelo Isby put the Aggies' lead back in double figures, 59-49, with 13:19 remaining. UNLV responded with a 12-2 run to tie it up at 61 with 9:46 on the clock. The Rebels extended the run to lead by three, 66-63, before the Aggies responded with a 7-2 run to take back the lead, 70-68, with 7:01 left to play. UNLV again took the lead, 78-76, with 2:01 to go, but USU closed out the game with a 9-0 run off of treys from Merrill and McEwen, along with free throws from McEwen and Brown to win it, 85-78.
Freshman forward Brandon McCoy led the Rebels with 23 points and nine rebounds, along with a block. Senior guard Jordan Johnson had 16 points, three rebounds, seven assists, one block and a steal. Junior guard Kris Clyburn had 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, one block and one steal. Freshman guard Amauri Hardy had 10 points, two boards, three assists and one steal.
Utah State finished the game shooting 52.5 percent (31-of-59), including 40.0 percent (10-of-25) from behind the arc, while shooting 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the free throw line.UNLV shot 47.0 percent (31-of-66) from the floor, 26.1 percent (6-of-23) from behind the 3-point line and 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from the free throw line.
Utah State returns to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Wednesday, hosting Colorado State (8-9, 1-3 Mountain West). Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumen’sbasketball) and on Twitter (@usubasketball). Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).
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