Jan. 17, 2009
LOGAN, Utah - Saturday night's showdown between Utah State and Boise State, two of the four Western Athletic Conference regular season co-champions from last year, lived up to its billing and when the dust settled, the Aggies emerged victorious, pulling away for a 79-65 win at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Sophomore forward Tai Wesley's season-high 26 points and half court shot at the halftime buzzer helped USU remain atop the conference standings with an unblemished 5-0 league mark and 17-1 overall. That is the Aggies' second-best start to a season in school history behind the 20-1 opening to the 2003-04 campaign.
Utah State's current 12-game winning streak is now the third-longest spurt in the country after Clemson and Pittsburgh both lost earlier Saturday.
After entering the weekend tied with USU for first-place, Boise State lost its second league game in a row after dropping a 77-63 decision at Nevada on Thursday, and the Broncos are now 12-5 overall and 3-2 in WAC play.
The Aggies improved to 15-0 versus the Broncos at home and now possess a 22-7 all-time ledger, winning 16 of the last 20 games played in the series. That includes USU winning three of the last four meetings, with the lone loss coming in the semifinals of last season's WAC Tournament.
Junior guard Jared Quayle and senior forward Gary Wilkinson joined Wesley as double-digit scorers, as Quayle tallied 18 points and Wilkinson added 10. Wesley pulled down a team-leading eight rebounds, while sophomore guard Tyler Newbold added six boards, as USU had a 31-29 rebounding edge.
Boise State was led by Ike Okoye's 15 points off the bench, while Paul Noonan and Jamar Greene added 14 and 10 points, respectively. Kurt Cunningham snared a game-high nine rebounds.
Newbold and Boise State's Anthony Thomas shared game-leading assist honors with six helpers apiece.
The Aggies were an even 50.0 percent (26-of-52) field goal shooting. They netted 6-of-16 from three-point range, including Wesley's half-courter at the intermission buzzer to give USU its largest lead at that point of 44-33 at the break, improving to 12-0 this season when leading at the half. Utah State also hit 21-of-27 at the free throw line, as Wesley was 7-of-12 and Wilkinson was 6-of-6, running his streak of consecutive free throws to 20.
Boise State made 44.0 percent (11-of-25) of its field goals in each half, finishing at 22-of-50 (44.0 percent), making 35.7 percent (5-of-14) beyond the arc, as well as 80.0 percent (16-of-20) at the charity stripe.
USU bolted out to an 8-2 lead after Quayle hit a three followed by a jumper and three-pointer from Newbold and later led 12-3 before Boise State bounced back to knot the score at 17-all after a Thomas three-pointer. The Broncos took a short-lived lead at 24-22 on a three-pointer from Noonan, and moments later led 26-24 before the Aggies scored 10 straight points, with Wesley scoring four points in the streak to give USU a 34-26 lead with 5:06 left in the half. Wesley's first-half scoring wasn't done, as he snared an errant pass from Thomas and launched a shot from just inside the half stripe, draining nothing but net as the buzzer sounded for a 43-33 Aggie advantage at the break.
Boise State battled back to 47-44 five minutes into the second half after an Okoye layup. The Broncos wouldn't get any closer as Quayle sparked USU's 13-2 spurt and Wesley capped it with a layup for a 60-46 lead with 10:07 to play. The Aggies led by near double-digits the remainder of the game, leading by as much as 15 at 69-54 on a Quayle three-pointer with 4:48 remaining and cruised to the win.
The Aggies now hit the road, heading to San Jose State on Jan. 22 and Hawai'i on Jan. 24 before returning home to host Nevada on Jan. 29.
Aggie basketball tickets are available online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on "tickets" in left column, or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
Utah State 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. Al Lewis serves as the play-by-play announcer, while Rod Tueller serves as the analyst during home games.
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