Jan. 23, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - A 17-0 first-half run propelled Utah State to a 59-49 win over New Mexico State in a battle of the Aggies Saturday night in Western Athletic Conference men's basketball action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Balanced scoring by USU led the home team to its 13th-consecutive win overall and its 21st-straight WAC victory in improving to 18-2 overall and 7-0 in league play. NMSU lost its second in a row in sliding to 10-11 overall and 4-3 in WAC action. Saturday was the navy Aggies' fifth-straight home win in the series, improving to 22-7 in Logan while taking an all-time 34-27 series advantage.
Saturday was also Utah State's 26th-straight home win, moving up to the third-longest active streak in the country, as the navy Aggies have now won 78 of their last 80 overall home contests
Senior forward Tai Wesley was the lone USU player in double-digits with 18 points, moving up to No. 10 on Utah State's career points list, now with 1,540 and passing Reid Newey (1984, 87-89). Wesley is just five points shy of the No. 9 spot held by Eric Franson (1991, 94-96) with 1,545 points. Wesley also is closing in on Franson for the No. 8 spot on the USU career field goals list, as the current Aggie now has 581 makes, just three shy of Franson's 584 field goals.
All nine USU players got in the scoring column, as senior guards Brian Green and Pooh Williams tallied nine and eight points, respectively. Senior forward Nate Bendall pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds while junior forward Brady Jardine snared 10, guiding the home Aggies to a 45-30 rebounding advantage, including 15 on the offensive glass which led to a 16-6 second-chance points edge.
NMSU was led by Troy Gillenwater's game-best 20 points while Hernst Laroche added 11 points. Gillenwater and Tshilidzi Nephawe pulled down six rebounds each.
The visitors hit three of their first five three-pointers to open a 15-9 lead before the home Aggies ralied to take an 18-17 lead on an up-and-under by Wesley with 8:41 on the first half clock. After Gillenwater hit a jumper for a 19-18 NMSU lead at the 7:14 mark, sophomore guard E.J. Farris hit a layup to spark a 17-0 USU run that included back-to-back long jumpers by Green from just inside the three-point line at the top of the arc, the first in the waning seconds of the shot clock. Williams hit consecutive treys from the left corner before Farris accounted for the next five points, feeding junior forward Morgan Grim for a dunk and then hitting a three-pointer of his own from the left corner to cap the 17-0 spurt for a 35-19 Utah State lead.
NMSU closed to 35-23 at the half, and cut the gap to nine points at 36-27 at the 16:17 mark of the second half on a Gillenwater baseline jumper, but Jardine thwarted the threat with a jumper and the visitors never got within single digits again. The home Aggie advantage swelled to 48-29 on a Green three-pointer with 11:00 on the second stanza clock and USU coasted to the victory.
After shooting 56.0 percent (14-of-25) from the field in the first half, Utah State ended the night at 41.5 percent (22-of-53), while hitting 5-of-16 (31.3 percent) of its three-pointers. The navy Aggies were also 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) at the free throw line.
New Mexico State made 20-53 (37.7 percent) of its field goals, making 4-of-16 (25.0 percent) behind the arc. The maroon Aggies were 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) at the charity stripe.
USU hits the road for two road games, heading to San Jose, Calif., to take on San Jose State on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. (MT) and then to Honolulu to face Hawai'i on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 10 p.m. (MT). Utah State opens the second month of the year by hosting Nevada on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 9 p.m. (MT) in a nationally-televised game on ESPN2.
To purchase tickets, or for more Aggie basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Ticket Office at 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305, in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or on-line 24 hours a day at www.utahstateaggies.com under the "tickets" drop down menu.
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