by Wade Denniston, USU Athletic Media Relations
LOGAN, Utah – Sophomore guards Koby McEwen and Sam Merrill combined for 41 points, knocking down eight shots apiece from the field, as Utah State pulled away in the second half to beat Air Force 71-49 on Wednesday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Merrill led the way with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. McEwen shot 8-for-18, including 2-for-8 from beyond the arc, and 2-for-4 from the free throw line en route to his 20 points.
Senior forward Quinn Taylor added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Aggies (11-11, 4-5 Mountain West), who snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 8-3 at home this season.
Utah State improved to 6-1 this season and 25-6 under head coach Tim Duryea when holding its opponent to less than 69 points. In fact, the 49 points scored by Air Force are the second-fewest allowed by USU this season (47 by Mississippi Valley State) and the fewest scored by the Falcons in series history.
Ryan Swan led Air Force (8-11, 2-5) with 10 points and a team-high-tying five rebounds. Fifteen different players checked into the game for Air Force, but Swan was the lone Falcon to score in double figures.
After only leading 29-25 at intermission, Utah State opened the second half on a 24-9 run to surge out to a 53-34 advantage with 10:31 to go in the game. Merrill scored 13 points during that game-changing spurt, including the first eight.
Utah State limited Air Force to just 13.6 percent shooting from 3-point range (3-for-22), including 6.7 percent in the first half alone (1-for-15). The three made treys by the Falcons are the second-fewest made against USU this year (two by Valparaiso).
Overall, Air Force shot just 32.7 percent from the field on the night (18-of-55) and 66.7 percent from the free throw line (10-of-15).
The Aggies shot 50.0 percent from the field (26-of-52), including 32.1 percent from 3-point range (9-of-28), and 71.4 percent from the free throw line (10-of-14).
Sophomore guard Diogo Brito had a well-rounded game for Utah State with nine points, a career-high-tying six assists, and five rebounds. Junior forward Dwayne Brown Jr. led the Aggies on the glass with nine rebounds, to go along with a career-high two blocks.
This was the final of a two-game homestand for the Aggies, who head back out on the road to face Fresno State on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 5 p.m. (MT) at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. The Bulldogs (15-6, 5-3) are coming off a 69-63 home win against UNLV on Tuesday night.
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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