by Ashley Springer, USU Athletic Media Relations
LOGAN, Utah – Utah State’s men’s basketball (9-11, 3-6 Mountain West) beat Fresno State (13-8, 5-4 Mountain West), 78-65, in its lone meeting of the 2016-17 season on Saturday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
USU was led by freshman guard Koby McEwen with 22 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Senior wing Jalen Moore scored in double figures for his 33rd consecutive game with 17 points and also had six rebounds, three assists and a block. Moore passed Kevin Nixon (1985-88) on the all-time scoring list with 1,457 career points, moving to No. 14 on the USU record books.
Sophomore forward Norbert Janicek tied his career high in both points and rebounds with 14 and eight, respectively. Senior guard Shane Rector had 14 points, including a career-high 10 at the charity stripe, and added two steals and a rebound. Freshman guard Sam Merrill had a career-high eight boards, to go along with five assists and five points.
A couple of buckets from Moore and Janicek gave the Aggies the early 4-2 lead with 16:41 left to play in the first. A trey from Moore put the Aggies up 11-9 with 12:09 remaining and the Aggies never trailed again. After Fresno State tied it at 11 with 11:53 left, a layup from McEwen and a triple from Merrill gave the Aggies a 16-11 lead with 10:52 left in the half. Layups from Janicek and Moore gave the Aggies’ their largest lead of the half of seven, 20-13, with just under eight minutes to play. The Aggies’ lead was cut to four, 27-23, going into the break.
Fresno State opened the half with a layup, cutting Utah State’s lead to two, 27-25, with 19:41 left to play. Free throws from McEwen followed by layups from Moore and Janicek gave the Aggies the 35-27 lead with just over 17 minutes to go. A Fresno State three cut the margin to one, 37-36, with 14:20 remaining, but that was as close as it would get. Free throws from Merrill and layups from Moore and McEwen brought USU’s lead back up to seven, 43-36, with 11:46 left to play. The Bulldogs came to within five, 45-40, with 10 minutes to play. However, the Aggies responded with an 8-1 run sparked by a McEwen trey, followed by free throws from Moore and Janicek to lead 54-41 with 8:04 left in the game.
The Aggies kept the double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. The advantage was cut to 10, 63-53, with 3:04 remaining, but McEwen responded with another three to extend the cushion to 13, 66-53, with two and a half minutes left. A free throw from McEwen gave the Aggies its largest lead of 15, 78-63, with 13 seconds to play and the Aggies went on to win 78-65. The Aggies shot 75 percent (12-of-16) from the floor in the second half and 78.1 percent (25-32) from the free throw line.
The Bulldogs were led by redshirt sophomore guard Deshon Taylor with 21 points, three rebounds one assist and one steal. Freshman forward Bryson Williams followed with 18 points, six rebounds, two blocks and one assist. Redshirt junior guard Jaron Hopkins had 15 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Utah State finished the game shooting 56.4 percent (22-of-39), including 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from behind the arc, while shooting 74.4 percent (29-of-39) from the free throw line. The Aggies’ numbers at the charity stripe marked season highs in both free throws made and attempted. Fresno State shot 35.0 percent (21-of-60) from the floor, 11.1 percent (2-of-18) from behind the 3-point line and 61.8 percent (21-of-34) from the free throw line.
USU will next face Nevada (18-4, 7-2 Mountain West) on Wednesday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (MT).
For Aggie basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the “Buy Tickets” tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
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 at youtube.com/UtahStateAthletics. Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program at Twitter @USUAthletics, on Facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics, or on Instagram @USUAthletics.
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