by Wade Denniston, USU Athletic Media Relations
LOGAN, Utah – Freshman Koby McEwen provided the offense for Utah State and fellow freshman Sam Merrill played lock-down defense on the Mountain West’s leading scorer, helping the Aggies defeat league-leading Nevada, 74-57, on Wednesday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
McEwen scored a game-high 26 points, including 19 in the second half alone, to go along with six rebounds, as Utah State (10-11, 4-6 MW) snapped the Wolf Pack’s two-game winning streak.
Merrill added 13 points, five rebounds and four assists, but it was his presence on the defensive end of the court that paid huge dividends for the Aggies. The native of Bountiful, Utah, was given the task of defending Nevada’s Marcus Marshall, who came into the game averaging a MW-best 21.1 points per game. However, he finished with a season-low two points – the first time he’s been held under double figures this season – on 1-of-12 shooting from the field.
As a team, the Wolf Pack (18-5, 7-3) came into the game leading the MW in scoring (79.8 ppg), scoring margin (+8.0), 3-point field goal percentage (39.0) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.9).
However, the Aggies held Nevada to season lows in points (57), field goals made (22), field goal percentage (31.9), 3-point field goals made (4) and 3-point field goal percentage (15.4). The Wolf Pack shot 22-of-69 from the field, including 4-of-26 from beyond the arc, and just 9-of-20 from the free-throw line (45.0 percent).
On the other side of the court, Utah State shot 25-of-51 from the field (49.0 percent), including 7-of-19 from 3-point range (36.8 percent), and 17-of-26 from the free throw line (65.4 percent.)
Jalen Moore had 13 points for Utah State and has now scored in double figures in 34 consecutive games. The senior wing also grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds as the Aggies outrebounded the Wolf Pack 50-36. For Moore, who also had seven assists, it was his first double-double of the season.
Senior guard Shane Rector chipped in seven points off the bench for the Aggies, whose bench outscored Nevada’s 10-2. Redshirt sophomore forward Alexis Dargenton pulled down a career-best 13 rebounds on the night.
Three players scored in double figures for the Wolf Pack as D.J. Fenner and Jordan Caroline each had 15, while Cameron Oliver recorded a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Nevada pulled to within 40-38 with 10:04 remaining in the game on a 3-pointer by Fenner, but that’s as close as the Wolf Pack would get the rest of the way. McEwen and Moore keyed a 14-4 run for the Aggies as the duo combined for 12 of those points, helping the hosts build a 54-42 advantage with 6:43 to go.
Utah State’s lead ballooned to as many as 19 with less than a minute remaining, but before the Aggies blew the game open, the game was nip-and-tuck as evidenced by five ties and 13 lead changes.
Nevada never led by more than three points on the night. The game was tied 25-all at halftime.
Up next for Utah State is a trip to Boise, Idaho, for a matchup with Boise State on Saturday, Feb. 4. Tip-off from Taco Bell Arena is slated for 6 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN3.
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 @Aggiehoops. 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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