Feb. 7, 2009
LOGAN, Utah - No. 22/25 Utah State used a 17-0 run spanning the last two minutes of the first half and the opening six minutes of the second stanza to pave the way for the Aggies' 60-52 hard fought win against Louisiana Tech Saturday night in Western Athletics Conference men's basketball action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The victory was the Aggies' 18th straight, moving them to 23-1 on the year. USU maintains an unblemished 11-0 WAC record, the best opening mark in conference history since 1998-99 when Utah posted a 14-0 WAC ledger.
Louisiana Tech fell to 9-15 overall and 3-8 in WAC play, dropping its eighth game in its last 10 outings, after snapping a four-game losing skid with a 78-75 victory at Nevada on Thursday.
The Aggies improved their record against the Bulldogs to 8-1, including 4-0 at home, while winning their 31st-straight home game overall, the country's second-best active home winning streak, trailing the 37 in a row by Kansas.
Utah State also expanded its school-record best start to a season and remains tied with No. 2 Oklahoma for the most victories and the best record in the nation.
Newbold and sophomore forward Tai Wesley had seven rebounds apiece, as Newbold snared six of his in the first half, while junior guard Jared Quayle dished out eight assists, matching his season-high set Thursday night vs. New Mexico State.
Louisiana Tech was led by Kyle Gibson's 14 points, while Olu Ashaolu added 12 points off the bench. Four players had a team-best five rebounds each, as the Bulldogs had a slight 29-27 rebounding edge, including 15 offensive boards.
Saturday's first half was reminiscent of the peach-basket days of basketball, as Louisiana Tech's defense put the clamps on Utah State in the early going, holding USU scoreless for the first six minutes of the game while opening a 5-0 lead. A dunk from freshman forward Brady Jardine later tied the score at 9-9 before USU led 15-11 on a three-point play by Wilkinson with 4:20 on the first half clock. The Bulldogs tied it at 17-all with 1:35 to go in the half on a jumper from Magnum Rolle, but the Aggies closed out the half with five unanswered points, all on free throws, taking a 22-17 intermission lead.
Out of the break, Wesley hit a bucket followed by a Quayle three-pointer then a Wilkinson layup and the Aggies were up 29-17 just two and a half minutes into the second stanza. Sophomore guard Pooh Williams capped the 17-0 run with a three-pointer from the left wing as the shot clock was winding down, and USU had LTU doubled-up at 34-17 at the 14:30 mark.
David Jackson ended the Bulldog scoring drought with a three-pointer, but the Aggies maintained a double-digit lead until a Gibson jumper pulled LTU within 44-36 with 7:19 to play. After USU opened a 12-point gap at 52-40 with 4:43 to play on a Wilkinson dunk-and-one, the Bulldogs hit back-to-back three-pointers and a layup by Ashaolu to trim the margin to six. However, the Aggies hit 6-of-7 at the free throw line to keep the Bulldogs at bay and secure the win.
USU ended the night hitting 15-of-17 (88.2 percent) at the charity stripe, while netting 19-of-40 (47.5 percent) from the field, including 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) from three-point range. Five different Aggies drained three-pointers Saturday, tying a season-high by matching games against Houston Baptist (Dec. 30) and Idaho State (Dec. 20).
Louisiana Tech was 38.2 percent (21-of-55) field goal shooting, hitting 4-of-20 (20.0 percent) behind the arc, while making a perfect 6-of-6 free throws.
The Aggies hit the road for two games, playing at Idaho on Thursday, Feb. 12 and at Boise State on Saturday, Feb. 14 before retuning home to host Cal State Bakersfield in a non-conference contest on Wednesday, Feb. 18.
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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