Feb. 18, 2010
LOGAN, Utah - Junior guard Pooh Williams scored all 15 of his points in the second half, including 11 of Utah State's points in a row, sparking the Aggies to a thrilling 67-61 win over Louisiana Tech Wednesday night in a Western Athletic Conference men's basketball battle at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
USU won for the 11th game in a row, triumphing in 15 of its last 17 games, to improve to 21-6 overall and 11-2 in WAC play, stretching its lead atop the league standings to a game and a half over 9-3 New Mexico State. Louisiana Tech is now 20-6 overall and 8-4 in league play, sliding to a tie for third with Nevada, who beat Fresno State, 74-70, Wednesday.
The Aggies are now 5-0 against the Bulldogs in Logan and hold a 9-2 series advantage. Wednesday's victory redeems one of USU's two league losses, avenging an 82-60 loss to LA Tech at Ruston on Jan. 4, 2010 in both teams' second conference game.
The Aggies were the winning team for the 63rd time in the last 65 home games, and Utah State has won 22-straight WAC home contests and 31 of its last 32 overall at home. Wednesday's game was nationally televised on ESPN2, USU's third of a four-straight home game stretch on nationwide television.
Williams was joined in double-digits by fellow starters junior forward Tai Wesley with 16 points while senior guard Jared Quayle logged his second double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Junior forward Nate Bendall added 11 points and nine boards, helping USU to a 38-32 rebounding edge, as the Aggies have out-rebounded their opposition in 24 of their 27 games, improving to 19-5 when doing so.
Three Louisiana Tech players posted double-figures, led by Magnum Rolle's 15 points while DeAndre Brown and Kyle Gibson netted 14 points apiece. Rolle and Brown pulled down seven rebounds each.
A Bendall dunk gave USU a 60-56 lead with 1:42 to play, but Rolle hit a pair of free throws with 1:33 left to pull LTU within two before a three-point play by Bendall with exactly 30 seconds on the clock put the Aggies ahead by five at 63-58. Brown hit a bank-shot three-pointer from the left wing with 16.7 ticks to go to pull the Bulldogs within 63-61, but junior guard Tyler Newbold and Quayle each netted a pair of free throws to secure the win.
The Aggies were 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the final 3:46 of the game after going 0-of-3 at the charity stripe in the first 36:14 of the game, including missing their lone attempt in the first half. Meanwhile the Bulldogs were 11-of-13 in that same amount of time while making both of their two free throws down the stretch.
USU shot 27-of-58 (46.6 percent) from the field, hitting 6-of-15 (40.0 percent) from three-point range, with Quayle netting three treys, as the Aggies were just shy of their NCAA-leading 42.6 average on the season entering the game. Utah State also came into the game ranked second in the nation in free throw percentage at 77.4 percent, and ended the night 7-of-11 (63.6 percent).
The Aggies had 16 assists, with Wesley tying a season-high for the third time this season by dishing out six helpers while Newbold distributed four assists. Brown had a team-high four of LA Tech's 14 assists. Both teams only had seven turnovers, marking Utah State's ninth game with single-digit miscues.
USU opened a 13-4 lead after a layup by sophomore forward Brady Jardine at the 11:45 mark. Junior guard Brian Green hit a long jumper with 9:37 on the clock for the Aggies' largest lead of the night at 20-10. The Bulldogs clawed back to 25-24 with 1:53 to go on a three-pointer by David Jackson before USU took a 29-26 lead into halftime, as Jackson missed a three-pointer in the waning seconds. The Aggies led at the break for the 21st time this season, improving to 19-2 with a halftime advantage.
Out of intermission, a Wesley jumper with 18:25 on the clock put USU ahead 34-28 before LA Tech battled back, taking its first lead of the night at 37-36 on a Brown three-pointer from the right corner with 16:19 remaining. Later a Wesley layup knotted the score at 43-all with 13:41 to go. Those would be USU's last points for nearly the next 10 minutes by someone named other than Williams, as the junior guard took control of the Aggie scoring, reeling off the next 11 points, mostly on scooping layups. Wesley hit a pair of three throws with 3:46 to play, completing an 11-4 USU run to give the Aggies a 56-52 lead, setting up the game's final drama.
The intense contest had six lead changes and three ties, but USU secured the win with a controlling 36-20 points in the paint advantage.
The Aggies will take a break from conference action but keep the stretch of nationally televised games from the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum going when USU hosts Wichita State on Saturday, Feb. 20 in the ESPN BracketBuster game. Tip-off is slated for 9:59 p.m. (MT) and will be televised on ESPN2.
USU resumes WAC play with its final regular-season road trip, traveling to Honolulu to take on Hawai'i on Thursday, Feb. 25 in a 10 p.m. (MT) tip-off. The Aggies then return to the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for their final two games of the regular-season, hosting Fresno State on Monday, March 1 and New Mexico State on Saturday, March 6, both in 7 p.m. (MT) starts.
For Utah State men's basketball ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305, or online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on the "buy/renew tickets" under the "tickets" drop down menu.
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