LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Freshman guard Koby McEwen scored 22 of his team-best 27 points in the second half, powering Utah State to a 90-64 victory over San José State in the first round of the Mountain West Championships on Wednesday.
McEwen added four rebounds and four assists and tied Aggie All-American Jaycee Carroll with his seventh 20-plus point performance of the season as a freshman. Senior wing followed with 19 points and added seven rebounds and four assists. Freshman guard Sam Merrill and junior guard Julion Pearre rounded out those in double figures for the Aggies with 11 apiece. Merrill led Utah State with eight assists and tied a career high with three steals.
McEwen's 27 points were the most by a Utah State player in a postseason game since Tony Brown had 29 points against Pacific in the semifinals of the 2002 Big West Tournament. The total also surpassed Carroll's freshman scoring mark of 22 in the championship game of the 2005 Big West Tournament, also against Pacific.
Utah State trailed most of the first half until a layup by Jalen Moore capped a 7-0 run and gave the Aggies their first lead, 18-17, with 7:19 on the clock. The run continued as the difference grew to five, 22-17, behind baskets by Moore and sophomore forward Quinn Taylor with 5:30 to play.
San José State countered with a 14-6 run over the next five minutes, but a 3-point bucket by freshman guard Koby McEwen tied the game 31-31 going into the half.
McEwen picked up where he left as the second half began, scoring the first eight points of the half behind back-to-back 3s and a pair of free throws to extend the USU lead, 39-31. Another 3-point bucket by McEwen two minutes later gave Utah State a 48-35 lead, with 15:56 to play.
Utah State didn't relinquish the lead for the rest of the game, growing the margin to as much as 25 in the run-away 90-64.
San José State was led in scoring by Ryan Welage with 14, followed by E.J. Boyce with 11. Brandon Clarke led the Spartans on the glass with 13 rebounds.
Utah State finished the game shooting 55.9 percent (33-of-59) from the floor, 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from behind the 3-point line and 70.0 percent (14-of-20) at the free throw line. San José State shot 35.3 percent (18-of-51) from the floor, 36.8 percent (7-of-19) from behind the 3-point line and 77.8 percent (21-of-27) at the free throw line.
The Aggies' Mountain West Championship run will continue on Thursday, facing No. 1 Nevada at 1 p.m. (MT). Fans can listen to the game on KVNU with Al Lewis providing play-by-play and Rod Tueller providing color. The game will also be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network (Comcast Ch. 269/753HD, Dish Network Ch. 158, DirecTV Ch. 221).
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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