LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball posted an 86-72 victory over San José State on Wednesday night, recording the 21st consecutive victory over the Spartans and opening its 2017-18 Mountain West slate with a win.
Sophomore guard Koby McEwen led the Aggies with 24 points and was joined in double figures by sophomore guard Sam Merrill with 18, junior forward Dwayne Brown Jr., with 16, and sophomore guard Diogo Brito with 11. Merrill narrowly missed a double-double after leading the team with nine assists, while Brito recorded a career-high six assists and five steals. McEwen led the Aggies on the glass, finishing with seven rebounds and added five assists.
Utah State led wire-to-wire in the victory, taking its first double-digit lead, 16-5, when junior forward Alex Dargenton recorded a put back with 14:26 on the clock in the first half. The Aggies led by as much as 19, 35-16, when McEwen hit back-to-back free throws with 6:22 to play in the first half. San José State countered with a 12-2 run over the next four minutes to trim the margin to nine, 37-28, but Utah State closed the half with a 7-0 run behind baskets by Dargenton, Brown and Brito, to take a 44-28 lead into the break.
Utah State’s 44 points were the most in the first half for the Aggies this season, besting the previous season best of 42 at Gonzaga on Nov. 18.
The Utah State lead never dipped below double digits in the second half and grew to as much as 25, 66-41, when Dargenton converted an and-1 with 11:37 to play. Redshirt freshman forward Daron Henson’s 3-point bucket with 3:11 remaining gave Utah State an 85-62 lead, but San José State closed out the game with a 10-1 run, leading to the 86-72 final.
SJSU was led offensively by Ryan Welage with team highs of 22 points and eight rebounds, followed by Jaycee Hillsman with 18 points. The Spartans finished the game shooting 50.0 percent (25-of-50) from the floor, 57.9 percent (11-of-19) from behind the 3-point line and 84.6 percent (11-of-13) at the free throw line. Turnovers proved to be San José State’s demise as the visitors turned the ball over 23 times, leading to 36 USU points.
Utah State shot 47.1 percent (33-of-70) from the floor, 36.4 percent (12-of-33) from behind the 3-point line and 80.0 percent (8-of-10) from the free throw line. The Aggies also finished the game with a season-high-tying 23 assists and a season-low four turnovers.
USU will be back in action on Saturday, traveling to San Diego State for its MW road opener against the Aztecs at 8 p.m. (MT). The game can be seen online on ESPN3 via watchespn.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 (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).
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