by Wade Denniston, USU Athletic Media Relations
LOGAN, Utah - Despite a career-high 24 points from senior wing Jalen Moore, the Utah State men's basketball team dropped its Mountain West opener to Boise State, 83-80 on Wednesday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Moore shot 7-for-18 from the field and was a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line. He has now scored in double figures in 25 consecutive games and tied for 10th all-time in school history with 73 double-digit scoring outings in his career.
Freshman guard Koby McEwen scored all 17 of his points in the second half and almost single-handedly rallied the Aggies (6-6, 0-1 Mountain West) to victory. Utah State trailed 71-63 with 1:13 to go, but McEwen scored 11 of the home team's final 17 points, pulling the Aggies to within 82-80 with three seconds remaining following an old-fashioned three-point play.
Utah State then fouled Boise State's Justinian Jessup with two seconds left. The freshman made the first free throw, but missed the second. However, the Aggies couldn't corral the rebound and the Broncos (8-4, 1-0) held on.
While Utah State outrebounded Boise State 41-40, the Broncos grabbed three key offensive rebounds off of missed free throws over the final 2:15 of the game.
Boise State's Chandler Hutchison led all scorers with 21 points, while Nick Duncan and Jessop chipped in 18 and 16 points apiece, respectively. James Reid added 10 points off the bench for the Broncos, who have won four straight in the series, including three in a row at the Spectrum.
The Aggies also had four players score in double figures as senior guard Shane Rector had 15 points and redshirt sophomore forward Alexis Dargenton nearly had a double-double with 11 points and a career-high-tying nine rebounds. Sophomore forward Quinn Taylor grabbed nine rebounds, as well.
Utah State opened its largest lead of the night at 17-12 with 11:47 remaining in the first half after freshman guard Sam Merrill knocked down a pair of free throws. Merrill made it 22-19 for the Aggies with a 3-pointer from the left wing, but the Broncos countered with a 14-2 spurt to open a 33-24 advantage with 4:22 left until halftime.
Boise State led 39-33 at the break.
Down 58-55 with 6:44 remaining in the game, the Aggies went on a 6-0 run as Dargenton scored on a putback, and McEwen and Moore both nailed a pair of free throws.
The lead was short-lived, though. Boise State used a 13-2 spurt, highlighted by seven points from Reid, to open its 71-63 lead. The Broncos never trailed again.
Utah State shot just 39.3 percent on the night (24-of-61), including 33.3 percent from 3-point range (6-of-18). The Aggies were stellar at the charity stripe, knocking down 26 of their 27 attempts (96.3 percent), which ranks No. 7 all-time in school history.
Defensively, Utah State limited Boise State to 41.0 percent shooting (25-of-61), including 39.1 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-23). The Broncos were 24-of-36 (66.7 percent) from the free throw line.
Utah State will play its first conference game on the road when it takes on Air Force on Saturday, Dec. 31, at Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. The New Year's Eve contest between the Aggies and Falcons tips off at 12 p.m. and will be televised live on ROOT Sports.
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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