Utah State vs Colorado State
17 February 2016
Logan, UT. The Utah State Men’s Basketball team took on the Colorado State Rams in a game that was filled with several questionable calls. The Aggies started the game hot. They were passing the ball well and hitting their shots, allowing them to jump out to a 24-14 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the first half. This was on the backs of senior guards Chris Smith and Darius Perkins, who combined for 21 first half points, including four of the team’s six 3-point baskets. One of Smith’s 3-pointers was part of a rare 4-point play.
The Colorado State Rams responded by outscoring the Aggies for the remainder of the first half 21-13 behind a barrage of seven 3-point shots. The Rams were led in the first half by guards Antwan Scott and John Gillon, who had 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The Rams outrebounded the Aggies 19-13. However, The Aggies shot a higher percentage at 48.3% and had more assists with 11, compared with the 44% and 3 assists of the Rams.
The second half began with a stretch of chaotic play with neither team running plays for the majority of the first five minutes of play. But with just over 12 minutes remaining, the Aggies stretched their lead to 50-45 off of a 3-pointer by Jalen Moore followed by a great put back layup by Elston Jones.
With 5:33, Smith made a stole the ball and completed a 3-point play to put the Aggies up 65-53. With a 3-point shot with just under 4 minutes remaining, Jalen Moore became the 37th Aggie to post 1000 career points. He also extended the Aggie lead to 68-55. The Aggies finished out the game playing conservative on offense and completed the season sweep over the Rams by a score of 72-59. The Aggies finished the game on a 29-14 run in the final 14 minutes. Said Coach Duryea of that run, “I thought our shot selection got better. And I thought we got to the rim… We got a couple key offensive rebounds… and got a couple easy (put backs), and the last couple games that has helped us out.”
The Aggies’ leading scorers were Smith and Moore, who finished with 19 and 16, respectively. The lockdown defense in the second half held the Rams’ explosive offense to just 24 points in the second half on just 25% shooting. The Rams were also held to 1-16 from the 3-point line in the second half. Meanwhile, the Aggies repeated their shooting percentage from the field with 48% once again in the second half. Colorado State’s 59 points marked its second fewest points scored this year. This performance is all the more impressive because CSU averages 81 points per game, which is first in the Mountain West. The 13-point loss is also the largest margin of defeat this season for the Rams. Utah State’s 5 turnovers are tied for their lowest number of the season and mark a staggering improvement from recent games where the Aggies have had turnover totals in the high teens.
Both Lew Evans, who tied his season high with 32 minutes played, and Jalen Moore spoke of the difference in defense in the two halves. They both called their first half defense “soft” and spoke of how their physicality in the second half allowed them to overpower the Rams. Said Coach Duryea, “I think we had more of a physical presence… we have an overall tougher mentality about us…” The Aggies might be peaking at the right time and will look to maintain their newfound physicality as they finish out their season and in the Mountain West Tournament.
The Aggies are back in action Saturday at 5:00 pm at Fresno State.