Mountain West Tournament
Utah State vs Wyoming
9 March 2016
Las Vegas, NV.
The Utah State Aggies men’s basketball team won game one of the Mountain West tournament. The Aggies switched up their starting lineup, going with Shane Rector instead of Darius Perkins. The move paid off as Rector scored a career high 24 in the game and helped lead the team to victory over the Wyoming Cowboys. Utah State opened up the game on fire, scoring 47 first half points.
Chris Smith opened up the scoring in the game with an early 3. He and Julion Pearre led the Aggies in the first half, scoring 13 and 12, respectively. The Aggies built a large lead, 25 at one point, off of great ball movement and solid defense. The Aggies were sharing the ball, racking up 13 assists in the first half, including 3 each for Pearre, Smith, and Jalen Moore. Rector added 2 more. The continued movement of the ball and making the extra pass led to several wide open looks. This allowed the Aggies to rain down 7 first half 3-pointers and shoot 57.6% from the field.
There was a moment of weakness in the last 6:30 of the first half as the Cowboys went on a 13-6 run to close the half. The Aggies also struggled at the beginning of the second half, allowing another run by the Cowboys. This time, it was a 17-8 run, including a 11-0 run, cutting the lead to 8 with 13:30 left in the in the game.
Jalen Moore then knocked down two key shots to end the five-minute drought. Said Coach Duryea of the shots, “I did see Jalen have a really… calm look in his eye… Two biggest shots of the game, I think.” From then on, it was a battle between the two teams as both were fighting hard for the momentum. The Aggies were able to keep the Cowboys at arms-length, despite the great offensive play by Wyoming and their strong fan support.
Utah State held off the Cowboys, knocking down 13 of 14 free-throws in the second half, extending the lead to 15. Smith knocked down a 3 for the last points of the game, making himself the bookend scorer and finalizing the 18-point victory, 88-70. 4 Aggies finished the game in double figures with Rector, Smith, Moore, and Pearre having 24, 20, 19, and 14, respectively. Moore also finished with 5 assists and 9 rebounds as he played all 40 minutes. Pearre and Smith both added 4 assists.
It was good to see the team hold onto a lead, which is something they have struggled with at times. Said Coach Duryea about the issue, “I really saw no signs of panic whatsoever. And they were chipping away. And we had talked about it, there’s going to be a run. You can almost count on it. And I was thrilled to see Jalen Moore step up and make those two shots when the game did get to eight. That is the one thing we’ve really been missing all year long in the league.”
This tough game will help prepare the Aggies for their game tomorrow against top ranked San Diego State. Of the game tomorrow, Coach Duryea said, “We’ve got to rebound the ball similar to what we did today…. You’ve got to rebound the ball, No. 1, and you’ve got to stay patient, yet really aggressive.” The game will start at 1 pm mountain time.