Aggies pull away from Spartans

After a tightly contested first half, the Utah State Aggies separated themselves from San Jose State to win by a score of 77-58 in front of a sold-out crowd at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.”It was a really good second half for us. We played awfully good basketball in the second half,” Aggie head coach Stew Morrill said after the game.”In the first half, it felt like we were a little bit flat,” said sophmore forward Brady Jardine. “We came out with some more energy (in the second half). We focused, and enjoyed playing, and we were able to do the things that we needed to do.”After going into halftime with a meager 39-36 lead, USU came out of the break and brought the Spartan offense to a screeching halt. The Aggies were able to hold San Jose State to a 21% field goal percentage in the final 20 minutes, meanwhile shooting 60% themselves. Utah State put together a 9-2 run directly following the intermission, and never looked back.Once again, USU received balanced scoring from both the starters and the bench. Big man Nate Bendall had a double-double, with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow starter Pooh Williams also played well, scoring 14 points on 5-8 shooting to go along with four assists, three rebounds, a block, and a steal. Brady Jardine provided a spark off of the bench for the Aggies, contributing 17 points and five rebounds, including a high flying dunk off of a steal in the final minutes of the game.”I’m just playing. I’m just loving it,” Jardine said. “I gotta give credit to my teammates. They’re making passes, they’re getting me the ball in easy to score places… It’s all my teammates. I owe it all to them.””We had a lot of guys play well tonight,” said Morrill. “It’s great to see Bendall bounce back and have a double-double… I thought Pooh was awfully good, and Brady, obviously, was strong.”Utah State was able to hold the Spartans leading scorer below his season average. Adrian Oliver came into the game averaging 22.5 points per contest, which put him at first in the WAC and seventh in the nation. The Aggies were able to lower his impressive average, as Oliver ended the game with 19 points on 5-16 shooting.”We worked hard on him (Oliver),” Morrill said. “We had guys aware of him, trying to help. He’s five for sixteen, so you will take that.”Following the game, Coach Morrill was honored during a short ceremony. Morrill, who is in his 12th season at USU, picked up his 500th career victory at Idaho a week ago. After giving a short speech to the fans, he accepted a plaque commemerating his achievement. During the speech, Morrill thanked the Aggie faithful, and said that coming to Utah State was “one of the best decisions I have made.”The USU victory, along with New Mexico State’s 91-77 road victory against Louisiana Tech, put the Aggies in a three-way tie with the aforementioned teams for first place in the WAC. Both teams have trips to the Spectrum remaining on their schedule.Utah State will now prepare for a homestand in the coming week. Idaho will visit on Wednesday at 9 PM, and Nevada will be in Logan next Saturday for an 8 PM showdown. Both games will be broadcast by ESPN.

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