Craig Smith era begins with two games of 100-plus points

LOGAN – The Utah State football team has proven to be a top offense in the country this season, averaging 50.1 points per game. The women’s basketball showed off its scoring ability Friday afternoon, dropping 106 points in its game Friday afternoon.

It turns out the men’s basketball team can score, too.

The Aggie men have been able to reach the 100-point mark in the first two games of the Craig Smith era, following up a 101-71 win over Montana State Tuesday with a 100-73 victory at home Friday night against Hartford.

These 100-point games are rare. Before this season, USU last scored more than 100 in March 2012. The most recent time it happened in back-to-back games was during the 1994-95 season. The last time the the feat was accomplished while winning both games was during the 1979-80 season.

Coach Smith smiled and slightly shook his head when asked about the feat. He said there were several things that contributed to the high scoring, but credited his players with buying in to a quicker pace of play as being a big part of it.

“It was a root canal for a while to get them to run hard and (to take) a good shot in transition,” he said. “The other thing I’ve thought we’ve done well is just pushing hard and flowing into our stuff. It’s crazy how far we’ve come.”

Sam Merrill was the leading scorer in the first game of the season, scoring 37 points on 18 shots, while Dwayne Brown Jr. led in scoring Friday night, with 24 points on 12 shots.

“That is just incredible efficiency,” Smith added.

Merrill, USU’s leading returning scorer, took just seven field goal attempts Friday night but was still able to score 14 points. Freshman Tauriawn Knight added 14 and senior Quinn Taylor scored 12.

“That’s the beauty of our team,” Merrill said. “We have enough ways to find points even if I don’t get shots up or if I’m missing shots. Coach does a great job of setting up plays where I can be a screener.”

Even with USU’s impressive performances, Smith cautioned there is still a lot of work to do. He stressed that his team is very young, but added that they are playing unselfishly.”

“Now again,” he said. “We’ve got a long, long way to go, but I love the pace that we are playing in and how hard we’re playing.”

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