Utah State loses to Arizona State in championship game of MGM Main Event, 87-82

Arizona State 's Romello White, right, blocks a shot by Utah State's John Knight III during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Utah State junior guard Sam Merrill scored 27 points, pacing four Aggies in double figures, but it wasn’t enough in an 87-82 loss to Arizona State in the championship game of the MGM Main Event on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Utah State’s Quinn Taylor (10) shoots over Arizona State’s Remy Martin during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Lugentz Dort poured in a game-high 33 points to help the Sun Devils (5-0) hold off the Aggies (5-1) for the Heavyweight Bracket title.

Utah State sophomore guard John Knight III finished with 13 points and gave Utah State a 47-44 lead with 15:53 remaining in the game when he scored on a layup. However, Arizona State moved back in front for good on a 3-pointer by Taeshon Cherry less than a minute later.

The Sun Devils, who shot 26-of-52 from the field (50.0 percent), including 7-of-14 from beyond the arc (7-of-14), grew their lead to as many as nine down the stretch.

Utah State’s John Knight III (3) is fouled while shooting against Arizona State’s Mickey Mitchell, left, and Remy Martin during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Joining Merrill and Knight III in double-figure scoring for Utah State was senior forward Dwayne Brown Jr. (14) and redshirt freshman guard Brock Miller (10). The Aggies shot 25-for-56 from the field (44.6 percent), including 7-of-23 from 3-point range (30.4 percent), and 25-of-33 from the free throw line (75.8 percent).

For the sixth time this season, though, Utah State outrebounded its opponent as the Aggies grabbed five more boards (34-29) than the Sun Devils, led by freshman center Neemias Queta’s career-high-tying nine.

The Aggies scored the first six points of the game on back-to-back 3-pointers by sophomore guard Crew Ainge and Miller. Utah State opened up its largest lead of the game when Merrill drained his first 3-pointer of the night to make it 16-9 with 14:03 left in the first half.

Arizona State’s Remy Martin falls to the ground while driving against Utah State’s Tauriawn Knight during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Consecutive baskets by Brown within a 54-second span gave the Aggies their final lead of the half, 28-26, before Dort took over and scored the next six points for the Sun Devils, who led 37-35 at intermission.

Utah State will return home on Wednesday, Nov. 28, when the Aggies welcome Northern Iowa to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, at 7 p.m. The game is part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.

Fans can purchase season tickets, or on a game-by-game basis. Fans can purchase tickets at the Utah State ticket office, located on the first floor of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Tickets are also available online at utahstateaggies.com/tickets, or by calling the ticket office at (435) 797-0305 or (888)-USTATE-1.

Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumensbasketball), on Twitter (@usubasketball) and on Instagram (@usubasketball). Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).

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