LOGAN – A lopsided first half helped the Aggie basketball team beat San Jose State 61-33 Wednesday night in the conference opener. The victory improved USU’s record to 1-0 in conference and 8-5 overall.
As far as conference games go, this game may be as easy as they come for USU. The 2-10 Spartan team came to Logan with only seven eligible players after five others, including the team’s leading scorer Rashad Muhammad, were suspended earlier in December.
“I feel bad for them, the situation they’re in with all their suspended players,” USU head coach Stew Morrill said. “But we started with a win in conference and we’ll take it.”
The first half was filled with 3-point field goals for the Aggies, who made 9 of 15 from beyond the arc before the break. Chris Smith started the game with a quick 3-pointer just seconds in, but the Spartans scored the next eight points. Jalen Moore put a stop to the SJSU scoring drive with a field goal. Minutes later, Smith hit his second 3-point shot to tie the game at 8.
SJSU retook the lead soon after, but that was as good as it would get for the Spartans. A 27-2 USU run started with 10:57 left in the half when Darius Perkins was fouled on a 3-point shot and converted it into a 4-point play.
“Once Darius hit that they had to go to man,” sophomore Jalen Moore said. “They had to switch between zone and we were able to execute against either one.”
The run included back to back 3-pointers by Jojo McGlaston and three-straight 3s for Moore. The Aggies were able to hold the Spartans scoreless the last 7:41 minutes of the half and go into the break with a 35-12 lead.
“We just had the momentum going into the half,” Moore said. “We made a lot of 3s.”
More than half of USU’s points during the game came from behind the arc. The Aggies finished the game 11-22 from 3-point range.
“That’s way good for us,” Moore said. “The outside shot was killing them a little but.”
The Spartans finally started scoring again in the second half, but were still outscored by the Aggies. Moore led the Aggies with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Smith added 14 points and Julion Pearre had 8.
“It’s always good to be 1-0,” Pearre said. “We came out here and fought hard and did what we had to do. Now we got to get ready for Boise.”
The Boise State game will take place Saturday in Boise. The Broncos are 10-4 after losing Wednesday night to undefeated Colorado State 71-65. Morrill said his team needs to be more in sync than they were Wednesday night.
“We’ve got to execute a lot better to have a chance at Boise,” he said. “We’ve got to execute better than that.”