"Nervous" Aggies lose sloppy season opener

OGDEN – It wasn’t the start to the basketball season the Aggies had hoped for.

Utah State shot just 37 percent in the 65-59 season opening loss to Weber State Friday night. Head coach Tim Duryea said he was surprised by his team’s lack of offense, saying he didn’t think it was possible for them to play that poorly. He described his team as nervous and uptight offensively.

“Really in all areas,” he said. “Our shot selection, our ball handling, our decision making.”

Utah State never led in the game while allowing Weber State’s Ryan Richardson to score 20 points, Zach Braxton to score 18 and Ute transfer Brekkott Chapman to score 10.

USU had 11 turnovers and five assists total.

“That’s not us,” Duryea said. “Our ball has got to move a lot quicker.”

The offensive problems started early, and led to the early 12-2 deficit. It wasn’t until more than six minutes into the game that USU picked up its second basket on a Sam Merrill 3-pointer.

“I can’t explain what it was,” said Aggie forward Alex Dargenton, who scored a team-high 12 points. “It was just a poor shooting night for us.”

The Aggies slowly trimmed the lead through the first half, but it didn’t help that starting point guard Koby McEwen was benched after picking up two early fouls. He returned to the game later in the half and quickly cut the Wildcat lead to 16-14 with a corner three, but picked up his third foul and sat for the final 6:39 of the half.

McEwen and Merrill combined for just 14 points, shooting 5-for-19 from the floor.

“He was in and out of the flow all night,” Duryea said of McEwen. “Sam Merrill wasn’t Sam, the looks he usually makes. Those two are our guys. Our leaders.”

Duryea has repeatedly mentioned that he wants this year’s team to shoot between 25 and 30 threes per game. The Aggies had just 15 attempts Friday night, and made just four.

“Fifteen is not enough,” Duryea said. “Obviously the percentage was bad, but our percentage was bad because our selection was not good.”

USU never led, but tied the game twice near the end of the first half. The Aggies trailed the entire second half, but never by more than 10.

“We had some good stretches to get the lead back down to six to four,” Duryea said. “Then we’d make another bad offensive play that would really cost us.”

USU will have a quick turnaround before playing its first home game Monday night against Montana State.

“That’s a good thing,” Duryea said. “We’ve got to flush this out and we’ve got our hands full Monday night with a team that can really score.”

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