LARAMIE, Wyo. – If the last three games are any indication, Utah State’s men’s basketball team is getting hot at the right time.
Senior guard Sam Merrill scored 14 points and junior forward Alphonso Anderson added 13 points off the bench as the Aggies cruised to their third straight victory, 68-45 over Wyoming on Tuesday night at the Arena-Auditorium.
Sophomore guard Brock Miller finished with 11 points for Utah State (17-6, 6-4 Mountain West), which has won its last three games by an average of 21.3 points. The Aggies have held two of those opponents – Air Force and Wyoming – to 47 points or less.
Hunter Maldonado and Kwane Marble scored 14 points apiece for the Cowboys (5-17, 0-10 MW), who dropped their eighth straight game. Utah State held Jake Hendricks, a product of Sky View High School, to zero points on 0-for-7 shooting from the field – all from 3-point range.
The Aggies clamped down on the defensive end of the court as they held the Cowboys to an icy 30.0 percent shooting night from the field (15-of-50), including just 23.3 percent from beyond the arc (7-of-30). Wyoming did knock down eight of its nine free throw attempts, however.
Utah State nearly doubled Wyoming on the glass as it outrebounded the Cowboys 41-23. Sophomore center Neemias Queta (12 boards) and sophomore forward Justin Bean (10) combined for 22 rebounds, just one shy of the entire Wyoming team.
The Aggies shot 47.1 percent from the field (24-of-51), including 30.4 percent from long range (7-of-23). USU went to the charity stripe 14 times and made 13 of them for a 92.9-percent clip.
Queta, who finished with eight points, opened the game’s scoring with a dunk just 12 seconds into the contest. Four seconds later, the Cowboys took their one and only lead of the night when Maldonado hit a 3-pointer.
Miller gave the Aggies the lead back for good at the 18:12 mark when he knocked down a jumper to make it 4-3.
Wyoming kept it close for the majority of the first half, but Utah State finally created separation when it used a 12-4 run to turn just a one-point lead into a 25-16 advantage at the break. It marked the fewest points the Aggies had scored in a half this season.
The Aggies led by as many as 29 in the second half.
Utah State now turns its attention to No. 4 San Diego State (21-0, 10-0 MW), the last unbeaten team in college basketball. The Aggies and Aztecs will square off for the second time this season on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m. (MT), at Viejas Arena in San Diego, Calif. The game will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network.