USU tops 'other Aggies' in Spectrum thriller
A little less than a month after taking a beating in Las Cruces, the Utah State basketball team never trailed this time around against New Mexico State. Led by 24 points from junior Jarred Shaw, the blue-clad Aggies held on for a 73-69 win Saturday to snap a three-game losing streak against the maroon Aggies.
“It’s really a good win for us,” head coach Stew Morrill said. “Our guys battled hard and I thought deserved to win. We really competed. … It’s nice to see them rewarded for playing that hard. We’ve played that hard a couple times and lost close ones. It’s nice to win a fairly close one.”
USU raced to an early lead behind the mid-range play of Shaw.
The 6-foot-10 Dallas native scored six of Utah State’s first nine points en route to an early 19-5 lead. With 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar down low for New Mexico State, Shaw took to the midrange to give the Aggies an early lift.
“I worked a lot on that this week because I knew I had a big guy,” Shaw said. “I’m just happy and blessed to make those shots.”
NMSU stormed back with an 11-0 run to cut the deficit utilizing second chances to score 17 points on 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, but USU never quit.
Sophomore center Jordan Stone gave the Aggies a much needed lift to stop the bleeding with four straight points and Utah State stretched its lead back to six before taking a 40-37 edge into the locker room on a 3-pointer from Marcel Davis right before the break.
Utah State pushed its lead to as many as 11 in the second half, helped by the stellar play of Shaw inside.
“We outrebounded them which is quite an accomplishment with their size and athleticism,” Morrill said. “I feel pretty good about it. (Jarred) played so much smarter. … He was just really smart on his shot selection. Jarred had a great game right when we need it so it was a good deal.”
Up nine with two minutes to go, USU struggled against the NMSU full-court press. The blue clad Aggies committed three of their 11 turnovers in the final two minutes to make it interesting before time ran out on New Mexico State.
Utah State improved to 18-6 overall and 9-5 in WAC play after shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from the free throw line.
In what could be the final meeting between the two teams, Utah State improved to 36-30 all-time against New Mexico State, including a 23-8 record in Logan.
“It’s nice to get them back for the loss they put on us and taking down a couple of our guys,” Butterfield said. “We’re just as aggressive, I mean we don’t back down from a challenge. We’re a better team.”
USU travels to Provo Tuesday, Feb. 19 for an in-state showdown with BYU. The Aggies and Cougars were originally scheduled to play Dec. 5, but the collapse of Danny Berger the day before resulted in postponement.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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