SALT LAKE CITY – Utah State head basketball coach Tim Duryea said he doesn’t have a tough basketball team right now. He said it is time for that to change.
The Aggies were badly outrebounded in the 77-63 defeat to BYU in the Vivint Arena Wednesday night. The loss was USU’s third straight and put the team at 3-3 on the year.
Duryea called it a “totally embarrassing performance.”
“Physically, we got out-toughed,” he said. “The defensive numbers being where they are and the rebounding numbers where they are, we totally got out-toughed.”
Those rebounding numbers had BYU with 55 total boards and USU with 31. The offensive rebounds were even more one-sided; USU had just eight to BYU’s 23.
“We subbed, we tried different combinations, we went big, we went small,” Duryea said of his efforts to fix the rebounding issue. “That’s really all we talked about all night long.”
BYU’s offensive rebounds led to second-chance points – 20 of them. Another glaring statistic was the difference at the free throw line. The Cougars were 23-of-27 from the charity stripe; USU made six shots on 11 tries.
“We’ve got to get to the line more,” Duryea said. “Again, that’s a sign of toughness.”
Jalen Moore led USU with 15 points while Norbert Janicek added 12, but no Aggie could match BYU’s Eric Mika. The 6-foot-10 sophomore tallied 20 points and seven rebounds.
Utah State started the game with a field goal by Moore and a Shane Rector 3-pointer, but an 8-0 BYU run soon put the Cougars on top. BYU’s lead fluctuated from three points to 12 throughout the first half, but the Aggies never completely recovered.
USU was able to cut the deficit to less than five points five times in the second half, but each time BYU was able to build another big lead. The Cougars finished the game on a 9-2 run.
“Every time we went on a run, our defense let us down,” Duryea said. “We’re climbing the hill and getting back closer, then we have an ill-advised foul or we give them two or three or four shots in one possession.”
The Aggies will return home to take on Indiana State Saturday night.