Aggies pick up first conference win at home over New Mexico (with photo gallery)

LOGAN – Snowy conditions kept most fans away from the Spectrum, but that didn’t hold back the Aggie basketball team.

Jalen Moore scored 20 and Koby McEwen added another 18 in Utah State’s 79-75 win over New Mexico Wednesday night. It was the first conference win in three tries.

Freshman guard Sam Merrill, who had 13 points and led the team with eight assists in his first start, said he felt USU gave away two wins last week, and that it felt good to get a win.

“I’m glad that this week we had a sense of urgency in our practices,” he said. “Hopefully it showed out on the court.”

New Mexico attacked USU’s defense by getting the ball inside and scored 48 of its 75 points in the paint. Most were from Tim Williams. The senior forward scored on 13-of-18 attempts for 30 points, but 20 of those were in the first half.

“He killed us in the first half,” Moore said. “We kind of held him in check in the second half.”

Despite Williams’ big start, USU kept the game close by hitting seven 3-pointers before the half. The Aggies trailed 38-37 at the break.

“One of our goals is to shoot open 3s and make them,” Moore said. “We did that well tonight.”

New Mexico led until Moore’s free throw put USU on top with 15:23 on the clock. After a couple more lead changes it was the two freshmen guards that helped the team take the lead for good. Merrill caught the ball at the top of the key but quickly dished it to McEwen for a 3-pointer from the right side. Duryea said the two have had great synergy since the day they got to USU.

“They enjoy playing together,” he said. “It’s two young kids with high basketball IQs.”

USU outrebounded the Lobos 31 to 29. Alex Dargenton and Moore had seven rebounds each.

“That was one of two keys to the game,” Duryea said. “We held our own on the boards and we stayed away from most of the foolish fouls.”

USU is now 7-7 overall and 1-2 in conference. The Aggies will stay at home and play a 4 p.m. game against UNLV Saturday.

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