LOGAN – Koby McEwen’s career-high 32 points weren’t enough for Utah State to take down the No. 23 Nevada Wolf Pack at home Saturday afternoon. The Aggies lost 93-87 after being unable to recover from a 22-3 first-half Nevada run.
Nevada (23-5, 12-2) stayed at first place in conference, while USU (14-14, 7-8) lost its second-straight.
Despite the loss, head coach Tim Duryea wasn’t disappointed in his team. He said his players performed well, but that Nevada was tremendous, adding that he believes there are few teams in the country that could beat Nevada the way the Wolf Pack played.
“That’s as hard a team to defend as I’ve seen come through here in a long time,” he said. “I thought our guys, effort-wise, were good on the defensive end. I though we did a lot of really good things but they made tough shot after tough shot after tough shot.”
Cody Martin led Nevada with 30 points while his twin brother added another 23. Jordan Caroline scored 20.
“Three players that are responsible for 70-plus points, that’s tough,” McEwen said. “You’ve got guys shooting fadeaway mid-range shots and making them. That’s what they do. They play with a lot of confidence and swagger.”
In addition to McEwen, Utah State had three others score in double figures. Sam Merrill scored 16, Quinn Taylor had 11 and DeAngelo Isby added another 10. USU had just five turnovers all game.
“We had two offensive fouls, one of them very questionable and five turnovers total,” Duryea said. “That tells you we were making a lot of really good plays.”
Duryea thought his team could have done better in some areas. USU was just 10-of-33 from 3-point range.
“We were putting pressure on the rim,” he said. “We were creating open threes and would have liked to knock a few more of those down.”
The game didn’t begin that way, though. McEwen and Merrill started with a combined 5-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc, helping USU build an eight-point lead.
“We came out really strong,” McEwen said. “We threw the first punch right away.”
The Aggies still led 37-30 with less than eight minutes left in the half when the shooting went cold. USU made just one of its remaining 13 shots though the half and trailed 52-40 at the break.
“We hit the dry spell there at the end of the first half offensively,” Duryea said. “We came back offensively in the second half.
USU trailed by as many as 14 in the second half, and was able to cut the deficit to six multiple times, but it was never enough. Trailing 10 with 1:19 remaining, McEwen was fouled from 3-point range and hit all three free throws to bring USU within seven. Then, after Nevada went scoreless from two trips to the free throw line, McEwen scored on a layup and made another free throw in back-to-back possessions. That cut the Wolf Pack lead to four, but it was as close as the Aggies would get.
USU will go on the road to play Air Force next Saturday.