Utah State fought through the pressure of having to play the opening game of the WAC Men’s Basketball Tournament and the full court pressure often applied by the eighth-seeded Boise State Broncos, pulling away in the second half for an 84-60 victory. The Aggies were lead by an aggressive Pooh Williams, Brian Green and Tai Wesley, each with 18 points a piece.The outputs were career highs for Williams and Green who seemed to feed off the energy associated with playing in a conference tournament. The Aggies also got a big contribution on the boards from Jared Quayle with 13 boards to go along with his 13 points. Wesley also pulled down 10 boards.Boise frustrated the Aggies throughout much of the first half with a full court press. “They did something unusual,” Stew said following the game. “They would trap in the back court then re-establish their press in the front court.”Boise’s pressure caused turnovers for the Aggies, keeping the game close. At the half, the Aggies lead was only 35-30 after a buzzer-beating three point shot by Boise’s Paul Noonan. With Boise’s first possession out of the break, Anthony Thomas drained another three pointer, closing the lead to 35-33. But Williams came out playing much more aggressive in the second half and USU made the necessary adjustments to break Boise’s press.”I thought in the second half we solved their press better,” Morrill said. “We made an adjustment to let us handle it better. I think they wore down a little, too. Plus we were making our shots. It helps when you make shots.”Morrill explained that utilizing Wesley was the key to breaking their press in the second half. He said that Tai is a good ball handler for a big man and that seemed to make the difference in the second half. Morrill was also particularly impressed with his veteran leaders, Wesley and Quayle, who both had double-doubles. “Quayle gets 13 boards; he was just everywhere on the boards. You know both those guys are all-league players and they looked like it today. I told Tai I was going to kill him if he fouled out. But he is a great pressure release for us.”Brian Green came out shooting early and often for USU, shooting 4-6 from three. “My role is to come out, bring energy and hit some threes,” Green said after the game. “The team was unselfish and really opened up some opportunities for me.” Green also explained a habit of his after hitting big shots. He slaps his elbows as he’s running back to the other end. “Those are my guns,” Green said to a roar of laughter in the press room. “I just reload the clips.” Morrill told him his wife has noticed it, too, and was asking him about it just the other day.Williams had a mediocre first half but came out much more aggressive in the second, setting the tone for the rest of the team offensively and defensively. “I felt like I was settling a lot. At the half the coaches told me to drive more and get in the lane.”Both Williams and Morrill heaped praise on Green for his play and his vocal attitude on the court. “He can shoot it,” Morrill said. “He got some open looks in transition. He goes at full speed and always has a ton of energy.””He gets us talking,” Williams said. “He gets us going. Brian talks a lot and we’re a quiet team so he comes into the game with energy and gets us going.”When Boise tried to keep the game close early in the second half, they cut the lead down to four at 48-44 behind a three point shot from Robert Arnold with 13:18 left to play. The Aggies went right back to Tai Wesley in the post which led to a 10-0 run.”We just kept playing and didn’t panic,” Morrill said of that point in the game. “We got a little run going ourselves.”There has been some speculation in Boise that Boise St. coach Greg Graham might not return as their head coach next season after a less-than-expected season and as he is in the final years of his contract. The question was asked of Stew Morrill if he believed Graham deserved to stay on as the Bronco’s head coach. “Graham deserves a lot more years. Was he not the coach of the year just a few years ago? Didn’t his team win the league just a few years ago?”Morrill also had some words to say about the passing of Aggie great Merlin Olsen. “I hope, as an Aggie, he was smiling as we progressed in the tournament today,” Morrill said.”He had such class, in his playing career, his broadcast career, his acting career. He’s what a quality guy should be about.”The Aggies now turn their attention to Louisiana Tech as they defeated Fresno State 74-68. “La Tech has had a really good year and Fresno is capable of beating anybody,” Morrill said. The Aggies play Friday night at 7 p.m. MST.
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