The Utah State Aggies finished off their stretch of in-state match-ups on the right note Wednesday night in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, as they beat the University of Utah by a score of 79-62.The Aggies lead the entire game, and gave the Utes their first loss of the season. The win was an emotional one for both the Aggie players and fans, amidst talk that the second oldest rivalry in school history could soon be coming to an end. USU and Utah have met 232 times since the series began in 1908, but Utah has yet to work out a date for next year’s match-up. Regardless of future uncertainties, the Aggies came into Wednesday’s game looking to continue their home-dominance of the Utes. They were able to do so, and much to the delight of the 8,368 fans in attendance. The possibility of this being the last game between the two rivals was definitely used as motivation.”We were just excited for the game,” Aggie forward Brady Jardine said following the win. “There’s been all this talk about them not coming back here for awhile, and we love playing in-state teams… We wanted to come out and play hard if it’s not going to happen for awhile. We wanted to make sure we went out on the right note.”USU was able to defeat the Utes behind the stellar play of Jardine, along with his teammate Tai Wesley. Jardine had a monster game, as he put up career-high numbers in both points scored and rebounds. The energetic junior scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 31 minutes of playing time. Wesley was also a huge part of the Aggie victory. The senior team-leader scored 21 points and eight rebounds. Wesley was able to stay on the court, as he was only whistled for one foul, thereby allowing him to play for 38 minutes without having to worry about his foul total. Wesley was also able to display his some rare offensive range; the post player went an uncharacteristic 2-2 from three point territory. USU head coach Stew Morrill was pleased with the play of his two post players.”Brady Jardine had about as good of a game as he has ever had as an Aggie, and that was good to see,” Morrill said. “He was active on the boards and confident. Tai (Wesley) is having good nights, and it was nice to keep him on the floor for a few more minutes tonight.”Jardine and Wesley’s dominance was especially impressive, considering their opponent’s length. The dynamic duo spent a good amount of time battling the Ute’s tall interior players. Utah has two big men that measure at least seven feet high, in Jason Washburn (7’0″) and David Foster (7’3″). Jardine and Wesley collectively out-rebounded their giant opponents, by a tally of 18 rebounds. Jardine was able to explain how this happened.”They’re seven-feet tall, but I think we worked a little bit harder,” he said. “We wanted it a little bit more, and we went to the boards. That’s something we have to do all year being undersized.”The game started off as a defensive struggle, as both teams shot under 40% from the field goal in the first half. USU went into the halftime break with a 35-26 lead, but they allowed the Utes to start the second half on a roll. Utah pulled themselves within one point of the Aggies, to make the score 37-36 with three minutes expired off of the clock in the second half. However, the Aggies started to pull away from the Utes, and never looked back. USU seemingly out-hustled the Utes, as the Aggies had 15 second-chance points and 14 points off turnovers. Utah head coach Jim Boylen attributed the Aggies’ success to these crucial statistics.”I thought that Utah State’s second-chance points were a big part of this game,” Boylen said. “I felt that overall our defense was good at times, but the second-chance points really hurt us tonight… That is the difference in the game.”Aggie forward Nate Bendall got on the court for the first time this season. The senior, who has been struggling with an injury to his foot, played for three minutes. He scored one point on 1-1 shooting. Bendall will expect to see more playing time down the road, as long as he is able to stay healthy. The Aggie coaching staff will look to slowly work Bendall back into the flow of the game, as he is able to get more playing time in practice.USU will now turn their attention towards Northeastern University, as Saturday night’s match-up will be a big test for the Aggies before they head into conference play. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 PM at the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum.
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