LOGAN – After a back-and-forth battle in the first half, a second-half collapse doomed the Utah State basketball team. The 76-61 loss to Boise State was the team’s second-straight loss, both came in the Spectrum.
“We obviously didn’t do a good job taking care of the home court,” head coach Tim Duryea said. “Obviously (we played) two of the better teams in the league, but still, you have to handle your home court in this league and we are down two in that respect.”
The Aggies are now 1-2 in conference and 9-5 overall. It was the second game in a row the team kept it close in the first half and struggled to start the second well. It didn’t help that the Broncos’ field goal percentage went from 47.8 to more than 70 percent from half to half. Duryea said playing poor defense and letting the opponent shoot such a high percentage makes keeping up impossible.
“Defensively that was about as unsolid and as poor of a performance as you could possibly have,” he said. “Every area, from every position, and really you give yourself no chance to win when an opponent shoots 60 percent on your own floor.”
Junior forward Jalen Moore led USU with 18 points and was the only Aggie to score in double figures. It was he and Chris Smith who helped keep pace with the Broncos through the first 20 minutes by scoring 19 of USU’s 29 first-half points and accounting for 7 of the team’s 17 rebounds. Before the break, the biggest lead for either team was a 6-point advantage that belonged to the Aggies. USU had its chances to score more, but were unable to take better advantage of 12 first-half Bronco turnovers.
“We did not convert enough of those into points,” Duryea said. “And then we end up with some silly turnovers so the turnover battle ends up even for the game.”
Lew Evans hit a 3-point shot to start the second half to go up 32-31, but that was the last time USU had a lead. The Broncos followed Evans’ shot with an 8-0 run that contributed to a 42-34 advantage, but 3-pointers by Grayson Moore and Julion Pearre helped bring it back to a single point. Boise State then outscored the Aggies 18-5 over the next 6:57. It put the Aggies in a hole they were unable to recover from.
“We’ve got to find a way to come out the first four minutes (of the second half) and jump on teams,” Grayson Moore said. “It’s not like either team (San Diego State or Boise State) has taken us out of what we do, we just got find a way to execute on offense, get stops, then finish it with a rebound.”
USU will now go on the road to face New Mexico Saturday before returning to the Spectrum January 12 to host Air Force.