Game Recap: Utah State 72, Wyoming 59
Bean still hot handed in Thursday’s matchup at home.
The Utah State frontcourt duo leads the way again in last home game of the season.
LOGAN, UT–The Utah State Aggies played host to this year’s young gun Wyoming Cowboys in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Thursday night. The Aggies struggled early in this one but was able to recognize the issue, adapt and move on. Because of that they were able to extend their winning streak to three on Thursday led by their big men once again.
The Aggies started off cold in the first-half, at one point down 19-12 because of ten missed three-point attempts out of the gate. Everyone was hoping to help fill the shoes of injured junior guard Brock Miller. Who was unavailable to help provide his services from the beyond the arc (2.1 made threes a game, 39.2%).
Though shots just weren’t falling, as junior forward Justin Bean went 0-3 (from deep) to open things up. With the last straw for head coach Craig Smith maybe coming as freshman guard Max Shulga would miss four consecutive long range heaves in less than two minutes.
Once Utah State realized that long range jumpers just weren’t falling and the Cowboys continued to grow their lead, they adjusted. Instead getting the ball to Bean who would score the next five Aggie points to get things going.
He would be joined by freshman guard Steven Ashworth. Who knocked down the first Utah State three-point field goal of the game around the eight minute mark, followed by a mid-range jumper to tie things up at 22-a-piece.
An 11-8 Utah State run to close the half put them them up 38-35. As they returned to the court for the second-half, a scrappy Wyoming squad wasn’t going away easily. As they were able to stay in this one, only down 50-45 with 11:42 left to go in the game. Fittingly enough, it was another Utah State run that helped put this one way. As the coach Smith’s squad went on a 14-5 run to help relieve the pressure, which was just enough to seal the deal.
“It starts on the defense end,” head coach Jeff Linder said. “In the first half we forced Utah State into misses and baited them into shots we wanted. But in the second half it boiled down to open looks that we didn’t make. We had to make plays and just can’t give away that many empty possessions. It is a 40 minute games and you can see the discipline and effort from a veteran team and a young team.”
Junior forward Neemias Queta logged his fifth-consecutive double-double, with 14 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal & a terrorizing 5 blocks on the night.
Also as a team, Utah State took care of the ball and created opportunities. With seven different players logging at least two assists or better for a grand total of 20 dimes to just 9 turnovers.
Wyoming looked like they had all the intention to walk out of the Spectrum on Thursday with the upset. Coach Jeff Linder’s group found success from deep going 3-5 to open the game. But followed that up, by going 5-12 in an attempt to keep up with the Aggies inside scoring.
The Cowboys didn’t fare much better in the second-half, going 1-14 from deep in the final twenty, and as a team scoring just 24-points. Part of the problem may have stemmed from the defensive focus given to Wyoming’s leading scorer, freshman guard Marcus Williams all night.
Williams finished with just 4 points (2-8 shooting), 2 assists and 4 turnovers on the night. Mostly in part due to his counterpart Marco Anthony, who is the Aggies third leading scorer but finished with just 2-points of his own. Mostly worried about the high scoring freshmen on the other side of the ball.
Boise State: Justin Bean, stat line: 21 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists & 2 steals in 31 minutes.
For the third straight game, Justin Bean posted a double-double. As his ill-advised but well-intended 0-3 start to the game from deep was followed by a 10-17 symphony in the paint. His stat line above all done in just 31 minutes of play with a non-stop motor that allows him to make the most of his time on the floor.
— USU Men's Hoops (@USUBasketball) March 5, 2021
Wyoming: Hunter Maldonado, stat line: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists & 2 steals
Maldonado played amicably, and his 14-points on 6-10 shooting from the field really helped keep his squad in the game. As the rest of his team combined to shoot, 15-46 from the field (32.6%).
Though his 3 assists came at a price, as he also logged 5 turnovers in a bad night for Cowboy ball security. He still fought hard throughout, especially with this drive to the basket against maybe the most feared interior defender in the Mountain West.
— Wyoming Cowboy Basketball (@wyo_mbb) March 5, 2021
Mountain West Standings After the series:
1) San Diego State 20-4 (14-3)
2) Colorado State 17-4 (14-3)
3) Utah State 17-7 (14-2)
4) Boise State 18-7 (14-6)
5) Nevada 14-9 (9-7)
6) Fresno State 11-10 (9-10)
7) UNLV 11-13 (8-9)
8) Wyoming 12-10 (6-9)
9) San Jose State 5-15 (3-13)
10) Air Force 5-19 (3-17)
11) New Mexico 6-15 (2-15)
The Aggies head to Fresno for the final game of the season on Saturday against the Bulldogs. Tipoff is set for 8:00 PM PT/9:00 PM MT as the Bulldogs hope to pull out just one more win over over another top-five conference foe.
The Cowboys head home to welcome the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels for their final game of the regular season on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 8:00 PM PT/9:00 PM MT. Both programs in the middle of the conference standings heading into the weekend. One last win before heading to Las Vegas would be much appreciated on either bench Saturday night.
Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.