Another Hoops Loss to BYU Leaves Aggies Feeling Blue

Another Hoops Loss to BYU Leaves Aggies Feeling Blue

Utah State

Another Hoops Loss to BYU Leaves Aggies Feeling Blue


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The 82-71 defeat extends the Aggies’ series losing streak to 10

It’s okay, I’m sure this won’t come up when I see my BYU-fan brother at Christmas

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Utah State plays the same dumb game it plays every year, falls to No. 24 Cougars

Bad news for anyone (me) thinking Utah State was finally due for a road win against a ranked BYU team. Instead, the Cougars took advantage of multiple Aggie scoring droughts and foul line struggles en route to an 82-71 victory, shooting the ball as well as they had all season in a winning performance reminiscent of every other miserable game between these teams since 2011.

In fact, there will almost certainly be college freshmen on campus next year in Logan who have never known a Utah State victory over the Cougars in the Marriott Center. It’s been a while, is what I’m saying.

As You Can Imagine, The First Half Wasn’t Great

Observing a tied game near the first half’s 12-minute mark, the Cougars decided to go to work with some of their supporting cast. You have to credit Mark Pope’s squad for needing just about everybody to step up in the wake of Gavin Baxter’s absence and getting timely contributions from guys like junior guard Trevin Knell, who netted a season-high 13 points entirely in the first half on 5-of-6 shooting.

Knell stretching the Aggie defense and senior Alex Barcello finding buckets when it mattered led to a quick 12-0 Cougar run that easily redefined the game’s complexion. BYU’s smaller, more dynamic lineup played fast, forced Aggie turnovers and shot well enough over the first 20 minutes of play to enjoy a 45-33 advantage at the break.

The Second Half Was Better-ish(?)

Things looked bad for a few more minutes before Justin Bean injected some life into USU’s chances with an incredibly on-brand “Remember how crazy athletic I am?” dunk to bring the score within 10. Behind Bean, the Aggies managed to keep their opponents within shouting distance until the 8-minute mark.

That’s when 6’10” Aggie senior forward Brandon Horvath knocked down a pair of threes and another jumper to put some actual pressure on BYU for what felt like the first time since tipoff. Horvath’s personal 8-pt run over roughly 90 seconds of game clock made the score 62-69 with 6:24 left to play.

Instead of using that remaining time to make this game even more interesting, both the Aggies and Cougars spent the next three minutes missing free throws, missing threes, missing jumpers, turning the ball over, forcing turnovers but then also missing threes, and generally looking inept until Bean was finally whistled for a foul. BYU’s Fousseyni Traore broke the stalemate with a pair of made free throws.

Utah State played the last three minutes fairly competitively, but continued to miss key free throws while Barcello and Traore buried the Aggies at the line in what would become an 11-pt defeat.

Quick Notes Worth Noting

-Justin Bean was good tonight, but even USU’s frontman wasn’t immune to the real drag on this game for all Aggies — a miserable 9-of-20 combined foul shooting. It wouldn’t be fair to BYU to say USU gagged this game away, as the justifiably-ranked Cougars were in firm control the whole way. They’re a good team who played superior basketball in almost every phase. BUT, any time you lose by a margin your team could have accounted for at the foul line, you can’t help but think an opportunity has been missed.

-BYU shot 50% from the floor, including 11-of-24 from distance (or 45.8%, well above the Cougars’ 29.4% season average through eight games). Barcello led BYU’s balanced effort with 17, while Bean led all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

-BYU managed to out-rebound the Aggies 31-26, despite being philosophically uninterested in offensive boards the entire night. Not great, guys.

-Utah State is now 6-3 with four games to play before Mountain West competition begins at Air Force on Dec. 28th. There are a lot of reasons to like the Aggies this year, but something about that late scoring drought in crunch time tonight looms large. We’ll see how USU rights the ship at home Saturday against the New Orleans Privateers.




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