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Feb 5, 2024 2:49 am

No. 17 Utah State looks to bounce back, hosts Nevada

Great Osobor

Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle didn’t take long to disclose the reason for his team’s 81-67 loss Saturday at San Diego State.

“I didn’t think we played as physical as we needed to,” Sprinkle said. “We had some careless fouls.”

The 17th-ranked Aggies will try to correct that Tuesday night when they attempt to stay in first in the Mountain West as they host Nevada in Logan, Utah.

Utah State (19-3, 7-2 MW) is tied with Boise State atop the league but owns the tiebreaker after an overtime win over the Broncos last month in Boise. The Aggies are a game ahead of No. 19 New Mexico and San Diego State, which played for the national title last April.

A look at the box score reveals just how important home-court advantage is in the Mountain West. The Aggies are normally one of the nation’s most efficient units on offense but the Aztecs harried them into 41 percent field-goal shooting, including 6 of 23 from 3-point range.

For the season, Utah State is shooting 49.9 from the floor, a primary reason it averages nearly 82 points per game. But on a day when it met a foe that was coming off a mid-week loss at Colorado State, it couldn’t get its offense going.

“It comes down to focus,” Sprinkle said. “We didn’t play as clean as we needed to play.”

Great Osobor, who was 8 of 14 and scored 17 points Saturday, leads the Aggies with 19 ppg on 59.3 percent shooting and also grabs a team-high 9.5 rebounds. Ian Martinez is averaging 13.7 ppg, while Mason Falslev is scoring 11.3 points and Darius Brown II is chipping in 11.2. Martinez and Brown were a combined 5 of 21 at San Diego State.

If Utah State needs an example of how to bounce back from a big conference loss on the road, it can look at its opponent. The Wolf Pack (17-5, 4-4) shrugged off an 89-55 loss on Jan. 28 at New Mexico by completely dominating San Jose State on Friday night in a 90-60 blowout win in Reno.

“We weren’t the team that we are at New Mexico,” forward Nick Davidson said. “We came back, refocused, reset and said, ‘Hey, February and the rest of the season should be ours.’ I like that we played like that tonight.”

Nevada did everything it wanted to do on offense, hitting 48.3 percent from the field, canning 11 3-pointers in 23 attempts and also earning a 33-9 advantage in free-throw attempts. Five players scored in double figures, led by Davidson with 22 points and Jarod Lucas with 20.

“We did a really good job in a lot of areas but the starters did what they needed to do,” Wolf Pack coach Steve Alford said. “We had a good start to the game and a really good start to the second half, and that’s the job of the starters.”

Lucas leads the team in scoring at 17.3 ppg. Kenan Blackshear is second on the team at 15.5 and Davidson is third at 11 points per game.

–Field Level Media

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