Wolf Pack devours Aggie basketball
By Wade Denniston
On paper, the Utah State men's basketball team was supposed to dominate the University of Nevada's team.
The Aggies had won 18 out of 24 against the Wolf Pack, including five of the last seven and seven of the last ten games. USU's Head Basketball Coach Stew Morrill was 7-6 against Nevada with a 5-5 mark at Montana and a 2-1 mark at Colorado State.
Before an announced crowd of 6,011 at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev., the Wolf Pack showed the Aggies why games aren't played on paper, defeating USU 79-70.
Utah State (11-10 overall, 4-6 Big West), came into Saturday night's game needing a victory to even its conference record at .500 and keep a leg up on the suddenly hot Wolf Pack (7-13 overall, 3-7 Big West), who had won two conference games in a row.
Freshman guard Tony Brown got the Aggies off to a hot start by drilling his first three-pointer of the night, which was his sixth straight on the road trip.
The 6-foot-3 Brown finished the night with a game-high 16 points, on 3-of-6 shooting from the field, including 2-of-5 from behind the arc, and 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
It wasn't enough, though.
The Aggies saw its last lead of the game at 15-14, when Nevada's John Burrell hit three free throws in a row to put the Wolf Pack up for good, 17-14.
Burrell, the 6-foot-3 junior guard, scored all of his 11 points in the first half, while helping Nevada take a 36-29 halftime lead.
The Wolf Pack continued to roll in the second half, thanks in part to hot shooting from the free throw line.
During one stretch in the half, Nevada's 6-foot-7 senior forward Andre McLeod, went to the line five straight times, connecting on 9-of-10, increasing the Wolf Pack lead to 13, with seven minutes 49 seconds to play in the game.
McLeod, a 39 percent shooter from the stripe entering the game, finished with a game-high 19 points, hitting on 13-of-14 free throws.
On the game, Nevada hit 32-of-37 from the stripe, a far cry from USU's 19-of-26. Ironically, Nevada came into the game hitting only 58.2 percent of its freebies.
Nevada kept pouring it on, eventually increasing its lead to 20 at 72-52 on Derrick Anderson's steal and dunk with four minutes 26 seconds to play.
Anderson, the 6-foot-5 junior guard, netted 12 points for the Wolf Pack, who saw four players score in double figures.
Even with the loss, Utah State did have its share of moments.
Tyrone Allick, the 6-foot-1 senior guard tied his career-high of 10 points with 4-of-9 shooting from the field, 2-of-3 from the free throw line.
Brandon Fries recorded a new career-high eight points. The 6-foot-1 junior guard shot 100 percent from the field, knocking down his only three-point attempt, and 5-of-6 from the line.
The loss to Nevada drops the Aggies to 2-7 on Saturday games and 2-7 overall on the road. More importantly, the Wolf Pack moved to within one game of fourth-place USU with six games remaining for each team.
Utah State returns home for its next four games beginning Thursday night against UC Irvine. The game, which begins at 10:05 p.m., will be nationally televised by ESPN.